The role of kiosks in public places has grown with the increasing level of digitization in every sphere of life. From the neighborhood grocery store to home improvement stores, movie theaters, historical sites, museums, amusement parks, airports, train stations, ATMs, and check-ins at government offices, kiosks are everywhere. Service providers must be aware of the specifications to be included in their procurement package while ordering accessible kiosks that can be conveniently used by all.
General guidelines for accessible kiosks
Creating kiosks with accessibility in mind is not a new concept, but there is still quite a bit of room for growth in the development of standardized practices. A quick Google search will populate several companies that advertise standardized kiosk standards, however, most appear to be proprietary. The City of Colorado Springs published kiosk standards for accessibility in 2020 that appear to punch the right boxes, which is a good start for anyone looking to create their own standards.
In general, when working to ensure accessibility in public-facing kiosks, the following functionalities and features should be considered and evaluated:
- Include a mode in the kiosk, which enables users to operate it without vision.
- Include a mode, which enables users with limited vision and hearing impairment to operate the kiosk without any need for audio output.
- Include a mode, which does not involve color perception.
- Include a mode, which makes the kiosk operable without auditory perception.
- Include a mode, which makes the kiosk operable without user speech.
- Include a mode, which does not involve the use of significant manual dexterity or motor skills.
- Include a mode, which makes it operable for users with limited strength and reach.
- Users with prosthetic devices should be able to operate the kiosk without the need for body contact.
- The kiosk should have a mode, which is free of response timed controls or permits the response to be adjusted as per user needs.
- The kiosk should be operable by users with cognitive skill limitations and include a mode that minimizes the use of language, memory, and learning skills.
Physical design considerations for accessible kiosks
- Each control on the kiosk should be distinguishable by tactile use.
- Kiosk controls should have a large print or Braille labels. If the QWERTY standard keyboard is not labeled with Braille, at least the non-standard controls and special function keys should have them.
- Kiosk height and screen spacing must be designed for all types of users. For example, the screen must be viewable and the controls must be usable by a person who is standing as well as someone using a wheelchair.
- Physical clearance area around the kiosk should be adequate for safe use by an individual using an assistive mobility device, such as a scooter or a wheelchair.
Interface design considerations for accessible kiosks
- People with limited motor skills may have difficulty using touch screen controls in a kiosk. Therefore, a physical keyboard should be included if the function involves entering text. A touchpad device, trackball, or mouse should be included if the interface involves the use of a pointer.
- The kiosk should allow for customization of the visual interface. This can ensure that a user with limited vision can increase the font size on the screen, and a user with limited color perception can switch to a different mode that involves no use of colors to operate the functions.
- The interface of the kiosk should provide a text-to-speech function to enable people with visual impairment to interact with it. A Braille sign should be provided to inform the user about how to switch to the text-to-speech output.
- After a user has completed their tasks, the interface of the kiosk should automatically return to the standard or default state.
Accessibility design should be tested by actual users
Accessibility features in a kiosk are only as good as an individual’s ability to utilize them. Therefore, persons with disabilities should always be a core input to test the kiosk for accessibility at the design and development stage. Their feedback will help in manufacturing a kiosk machine that can provide an independent and comfortable experience for every user.