Accessibility of Products and Services Following a Design for All Approach in Standards

  • Elizabeth O’Ferrall
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 824)


All individual users have their own profile of needs, characteristics, capabilities, and preferences, and this fact needs to be recognized when developing mainstream products, goods and services. For most people the profile of abilities changes substantially throughout the course of their life, as they advance from childhood to adulthood and then into old age. In addition, changing circumstances, accidents, disease and other events frequently have a significant impact on needs, characteristics, capabilities, and preferences. Furthermore, the context of use of products and services can influence users’ needs, characteristics, capabilities, and preferences.

A Design for All approach takes account of human diversity to extend the range of users in the developing of mainstream products and services which includes, older persons and persons with disabilities.

Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [UNCRPD] (see footnote 1) refers to equal rights of persons with disabilities in the context of “accessibility” and “to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life” [Art 9(1)].

M/473 (M/473 EN, Standardization Mandate to CEN, CENELEC, and ETSI to include “Design for All” in relevant standardization initiatives [Ref. Ares (2010)578264 – 10/09/2010], a Standardization mandate issued by the European Commission in 2013 to CEN, CENELEC and ETSI with a request to include accessibility following a “Design for All” approach in mainstream standards. The intent was not to develop specific accessibility standards but to incorporate accessibility in mainstream standards and from an early stage. Early research in this M/473 project informed the work of M/473, that the best approach was to develop a standard which would enable organizations to extend the range of users by identifying diverse needs, characteristics, capabilities, and preferences, by directly or indirectly involving users, and by using knowledge about accessibility in its procedures and processes.

The European standard [FprEN17161] is unique in the standardization arena as it sets out requirements that enable an organization to design, develop and provide products or services so that they can be accessed, understood and used by the widest range of users including persons with disabilities. An environment where products and services are more accessible allows for more inclusion and participation of citizens in society.

Extending the range of users that can access, understand and use a product or service has the potential to benefit a wider range of users in the population including persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the standard supports the proposed “European Directive on Accessibility” (Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States as regards the accessibility requirements for products and services [2015/0278 (COD)].).


Accessibility Standard Human rights 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth O’Ferrall
    • 1
  1. 1.DublinIreland

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