Updated, improved ISO/IEC standard redefines the state-of-the-art for IT keyboards

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Keyboards will now be able to better meet the requirements of today’s digital era with the full technical revision of the ISO/IEC standard for keyboard layouts, ISO/IEC 9995, Information technology – Keyboard layouts for text and office systems.

The new edition takes into account the various existing and upcoming applications which use keyboards, such as personal computers, workstations, computer terminals, telephones and mobile phones, calculators, electronic typewriters, personal digital assistants, touch screens, multimedia devices with foldable keyboards, automated teller machines (ATMs), and many others.

It divides keyboards into clearly recognizable sections, and allocates functions to the keys. It specifies principles for the shape and sections of keyboards, key placements and markings, spacing, physical characteristics and more.

“Thanks to the symbols provided in ISO/IEC 9995-7, users can, regardless of country or language, recognize function keys like for example, ‘Return’, ‘Escape’ or ‘Insert’ and generally operate keyboards in a myriad of applications” says Mr. Alain LaBonté, Convenor of the working group that developed the standard (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 35/WG 1).

“The latest version better accommodates the larger set of characters required by today’s applications, while making sure that keyboards keep a unified, predictable and user-friendly machine interface,” he concludes.

The main revisions comprise:  

  • Merged “editing” and “functioning” keyboard sections
  • Reduced number of keyboard “zones”
  • More flexible placement of symbols on keys (in specific situations)
  • Added support for extra Latin characters, and multiple diacritics (accents) entry support for one character.

The ISO/IEC 9995 parts revised and published in 2009 include:

  • Part 1 : General principles governing keyboard layouts
  • Part 2: Alphanumeric section
  • Part 4: Numeric section
  • Part 5: Editing and function section
  • Part 7: Symbols used to represent functions
  • Part 8: Allocation of letters to the keys of a numeric keypad.

Part 3, Complementary layouts of the alphanumeric zone of the alphanumeric section, is currently under revision.

Furthermore a new Part 9, Multilingual-usage, multiscript keyboard group layouts, is being developed to accomodate characters from all the writing systems of the world.

ISO/IEC 9995 was developed by the joint ISO [International Organization for Standardization] and IEC [International Electrotechnical Commission] technical committee ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, within subcommittee SC 35, User interfaces.

Dr. Yves Neuville, Chair of the subcommittee, notes that “at least 95 % of the keyboards in use today conform to this International Standard. This is an excellent example of SC 35’s priority to address cultural and linguistic adaptability in information technology as highlighted in its newly revised scope.

“Our vision is for users around the world to be able to type in their own language on any keyboard. ISO/IEC 9995 constitutes an important step in this goal,” he says.

The standard is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department (see right-hand column) at the following prices:  

Maria Lazarte
Maria Lazarte

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