You might pick up the new camera you ordered at a buy-online-pick-up-in-store kiosk locker. Or use a self-service kiosk to order a Reuben at the sandwich place near work. Or check into your eye appointment with a healthcare check-in kiosk.
Kiosks allow people to complete everyday tasks independently, and that’s why self-service kiosks need to be accessible for people with disabilities.
What Makes a Kiosk Accessible?
Kiosks are made accessible with a mix of hardware and software. For hardware, they typically have a tactile input device such as a Storm Audio-Nav Keypad. These aren’t keypads with numbers like at an ATM but are diamond-shaped keypads with up, down, left, and right buttons, a center button for entering and activating, and a headphone jack.
Companies often wonder if they will need to provide the headphones themselves. In general, people who are blind or have low vision are used to having headphones on them because they need them to use ATMs. As a result, there would be no obligation to provide headphones to customers, though you are welcome to do so. Accessible kiosks also provide voice output via screen reader software, such as JAWS for Kiosk. The screen reader software does just that—it reads whatever text is on the screen out loud.
When people who are blind or have a low vision come up to your kiosk, they’ll know it’s speech-enabled because they will be able to feel braille or a tactile headphone symbol on the kiosk.
Having a Speech-Enabled Kiosk is a More Accessible Solution
There are three issues with using braille instead of a speech-enabled kiosk:
- Braille is not interactive. It does not allow someone to complete a task because it’s a one-sided output of information, unlike an interactive kiosk.
- Not every person who is blind or has low vision can read braille, and in fact, only a small percentage can.
- Items in braille are often not updated. There are many braille menus that have not been updated for the last few versions of the menu because it’s costly in both time and resources to keep braille menus up to date. And so, updating the braille menu often slips through the cracks. These un-updated menus are essentially useless.
In the case of a dynamic self-ordering kiosk, you do not have to take the second step to update the kiosk content. As soon as the text is updated, the screen reader will read the new text out loud. The information doesn’t have to be changed in two locations. It’s only changed in the application and then read dynamically. Your menu or content will be instantaneously up-to-date and accessible.
Creating a Usable Kiosk Experience
With all this in mind, speech-enabled kiosks using a screen reader make the most sense. It also makes sense to create useable kiosks from the beginning of a project. TPGi can make it less painful to retrofit, but the least painful retrofit is not a retrofit at all. It’s best to create an inclusive and accessible kiosk from the beginning of your kiosk project.
It’s also important to pursue usability versus simply checking accessibility compliance boxes. TPGi likes to say, “If it’s usable, it will be accessible.” The concept of usability boils down to this: can people accomplish the task they need to complete at the self-service kiosk? This is more important than any accessibility standard, but accessibility standards are still important, particularly from a legal perspective. Your kiosk will need to fulfill whatever accessibility standards are applicable in your geographical area. If your team doesn’t have a lot of accessibility experience, you can call in outside experts, like TPGi, to help you understand and meet accessibility requirements.
In summary, self-service kiosks are a part of everyday life, and that’s why the world needs accessible kiosks with Storm Audio-Nav Keypads, headphone jacks, and screen readers. The screen reader makes these kiosks more usable than braille accommodations, particularly because speech-enabled kiosks are more likely to stay up to date.
In Part 2, you can learn how to create and deploy a usable kiosk that will go beyond checking accessibility boxes.