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William J. Lawson, Ph.D.

Advisory Board Member, ICDRI

Chair, INCITS/V2.1 Subcommittee


February 19, 2003


This presentation is part of a continuing series known as “Capital Calling”, that was presented to members of the International Biometric Industry Association (www.IBIA.org). 

Hello everyone and thank you for attending this presentation,

     The INCITS/V2.1 subcommittee was established December 5, 2002 and has been charged with the mission of developing standards for access to information technology by people of variable abilities.  However, it is important to note that when crafting an interface standard that the standard is required to embody the elements of security, accessibility, and privacy (SAP).  For if the standard does not embody all three elements to an acceptable degree, then the standard will most likely not be ratified.

     Given the mission of INCITS/V2.1 and premise of the standards requirements, I was forced asked myself what universal standard(s) can be crafted that will allow electronic devices and technology to be both secure and accessible to people of all ability levels?  With the support of International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI) and via the aegis of INCITS/V2, I determined that the only way to craft such a standard would be to explore the possibility of adding what I came to refer to as an Accessibility Level Field (ALF) to the Common Biometric Exchange File Format (CBEFF).

     The theory behind my reasoning is that I fully expect that such a modification to the CBEFF would allow manufactures and vendors to promote interface interoperability between biometrics technologies and assistive technology.  To accomplish this the V2.1 has convinced Dr. Fernando Podio, the Co-Chairman of the Biometric Consortium to provide the V2.1 with twelve hexadecimal digits from the Payload Field and two hexadecimal digits from the Challenge-Response Field of the CBEFF.  Both the Payload and the Challenge-Response Fields fall under the Standard Biometric Header (SBH) Element of the CBEFF as optional fields (see figures below).  However, once the ALF standard has been ratified this will no longer be the case.

Common Biometric Exchange File Format (CBEFF) illustrating Standard Biomtric Header, Biometric Data Block, and Signature Block


Standard Biometric Header

 Signature Block

Biometric Data Block


Table 1 – Standard Biometric Header Followed by the BDB and the SB.

Field Name

Required or Optional


SBH Security Options


‘00’ = plain Biometric

‘10’ = with Privacy (Encryption)

‘20’ = with Integrity (Signed or MACed)

‘30’ = with Privacy and Integrity

Integrity Options


‘01’ = MACed

‘02’ = Signed

This field only exists if Integrity is used (i.e. SBH Options=’20’ or ‘30’).

CBEFF Header Version


Version of the CBEFF header. Currently set to: Major: ‘01’, Minor: ‘00’

Patron Header Version


Version of header (of a patron format specification or standard)

Biometric Type


Indication of biometric type

Biometric Feature


Indicate a choice within a biometric type

Record Data Type


Indication of record data type. Currently set to ‘02’ (Processed, the default).

This field doesn’t exist if the default is used.

Record Purpose


Intended use of the data. Currently set to ‘04’ (Enroll for Verification Only, the default). This field doesn’t exist if the default is used.

Record Data Quality


Indication of the quality of the biometric data

Creation Date


Creation date and time of the biometric data



Valid From and until Dates

Creator (PID)


Unique identifier of the entity that created the biometric data (also known as a Product Identifier – PID).



Unique identifier for the biometric reference (enrollment) data



Information used to present a challenge to a user of system.



Reference data captured during enrollment and used in conjunction with the biometric data.

Subheader/Basic Structure Count


Number of CBEFF Structures that follow this header. Used to help process nested structures.

BDB Format Owner


ID of the Group or Vendor which defined the BDB

BDB Format Type


Type as specified by the Format Owner

Biometric Data Block (BDB)


Defined by the Format Owner



Signature or MAC. Only present if the SBH value is ‘20’ or ‘30’

     Please keep in mind that this is work in progress and that the standard is not expected to be finalized, until the end of December 2003.  However, the assumption is that only four of the available twelve hexadecimal digits of the Payload Field would be used to identify an individual’s ability limitations and/or access requirements.  The two-digits of the Challenge-Response Field would be used to determine which biometric out of the biometrics available to the individual has priority.  What's more, given that the ALF will be incorporated into the CBEFF and will therefore be part of the biometric template we had to ask the question.  What biometric template storage platforms are available to the ALF and which one of the available platforms primarily embodies the elements of security, accessibility, and privacy?  While it is true that the ALF can be deployed on all storage platforms, I believe that the fusion of a contactless smart card with a contactless biometric would be the best platform choice.

