17161 Design for All Standard

The Product and Services team at the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) at the National Disability Authority (NDA), in collaboration with the National Standards Authority Ireland (NSAI), has been working with organisations on implementation of I.S. EN 17161.

Organisations starting to implement this standard in their work are using some of the reference documents recommended in the standard, such as the Customer Communications Toolkit, ISO/IEC Guide 71:2014 (CEN-CENELEC Guide 6) and EN 301 549, the European standard for digital accessibility.

ALONE and Dolmen Design & Innovation were recognised as early adopters of I.S. EN 17161 in a webinar hosted by Design Skillnet in collaboration with the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI) and the CEUD at the NDA. This webinar also highlighted user involvement activities, as recommended in the standard, involving the use of generative co-design tools and methods.

Design for All - Accessibility following a Design for All approach in products, goods and services - Extending the range of users’ is a European process standard about using a Universal Design approach at all levels in organisations to continuously improve and manage the accessibility and usability of the products and services they provide.

This standard is relevant to organisations that design, manufacture and/or provide products and services and who want to increase their market share. It can be used in procurement for award criteria, as part of complying with accessibility legislation and to help advance corporate social responsibility. Organisations can really benefit from extending their range of users by providing mainstream products and services that can be easily accessed, understood and used.

The standard specifies requirements and recommendations that enables an organisation to extend their range of users by: 

  • identifying diverse user needs, characteristics, capabilities, and preferences
  • directly or indirectly involving users
  • using knowledge about accessibility in its procedures and processes.

This standard recognises that Universal Design as used in Ireland has a similar meaning to other terms such as; “Design for All”, “accessible design”, “barrier-free design”, “inclusive design” and “transgenerational design”.

For more on the Universal Design approach, check out the family of personas called the “Normals” that are on the front cover of the I.S. EN 17161 standard.

Access the “Meet the Normals” animation on YouTube.

The standard is available for purchase from the NSAI page on I.S. EN 17161.

View the NSAI press release for I.S. EN 17161 ‘Design for All - Accessibility following a Design for All approach in products, goods and services - Extending the range of users’.