The UK Code of Practice can be regarded as the domain of ISO TICS MMI standards in miniature, and enables an answer to be given to the two questions posed at the start of the review: Can standards be developed? Should standards be developed? First, it is not possible to provide concrete product or performance standards that will guarantee safe systems are developed. However, it is possible to produce standards that incorporate best practice and state-of-the-art knowledge, which can lead to improved design and identify clearly unsafe systems.
It is a mistake to hope to place standards at the same position on some scale of verisimilitude as natural laws of physics. Standards can be useful tools, even if they simply represent an informed consensus view. In many cases, standards are designed not to tell designers what to do, but how to do it. They should be presented in terms of the best possible advice that can be given at that point in time, and formulated to stimulate technological development rather than impede it. As such, the distinction between guidelines and traditional notions of standards is blurred, and will probably continue to be blurred in the domain of much of human factors and ergonomics. If a hard view of requiements for standards is taken, in which all methods, tools, and metrics could be demonstrated to have stood the test of time and meet all the criteria of scientific validity, then, in practice, little progress can be made.
TICS MMI is a rapidly moving, highly pragmatic domain. It has the added characteristic of involving humans in complex and potentially hazardous environments, and a history of poor designs emerging into the public arena. Because the consequences of poor design are potentially serious and, for the individual even catastrophic, there is an important role for standardization to encourage good design.
The author is grateful to Tom Dingus, Iowa University; Tsuneomi Yano, Zexel; and Peter Hancock, Minnesota University, for their contributions to the panel discussion that served as the stimulus for this chapter. Special acknowledgment is due to Anders Hallén of Volvo Car Corporation for his presentation and written material that has been drawn on in this review, and to Francois Hartemann of Renault and Gene Farber of Ford US who convene ISO TC22 SC13 WG8 and ISO TC204 WG13, respectively, and who are the driving forces behind the achievements of these groups.
Commission of European Communities (CEC). ( 1990). "Council directive of 29 May 1990 on the minimum safety and health requirements for work with display screen equipment" (Fifth individual directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 87/391/EEC).