Universal Design for ICT

As a design process universal design does not suggest producing a one size-fits all product or service. Rather it seeks to encourage the development of ICTS that are usable and accessible to the widest range of people.

The interfaces to ICTS, in particular application software and websites, have the potential to offer high levels of flexibility of use to the user than can be easily achieved within building or product design. The following examples show the flexibility that ICT interfaces have to meet a person’s specific requirements.

  • A universally designed website can enable users to change the onscreen text size and colour. this can be achieved through changing the settings in the browser, although increasingly websites now enable users to change the text size and colour within the webpage itself. a website with a flexible and fluid design will work on different platforms including mobile phones, portable devices with smaller screens or devices such as assistive technologies used by people with disabilities.
  • The information contained on the embedded chip of a gym user's membership smart card may contain information about their stated preference to be spoken to in a slow, clear voice as their first language is not English.
  • An Information Point kiosk is a public space, such as a shopping centre, may enable users to adjust the height of the screen, thus making the screen more easily visible for people of a range of sizes, in a range of seating positions and in a range of locations with differing ambient lighting levels.

Universal design is about good design and is most achievable through integrating closely with tried and trusted development methodologies. In common with the design of buildings or consumer goods, a universal design approach requires the use of a few key techniques. To create a universally design ICT product or service within time and resource budgets, developers need to follow an effective and efficient development process.

In general a user-centred design approach is required to prioritise the requirements of the end user. Moving towards a universal design process will be different in each corporate environment and will be influence by corporate culture and development budget and timelines.

The following sections contain UDRS on products and services under the headings:

CEUD ICT Guidelines

The CEUD ICT guidelines cover a wide range of technology areas. They provide a precise definition of requirements for services delivered through various IT channels. Functional and technical requirements in each of the technology areas to enable designers to specify systems requirements at the beginning and during the development process. Each set of guidelines also contain sets of checkpoints which are most useful during testing but which can be used during any stage of development to help specify a particular requirement.

ICT Guidelines and Resources

Universal Design Process for ICT

Accessible design and testing in the application development process: considerations for an integrated approach proposes a 4-step methodology for the development of software application development that is closely aligned with best practices of software engineering:

  1. Using user case and personas to capture accessibility requirements and make them real and comprehendible
  2. Making user requirements real concrete through the use of scenarios and guidelines
  3. Using manual and automated testing techniques based on test cases and checkpoints
  4. User testing and expert review.

Zimmermann, H., Vanderheiden, G. (2008)

Universal Access in the Information Society 7:117—128

Accessible design and testing in the application development process: considerations for an integrated approach is available to borrow from the NDA library.

W3C’s WAI Guidelines and Checklists from the Web Accessibility Initiative at the W3C

IBM Product Guidelines on the accessibility of software, web, hardware, hardware self contained, documentation and more from the IBM human ability and accessibility centre.


ISO DTS 16071: Guidance on Accessibility for Human-Computer Interfaces (2000)

This draft technical specification (derived from ANSI HFS 200) [19] provides guidelines and recommendations for the design of systems and software that will enable users with disabilities greater accessibility to computer systems (with or without assistive technology). It includes low vision users, hearing impaired users, deaf users, users with physical and cognitive impairments, and the elderly. It is not yet a full standard.

ISO 13407 (1999) Human-Centred Design Processes for Interactive Systems

This standard provides guidance on human-centred design activities throughout the life cycle of interactive computer-based systems. It is a tool for those managing design processes and provides guidance on sources of information and standards relevant to the human-centred approach. It describes human-centred design as a multidisciplinary activity, which incorporates human factors and ergonomics knowledge and techniques with the objective of enhancing effectiveness and efficiency, improving human working conditions, and counteracting possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance.

ISO/TR 18529 (2000) Ergonomics - Ergonomics of Human-System Interaction - Human-Centred Lifecycle Process Description.

This technical report contains a structured and formalised list of human-centred processes:

  • HCD.1 ensure HCD content in system strategy
  • HCD.2 plan and manage the HCD process
  • HCD.3 specify the user and organisational requirements
  • HCD.4 understand and specify the context of use
  • HCD.5 produce design solutions
  • HCD.6 evaluate designs against requirements
  • HCD.7 introduce and operate the system

The Usability Maturity Model in ISE TR 18529 contains a structured set of processes derived from ISO 13407 and a survey of good practice. It can be used to assess the extent to which an organisation is capable of carrying out user-centred design.

EG 202 116 (2002) human factors (HF); Guidelines for ICT Products and Services: Design for all

This gives guidance to ICT product and service designers on human factors issues, good human factors design practice, and relevant international and national standards. In particular, it aims to help designers to maximize the level of usability of products and services by providing a comprehensive set of human factors design guidelines.

Standards Bodies Referenced Above



The national standards authority of Ireland is Ireland’s official standards body. NSAI facilitates the development of voluntary standard documents. The NSAI aims to inspire consumer confidence and protect industry interests through setting standards and issuing certification in the quality and safety of goods and services.