Use of EN 17161 by ALONE

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD) shared their expertise on the Universal Design approach and collaborated with ALONE on implementing EN 17161 during the development of their Sláintecare project in order to ensure that the technology and services that would be provided to the users would be suited to their accessibility and usability needs.

A Universal Design approach is an approach to the design, development and provision of products and services that accounts for human diversity. It focuses on accessibility and usability from the earliest possible time and throughout all stages in the life of products and services including interoperability across the end-to-end chain of use. Applying this approach results in products and services that are more accessible, and an increase in the proportion of people able to participate fully and independently in society.

During the ALONE Sláintecare project, Universal Design experts from the CEUD, at the National Disability Authority (NDA), facilitated a workshop for ALONE that promoted the implementation of EN 17161 by ALONE. The workshop covered the relevant resources: EN 17161, ISO/IEC Guide 71 / CEN Guide 6, EN 301 549 and the Customer Communications Toolkit.

Key for this type of project was Annex C from EN 17161, which “provides a framework for activities in design and development projects to achieve design solutions that can be used by the widest range of users, including users with disabilities” Annex C complements Clause 8 in the standard, which contains requirements on:

  • Establishing relevant process criteria
  • Implementing appropriate process control
  • Planning to extend the range of users
  • Identifying the intended users and their diverse needs, characteristics, capabilities and preferences
  • Identifying contexts of use
  • Determining the resulting design specifications

Along with engaging experts on accessibility, EN 17161 also recommends use of relevant resources such as ISO/IEC Guide 71 / CEN-CENELEC Guide 6 to help with identifying and documenting a product / service user’s characteristics and abilities. The Guide also helped to identify corresponding barriers experienced by persons with particular characteristics and abilities. These barriers were then used to identify the relevant ‘Functional Performance Statements’ found listed in the European standard EN 301 549 ‘Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services’, which are the features a technology product must have for use when a physical, cognitive or sensory capability is not available or cannot be used by a person.

These Functional Performance Statements from EN 301 549 could then be used to inform the procurement of technology that would be suitable for the individual user. Further information on using EN 301 549 in procurement is provided in an output of this project, in the document ‘Guidance on Procurement of Technology through Application of EN 301 549’.

Another resource used in the project is a Customer Communications Toolkit that has design guidance to help inform the Universal Design of written, spoken and signed and digital communications.