Making Smart Card Services Accessible

Perhaps it goes without saying that services accessed using a smart card should be as easy to use as possible for all groups of users, but it is important that every effort is made to achieve this goal. When designing for accessible smart card based services, it is useful to consider how a user interacts with all card services to ensure that all aspects have been considered. The NDA provides a description of an inclusive design processand a toolkit for IT procurement. User interaction covers the service's life cycle, from applying for and activating a card, using the card in normal operation and understanding what to do if problems occur, to closing an account or ending any interaction with the service.

When a user interacts with a service, the following are typical events and functions that are performed:

  • Card application - A user's first interaction with a card service is the process to receive a card. This is called card issuance and covers activities such as how a user applies to access the service, how a suitable card is distributed and how it is activated for use. Naturally, a central consideration for a smart card service is the card itself (or smart media device). It is important, therefore, that the physical characteristics and design of available card types cater for the whole user population;
  • Locating and accessing terminals - A smart card is used in or at a terminal. Before a user can use a card, the terminals in which the card can be used must be located and be physically accessible;
  • External features, labels and instructions - After finding access points and terminals, it must be clear what to do next. Simple external features can significantly change the accessibility of services;
  • Card use - The next step is to use the card. The normal day-to-day services must be easy to use, as it is not always obvious how card services may be operated;
  • Cardholder authentication methods - Some services will require user authentication. Authentication is the process to verify that the user of the card is the card owner. Authentication methods have life cycles of their own that are linked but can be separate to the card itself. Typical authentication methods include: signature, PIN and biometrics;
  • Interacting with terminals - Self-service terminals invariably use display screens for interaction with the user. The goal of a good terminal design is to enable all users to be able to use the screens and controls provided;
  • Retrieving output - Self-service terminals often provide tickets, receipts and other material. As well as being clear where and when any physical output from terminals is provided, allowance should be of made for the ability of all users to retrieve it;
  • Typefaces and legibility - Significant work has been undertaken over many years to provide legible typefaces. Service providers should take advantage of this;
  • Lost and stolen cards - Dealing with lost and stolen cards is troublesome for all users and particularly so for users relying on services related to the card. These users can often be the most disadvantaged and careful consideration of the processes and subsequent replacement and re-issue of cards is required;
  • Alternative service - If a card service or a part of it is unavailable for whatever reason, it may be the most important aspect to a particular user group. Users need to be aware of what alternative arrangements are available.

Refer to the guidelines for more detailed information about these topics