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Making Touchscreen Kiosks Accessible

Touchscreen kiosk at McDonald's

A few months ago, I went to a Texas convenience store: the convenience store to end all convenience stores. There was amazing food all over and I, as a blind person, could order exactly nothing.

The reason? To place an order, you must use an inaccessible touchscreen kiosk. To cut costs, there is no staff to help, so if you have a disability, you are completely out of luck.

Touchscreen kiosks are becoming more and more common in public places, but their accessibility is still lackluster. And as the mobile phone market has demonstrated, touchscreens can be made accessible with the implementation of proper assistive technologies.

Making touchscreen kiosks accessible is not always easy. For example, they may require significant hardware upgrades if the default hardware does not allow for headphones to be plugged in. Often times, it may be cheaper to have a staff member near the touchscreens to assist people with disabilities.

Here are some tips from our team of experts at Accessible360 for making kiosks more accessible:

  • Make sure wheelchair users have easy access to kiosks by clearing at least 30 by 48 inches of floor space in front of kiosks and placing the controls between 15 and 48 inches from the ground.
  • Kiosks should have screen reading software available, and there should be clear, obvious Braille instructions for starting speech mode.
  • Interactive elements, including on-screen keyboard keys, should have good contrast with their backgrounds.

Because none of these aids were in place for this convenience store’s kiosk, and the people behind the counter did not take food orders, there was no possible way for me to order food. I went hungry that day because that was the only eating establishment for miles!

Inaccessible public accommodations, including touchscreen kiosks, are a barrier to social and physical inclusion for people with disabilities. Everyone, including people with disabilities, is guaranteed equal access under the ADA. Contact us to find out how to make your kiosk accessible.

Harrison Tu in boat on water

Harrison Tu is totally blind and a tech fanatic. In addition to exploring new technology, he loves learning new languages (spoken and computer), and all things Harry Potter.

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