Last month I went to a local Future Shop, a consumer electronics store, to purchase a copy of Apple's OS X Snow Leopard operating system. The staff of the store were very helpful in locating the item for me and showed me to the checkout counter. At the checkout counter I was somewhat surprised to find that the point-of-sales (POS) device, used to process credit and bank card transactions, used a touch-screen interface. The use of a touch-screen interface on a POS device means that users who cannot see the screen are not able to independently enter their PIN, a piece of information that most individuals in our society rigorously protect.
I am completely blind and operating a touch-screen interface can be a challenge at the best of times, even on my iPhone 3G S, which has built-in self-voicing functionality. Along with speaking the item under the users finger, the iPhone 3G S allows the user to confirm their selection, before activating the selected "button". The POS device that I encountered at Future Shop had neither of these features, and I have not been able to find any POS devices that have either of these features in my research.
I will note here that even a traditional POS device isn't particularly friendly to users who are blind, deafblind or partially sighted. Most traditional POS devices use a tiny LCD display to show the user instructions, and the amount that they will be charged. These displays are completely unreadable by the blind, and are quite difficult to read by people with even a moderate vision impairment. I personally have never experienced a self-voicing POS, whether of the traditional or touch-screen variety. If you have experienced one of these devices I'd love to hear about it in the comments to this post. Please make sure to let us know where you were when you experienced this technology, so that we can congratulate the store and manufacturer.
Listed below are resources regarding accessible point-of-sale and similar devices. If you know of a useful resource that is not on this list please let me know through the comments section, so that I can update the list.
Expression of the need for accessible devices
Burns, N. (2005, February). California Legislation and Accessibility Issues. Braille Monitor. Retrieved from http://nfb.org/legacy/bm/bm05/bm0502/bm050206.htm
Huffman, L. (2009, July). Combating the Small Visual Display Invasion: AFB Works to Set a Display Quality Standard. AccessWorld. Retrieved from http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw100407
IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center. (2008). The need for accessible self-service travel kiosks. Retrieved from http://www-03.ibm.com/able/news/selfservkiosk.html
Lampert, A. (2010, February 19). Card readers draw complaint. The Montreal Gazette. Retreived from http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Card+readers+draw+complaint/2584...
National Council on Disability. (2004, October 28). Design for Inclusion: Creating a New Marketplace -- Industry White Paper. Retrieved from http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2004/inclusion_whitepaper.htm
Guidelines and Recommendations
Accessible Information and Communications Standards Development Committee. (2009, April 28). Draft Proposed Infromation and Communications Standard.
Fain, B. (Unknown). POS Accessibility Monograph. Retreived from http://accessibility.gtri.gatech.edu/library/POS%20Accessibility%20Monog...
British Columbia Institute of Technology. (Unknown). Evaluation of point-of-sale device accessibility. Retrieved from http://www.bcit.ca/appliedresearch/part/projects/pos.shtml
Canadian Standards Association. (2007). Accessible design for self-service interactive devices, CAN/CSA-B651.2-07.
Fluid Project. (2010, January 25). Accessibility Guidelines for UI and Physical Kiosk Design. Fluid Project Wiki. Retrieved from http://wiki.fluidproject.org/display/fluid/Accessibility+Guidelines+for+...
IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center. (2009, July 1). Hardware self Contained, Closed Products checklist. Retrieved from http://www-03.ibm.com/able/guidelines/peripherals/accessperipherals.html
IT Accessibility and Workforce Division, GSA. (Unknown). Summary of Section 508 Standards. Retrieved from http://www.section508.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Content&ID=11
Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee. (2008, April). Report to the Access Board: Refreshed Accessibility Standards and Guidelines in Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology. Retreived from http://access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/report/
(2008, June 20). Alleged Criminal Organization Specialized in the Theft of Point-of-Sale Terminals and Debit Card Cloning Dismantled. News Releases - C Division (RCMP). Retreived from http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/qc/nouv-news/com-rel/2008/080620-eng.htm
Examples of accessible devices
Allen, C. (2006, January). Access at the Point-of-Sale: The U.S. Netcom Solution. Braille Monitor. Retrieved from http://nfb.org/legacy/bm/bm06/bm0601/bm060111.htm
IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center. (Unknown). Accessible Travel Kiosk. Retrieved from http://www-01.ibm.com/software/ucd/gallery/kiosks_research.html
Trace Center. (2004, April 30). Automated Postal Kiosks Include EZ Access, News and Events. Retrieved from http://trace.wisc.edu/news/archives/000196.php
Vanderheiden, G. C. (Unknown). Use of audio-haptic interface techniques to allow nonvisual access to touchscreen appliances. Retrieved from http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/touchscreen/chi_conf.htm
An act to amend Section 13082 of the Financial Code, relating to point-of-sale systems, Assembly Bill No. 1489, CHAPTER 49 Retrieved from http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/05-06/bill/asm/ab_1451-1500/ab_1489_bill_2...
Canada Human Rights Act, R.S. 1985, c. H-6. Retrieved from http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/H-6/index.html
Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H-19. Retrieved from http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h19_e...
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2010, January 1). California Law Now Requires Tactile Keypads at every Check-out Location. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2010/01/california-keypad-law/
RNIB. (2009, September 11). Excerpts from the Disability Discrimination Act. Retrieved from http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/webaccessibility/lawsandstandards/P...
Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794d. Retrieved from http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=browse_usc&doc...
Trace Center. (2001, May). Compliance with the ADA for ITMs (Information / Transaction Machines: Kiosks, ATMs etc.).etc.. Retrieved from http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/compliance_with_the_ada_for_itm/comply.html
Website of the UK government. (Unknown). The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) : Directgov - Disabled people. Retrieved from http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/RightsAndObligations/Disabili...
Legal Settlements and Rulings
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2009, August 18). Trader Joe’s Point of Sale Agreement and Amendment. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2009/08/trader-joes-pos-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2009, July 30). CVS Accessible Web Site and Point of Sale Settlement Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2009/07/cvs-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2009, May 14). Target Point of Sale Settlement Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2009/05/target-settlement-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2009, April 23). Staples Accessible Web Site and Point of Sale Settlement Agreement
. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2009/04/staples-settlement-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2008, December 10). Dollar General Settlement Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2008/12/dollar-general-settlement-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2008, April 30). Rite Aid Tactile POS Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2008/04/rite-aid-pos-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2007, August 31). 7-Eleven Point of Sale Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2007/10/7-eleven-pos-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2007, May 1). RadioShack POS and Web Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2007/05/radio-shack-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2006, September 30). Safeway POS Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2006/09/safeway-agreement/
Law Office of Lainey Feingold. (2005, October 15). Wal-Mart POS Agreement. Retrieved from http://lflegal.com/2005/10/walmart-pos-agreement/