Kiosks: Accessibility standardsSkip to issue
The discussion is now closed. The final summary is available.
§1. Using standards for similar machines
Now, there is no accessibility standard specifically for check-in kiosks. The Department of Justice has ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010) for automated teller machines (ATMs) and fare machines. The U.S. Access Board has standards for machines like copiers, printers, and information kiosks. Both DOJ and the Access Board are currently involved in rulemaking to update their standards and include machines like check-in kiosks. (See the DOJ Proposal; the Access Board Proposal). But, these rulemakings are still in the early stages and won’t be effective for several years — and won’t apply to all check-in kiosks anyway.
DOT has been working with DOJ and the Access Board to come up with appropriate accessibility standards for all these machines. DOT is now proposing to base its kiosk accessibility standard on DOJ’s current ATM standard, adding certain parts of the Access Board’s current standard. DOT expects its standard to be compatible with the standards eventually adopted by the other agencies.
The goal is to make kiosks accessible for people with visual, mobility, tactile and hearing disabilities. DOT notes that IBM has already developed an accessible kiosk equipped with an industry-standard audio connector, accessible hardware controls, and text-to-speech output; testing shows it allows independent check-in by people with vision and mobility impairments. DOT estimates that in the first 10 years after the new regulations become effective, travelers with disabilities will check in using an accessible kiosk more than 12.4 million times. The details of the proposed standard are explained in the next Sections.
§2. ”Self-contained”; privacy
Kiosks must be “self-contained,” meaning the traveler does not need any assistive technology to use them other than a personal headset or audio loop. The kiosk must enable travelers with disabilities to receive and input information with the same degree of privacy available to other travelers.
- What are the costs associated with providing a handset or industry-standard headset connector?
- Instead of the kiosk itself having a headset connector or handset, is wireless technology available for people to use smart phones or other portable devices and Bluetooth to communicate with the kiosk? If so, should DOT require use of this technology?
- What about only requiring amplification control for the kiosk’s speaker, without also requiring a handset or headset connector? (See Section 6 of this post.) What are the costs and benefits of this alternative? Are there privacy issues?
§3. Height; clear floor space
Kiosks must be installed in a way that meets the DOJ 2010 ADA Clear Floor or Ground Space Standards. In general, these require clear space of 30” x 48” minimum, with requirements for knee and toe clearance and additional requirements for machines in alcoves or other partially enclosed spaces.
Height also must comply with the DOJ 2010 ADA Reach Standards. In general, all operable parts must be placed no more than 48 inches and no less than 15 inches from the floor. There are additional requirements for machines with partial obstructions. And, based on the DOJ 2010 ADA Display Screen Visibility Standard, the kiosk screen must be visible from a location 40” above the floor.
- Is there any aspect of physical layout that isn’t covered here?
§4. Operating parts; input controls
Kiosks would have to comply with the DOJ 2010 ADA Operable Parts Standards. Specifically, travelers must be able to operate all kiosk parts with one hand, without tight grasping, pinching, or twisting the wrist. No more than 5 pounds of force can be required. Beyond the ADA standards, DOT’s proposed standards would require:
- All operable parts must be designed so that users can discern them by touch without accidentally activating something.
- At least one tactilely discernible input control must be provided for each function.
- Any key surfaces not on active areas of the display screen must be raised above surrounding surfaces. Where touch keys are the only method of input, each must be tactilely discernable from surrounding surfaces and adjacent keys.
- Status indicators (including the status of all locking or toggle controls or keys) must be discernible both visually and through either touch or sound.
- When a timed response is needed, the unit must alert the user by sound or touch and give him/her a way to request more time.
- Numeric keys must be arranged in a 12-key ascending or descending telephone keypad layout. The central number 5 key must be tactilely distinct to allow the user to orient him/herself on the keypad by touch. Function keys must visually contrast from background surfaces. The following function key surfaces must have these tactile symbols:
Enter or Proceed – raised circle
Clear or Correct – raised left arrow
Cancel – raised letter “x”
Add Value – raised plus sign
Decrease Value – raised minus sign
- How costly will it be to make the various usable parts of kiosks perceptible by touch? DOT notes that software is now available to give people with vision impairments access to touchscreen-based technology. Recent versions of Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and mobile devices with Google’s Android platform, are equipped with screen-reading technology that uses built-in voiceover software and a touch-sensitive track pad to give a spoken description of what is on the display as the user drags a finger over the track pad. Should the proposed requirement that input controls be tactilely discernible be revised to allow for this kind of input mechanism? Do most users who are blind or have low vision know how to use such touchscreens?
