Human Factors and accessibility

Human Factors is the scientific application of knowledge about the capacities and limitations of users with the aim of making products, systems, services and environments safe, efficient and easy to use.

The growing complexity of telecommunications services and equipment makes the human element more and more important. Human Factors is a key factor for the commercial success of any telecommunications product or service. However, currently a large portion of the population does not benefit from all information society’s opportunities. It follows that technology barriers need to be removed to ensure the access to products and services for the largest possible population.

ETSI is helping to achieve this objective in technical committee Human Factors (HF) by producing ETSI Standards and Guides and recommendations to promote e-accessibility.

Accessibility can be promoted:

  • Design for All approach where products are designed to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for specialized adaptation;
  • Security and personalising the way users connect with products, for example, are critical in achieving eInclusion and eAccessibility. The goal is to enter a new era of ICT where services and devices can be personalised to meet the needs of every user, and not only those of the majority. 

Our Technical Committee Human Factors (TC HF) champions the importance of ensuring that developments in technology are usable and accessible to all people in society, including the elderly, the young and those with disabilities. Adopting a ‘Design for All’ approach in product and standards development helps ensure that everyone has effective access to devices, systems and services. By widening access, it also enables companies to meet the needs of many more users, thus improving their competitive position in global markets.

As part of our work to promote e-Accessibility, we focus on support for the use of services and devices by people with cognitive impairments. Cognitive impairments are often related to old age, so those who are currently active and taking full advantage of ICT may experience major usability problems and digital exclusion when they are older, unless action is taken now. To this aim we develop guidelines on user interfaces and functionality to enable the effective use of tablets, smartphones etc. by users with a range of cognitive impairments, either on their own or with remote assistance.

A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ETSI standards search. Via this interface you can also subscribe for alerts on updates of ETSI standards.