     Additionally, I have recommended that a two-stage interface process be adopted.  What is meant by a two-stage interface process? Stage one is that the individual’s access requirements are established by the electronic device or technology that person is attempting access.  Stage two is that the proper biometric authentication challenge or response is presented to the person requesting access.

     For example, if a vision impaired individual were attempting to gain access to a public facility.  He or she would approach the entrance of the facility where a series of strategically placed proximity sensor would acquire the Accessibility Level Field (ALF).  If at this point authentication was not required then the doors would automatically open and the individual could be presented with an audible greeting (i.e. Welcome to the public court house).  This would be the completion of stage one.  To continue with the scenario, as the individual transverses through the facility he or she may come upon an entry point where authentication of a persons identity is required. At this point stage-one will be repeated whereas the Accessibility Level Field (ALF) would be acquired.  In stage-two the Challenge-Response Field will trigger the appropriate biometric application.  For this scenario a vision impaired individual could be issued an audible challenge and the user could then reply in the same fashion (voice verification biometric). There are many more scenarios and a multitude of other biometric applications.

     In closing to further demonstrate the need for a universal standard, let's say that a government issued universal biometric identification (UBID) contactless smart card is issued to the public.  The UBID would ultimately become the standard means of proving your identity, when using an ATM, purchasing goods, buying services, and gaining access to facilities.  Furthermore, the CBEFF would comply with legal statues/laws throughout the international communities (i.e. sections 504 & 508 of the ADA). 


Biocentric Solutions Inc. (n.d.). White paper: Why use a biometric and a card in the same device? Retrieved Jul 3, 2002 from http://www.biocentricsolutions.com /media/whitepaper.pdf

Gill, J. (2002). Design of smart card systems to meet the needs of disabled and elderly persons. Retrieved Jan 3, 2003 from Royal National Institute for the Blind. http://www.tiresias.org/reports/ecart.htm

Gill, J. (1994) (Ed.). Proceedings of the COST 219 seminar on smart cards and disabilities. Retrieved Jan 3, 2003 from Royal National Institute for the Blind. http://www.stakes.fi/ cost219/smartc94.doc

Gill, J. (2002). Smart cards: Interfaces for people with disabilities. Retrieved Jan 3, 2003 from Royal National Institute for the Blind. http://www.tiresias.org/ reports/urcai.htm

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INCLUsion of Disabled and Elderly people in telematics (INCLUDE). SATURN Case Study. Retrieved Jan 3, 2003 from http://www.stakes.fi/include/cases.html

National Institute of Standards and Technology. (n.d.). Common Biometric Exchange File Format (CBEFF) Website. Retrieved July 23, 2002 from http://www.itl.nist.gov/ div895/isis/bc/cbeff

The Biometric Foundation. (n.d.). Why Biometrics? Retrieved Jan 10, 2003 from http://www.biometricfoundation.org/whybiometrics.htm

Thieme, M. (n.d.). Biometric usage on a privacy continuum. International Biometric Group LLC. Retrieved Jan 10, 2003 from http://www.bioprivacy.org/ continuum.htm

Thieme, M. (n.d.). Privacy concerns and biometric technologies. International Biometric Group LLC. Retrieved Jan 10, 2003 from http://www.bioprivacy.org/ privacy_fears.htm 

Westin, A. (2002). Public attitudes toward the uses of biometric identification technologies by government and the private sector: Summary of survey findings. Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) International. Retrieved Jan 9, 2003 from  http://www.search.org/ policy/bio_conf/Biometricsurveyfindings.pdf  



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