NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) has developed the world’s first standard to enable energy products and services to be accessible and usable to more customers who span the full range of size, age, physical, mental and sensory abilities. SWIFT 9 (Universal Design for Energy Suppliers) was developed in conjunction with the NDA’s (National Disability Authority) Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (CEUD), CER (Commission for Energy Regulation), representative end users and key energy suppliers.
SWIFT 9 covers written, verbal and electronic based communication including websites and services to customers, embracing the use of Plain English as the benchmark for communications. Universal Design is the degree to which a product or service is usable by as many people as possible.
“SWIFT 9 is the first standard to be developed internationally that embraces good design, guidance and functionality by our energy suppliers, focusing on all end users, ensuring access to information and services,” says Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, who launched the new standard. “It recognises the customer’s right to be at the centre of services and in time the adoption of Universal Design will lead to a more inclusive and understanding Irish society. Energy suppliers such as Airtricity, Bord Gais Energy, Electric Ireland, Energia and Flogas are at the forefront of customer service design and provide the foundations on which other customer focused businesses can build.”
Maurice Buckley, chief executive of NSAI, comments: “Standards play a vital role in making the world accessible and usable, from technologies that are user-friendly for the hearing and visually impaired, to products that can be easily used by older persons or those with disabilities. By putting in place the guidelines set out in SWIFT 9, energy suppliers in Ireland have put the needs of customers with a different range of age, size disabilities and abilities first and foremost when developing their products, services and communications. Industry, policy makers, designers and manufacturers need to think universal design and access from the onset of a project, product or service.”
Pictured at the launch of SWIFT 9-Universal Design for Energy Suppliers, are: Maurice Buckley, chief executive of NSAI; Fergus O’Dowd TD, Minister of State at the Department of the Communications, Energy & Natural Resources; and Niall O’Hanlon, ESB Access Officer.