- Is it necessary to require that the status of all locking or toggle controls be visually and either audibly or tactilely discernible?
- Are time-outs really an accessibility barrier? What technical or other problems would be involved in requiring audible or tactile timeout alerts?
- Is the proposed standard for the numeric keypad the best arrangement to require?
- Should DOT specify the arrangement of alphabetic keys?
- Are there other function keys that should have a corresponding required tactile symbol? What should the symbol(s) be?
§5. Speech-enabled; captioned
The kiosk must be speech-enabled. Operating instructions, visible transaction prompts, user input verification, error messages, and all other displayed information necessary for full use must be independently accessible to travelers who are vision-impaired. Audible tones can be used instead of speech to represent visual output not displayed for security purposes, like asterisks for PINs. Also, advertisements that don’t convey information used in the transaction don’t have to be audible.
The audible output must be coordinated with the visual output on the display. (Coordination allows users with low vision or cognitive disabilities to get information simultaneously by sight and hearing.) It must automatically stop when a transaction is selected, and the user must be able to pause it and to repeat it. The speech output must be delivered through a mechanism that is readily available to all users—e.g., an industry-standard connector for personal headphones or a telephone handset.
When receipts, tickets, etc. are the result of a transaction, audible output must be provided for all information the traveler needs to complete or verify the transaction. What this information is will depend on the particular transaction and on how the automated kiosk works. But the following information would specifically be required:
- For boarding passes and similar documents, concourse, gate number, seat number and boarding group must be provided audibly
- Boarding passes, receipts, tickets, or similar output delivered to a smart phone or PDA must be accompanied by the same audio information as if they were printed
- Is there other information that DOT should require to be audible?
The following information is specifically excluded from the audio requirement:
- The location of the kiosk; date and time of the transaction; customer account number; kiosk identifier
- Information that duplicates information audibly presented earlier in the transaction
- The contract of carriage, fare rules, itineraries or other “supplemental information” that may come with a boarding pass
- Are these exclusions reasonable?
- Is there other information that could be excluded without creating problems for travelers with disabilities?
Multimedia content containing speech or other audio information (e.g., beeps or other tones) necessary to understand the content must be open-captioned or closed-captioned. Advertisements, etc. that don’t convey information that can be used in the transaction do not have to be captioned.
- Are there any other aspects of audible output and captioning that DOT should cover?
§6. Volume control
If audible content is delivered through a handset or headset connector for private listening, there must be some way for the user to control the volume. If sound is delivered through speakers on the kiosk, users must be able to increase volume to at least 65 dB SPL. If the surrounding noise level is more than 45 dB SPL, users must be able to increase volume by at least 20 dB above the background noise level. The kiosk must automatically reset the volume to the default level after every user.
- If both volume control and the ability to use a personal audio loop are required, can the same industry-standard connector be used for both speech navigation and the kiosk’s audio output? If so, how would users select the function that meets their particular disability-related needs?
- Would volume controls similar to those provided in speech-enabled ATMs be useful in the airport environment?
- Should the dB amplification gain for the volume control for private listening be specified?
- Is the proposed 65 dB amplification gain for voice output in public areas sufficient to address the needs of travelers who are hard of hearing?
- Is the proposed 20 dB additional amplification requirement for nosier environments sufficient to address the needs of travelers who are hard of hearing?
- Should different amplification gains be specified for outputs from public speakers vs. personal assistive listening devices?
See what DOT said: SPRNM Kiosk Technical Criteria (4)
§7. Display characteristics; Braille
Characters displayed on the screen must be in a sans serif font, at least 3/16th inch high (measured by an uppercase I). They must contrast with the background (either light on dark, or dark on light). Color coding cannot be used as the only means of conveying information.
Braille instructions for how to turn on the speech mode must be provided. The Braille has to comply with the DOJ 2010 ADA Standard for Signs.
§8. Biometric authentication
Kiosks may not use biometric identification (e.g., fingerprint, palm print, iris recognition) as the only method of user identification unless a least two biometric options using different biological characteristics are provided. For example, a person without arms could not use fingerprint authentication but could use an iris scan alternative. This provision does not require kiosks to add biometric features; if and when such features are used, this would be the standard.
- How important it is to have a provision like this–and what would it cost?
See what DOT said: SNPRM: Kiosk Technical Criteria (7)
§9. Anything missing?
Are any other accessible features that should be included in the proposed standards? Are there functions kiosks perform that haven’t been covered?