Kiosks must be accessible to individuals with disabilities to be compliant with established laws and guidelines.

What is a kiosk?

A kiosk is a standalone structure that gives people the ability to perform certain tasks, often on their own in a self-service way. Kiosks usually run highly-specialized programs built to optimize specific functions, like placing an order, checking in or out, or finding information. They are usually digital and often feature a touchscreen monitor.

Why do kiosks have to be accessible?

Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. When individuals with disabilities are excluded from using the convenient or required systems that people without disabilities can use freely, that can constitute discrimination.

How can kiosks be made accessible?

All systems and devices that are used digitally should be manually tested for accessibility by experts and updated according to their recommendations and appropriate best practices.

Kiosks comprise a wide range of device types and applications. For example, many are popular consumer brand tablets running specialized software, mounted for ease of use. Others are larger structures or stations that feature hardware and software specific to their purpose.

Because kiosks vary so greatly in purpose and function, they need to be tested and considered on a case-by-case basis while also adhering to some standard of consistency and expected behavior so people know how to use them.

What are the digital accessibility considerations for kiosks?

As noted, kiosks may need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, these are some key questions to ask when creating and evaluating kiosks:

  • Instructions for use: Can instructions be made perceptible by more than one sense, or are they limited to the ability to see or hear them?
  • Screen readers: Can individuals who can’t see the screen or interface access the information easily through screen-reading technology, and will they know how to activate that option?
  • Privacy: Can individuals who use assistive options like screen readers be provided the same level of privacy?
  • Alternate input: Can individuals who can’t see, reach, or control a touchscreen for any reason control it another way that works for them?
  • Sounds: Can important information that’s conveyed by sound, like a chime or buzzer, also be clearly seen and understood on-screen?
  • Errors: Can individuals easily understand the errors they’ve made or why a transaction isn’t completing and is that information perceptible by more than one sense?

Kiosks may also need to meet accessibility standards in the built environment

The height, placement, and other factors related to the use of kiosks in the physical world may be critical to the ability of individuals to use them independently. Kiosks usually have a digital interface, but they exist in built locations, like stores, restaurants, and airports. To make them accessible, all aspects of their use have to be considered.

Learn about physical accessibility