Touchscreen kiosk solutions for blind and partially sighted

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If you’ve travelled by plane or train, visited a fast food outlet or looked for stock items in a retailer recently, chances are you’ve used a touchscreen to complete the task.

Touchscreen kiosks are increasingly commonplace in restaurants, transportation and retail environments for customer self-service. However, self-service mobile applications, touchscreen tablets and screens, rely exclusively on visual displays and usually do not provide any form of audio output or tactile input, rendering these kiosks entirely inaccessible to blind customers.

Blind and partially sighted customers are being excluded from the service benefits promised by these kiosks and must seek assistance to use them.

Legislation and guidelines are just now starting to address the imbalance. Toward the end of 2016 new ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) US Department of Transport regulations came into effect. The new regulations state that a touchscreen user interface is no longer acceptable as blind and partially sighted people aren’t able to use these types of kiosks.

Similar legislation is currently being reviewed for Europe and is due to come into effect later this year.  The new legislation aims to ensure increased accessibility and inclusivity. In America, non-compliances are breaches of an individual’s civil rights and penalties have been issued by the courts.

Kiosk owners now need to consider how to ensure that touchscreen terminals and tablets are accessible to all users. Existing terminals may need to be modified to meet legislative requirements, while new terminals should incorporate assistance technology.

The technology to provide the audible and tactile assistance required by disabled users, whether partially sighted, blind or with impaired motor skills, to use self-service points already exists, is readily available and can be easily included at existing kiosks.

The Storm Audio-Nav

An excellent solution that we’ve seen, and which is currently in use in America, is the “Storm Audio-Nav”; an assistive device offering menu navigation by means of audio direction. The Audio-Nav helps users with impaired vision, reading difficulties or impaired fine motor skills navigate through menus or directories that are presented on a visual display or touchscreen. The device has an illuminated, tactile surface with positive touch dynamic keys and can be fitted to existing terminals, or incorporated into newly built designs.

The device has had excellent feedback in user trials and is currently addressing problems experienced by disabled users interacting with technology at kiosks in the US. This technology already exists, is readily available and can be easily included at self-service points, providing the audible and tactile assistance required for partially sighted, blind and those with impaired motor skills need to use.

We’re expecting to see a lot more Audio-Navs as the inclusivity, accessibility message catches on!

You can take a look here:

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