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Designing a Universally Accessible Electronic Work Station and Kiosk

The following information is excerpted from a report by the Electronic One-Stop Steering Committee to Californias One-Stop Career Center Task Force. One-Stop Centers may find these guidelines helpful in designing electronic work stations and kiosks that are as accessible as possible for people with disabilities.


Presented by:
Electronic One-Stop Steering Committee
California One-Stop Career Center System
Office of Workforce Policy
P.O. Box 826880, MIC 77
Sacramento, CA 94280-0001
(916) 654-9995 FAX (916) 654-9863

Performance Goals For Universally Accessible Workstations

Universal design yields products that are usable by, and useful to, the widest possible range of people. The cost to create an accessible workstation/kiosk is not generally higher than to design an inaccessible workstation/kiosk. It is recognized that it is not possible to create a product that is usable by all people under all circumstances. The objective is to design a computer workstation/kiosk that:

Accessibility Guidelines

When readily achievable, the workstation/kiosk must provide the following types of access for individuals with special needs:

  1. Non-Visual Access

    • All important information is presented in an auditory fashion. This includes all directories, labels for all controls, and feedback from controls that are necessary to operate the workstations/kiosk.
  2. Non-Auditory Access

    • All essential information is presented in a visual fashion. This includes all Help functions and auditory information used to indicate the status of an operation (such as beeps).
  3. Non-Time Dependent Access

    • The workstation/kiosk allows operations to be done at any rate. Response times can be adjusted over a whole range from very slow to very fast.
  4. Minimal Physical Ability Access

    • The workstation/kiosk can be operated through the use of a single button or activation area.
    • The workstation/kiosk is compatible with assistive devices. The workstation/kiosk provides a standard port and standard data format that are compatible with assistive control and assistive display devices that may be used by individuals with disabilities.
    • The physical design of the workstation/kiosk accommodates the use of prosthetic or assistive devices.
    • The workstation/kiosk allows the user to reverse all choices or to confirm them before they take effect.
  5. Limited Reach or Strength Access

    • The workstation/kiosk can be used by individuals who are sitting, standing, and/or have limited strength.
  6. No-Color Perception Access

    • The workstation/kiosk has at least one mode that does not require color perception.
  7. No-Speech Capability Access

    • The workstation/kiosk has at least one mode that does not require the user to speak.
  8. Documentation Access

    • All documentation for the workstation/kiosk is available in electronic text form.
  9. Non-Allergenic Access

    • The workstation/kiosk is made of non-allergenic materials and will not trigger photo-sensitive or audio-sensitive epilepsy.
  10. Novice User Access

    • The workstation/kiosk provides context-sensitive help information
    • The workstation/kiosk provides a way for a novice user to learn about the system without outside help

Standard Features

These features make the workstation/kiosk more user-friendly:

  1. Adjustable font size and monitor contrast settings [helpful for persons with visual problems]
  2. The ability to adjust volume and pitch [for persons with hearing loss]
  3. Sufficient physical stability to permit a user to lean on or grab parts of the kiosk for support
  4. A universal Help button that activates on-screen user support
  5. The ability to turn off unwanted output modes (sound and visual display) to ensure privacy
  6. Operable by persons who have limited reading and/or language skills
  7. Operable by persons who have memory, cognitive, or learning impairments
  8. The capability for a repeat user to enter the system where he/she left off in a prior visit
  9. At least one way to search and locate information that is usable by people who read and write at no higher than a 6th grade level
  10. A secure identifier (such as a PIN) for each customer to ensure client confidentiality
  11. Information that is provided in more than one language (Spanish or other relevant languages) in areas where many residents dont speak English

These standards for performance goals are derived, in part, from the Trace Center, the Congressional Telecommunications Access Advisory Committee, and other state sources.

Techniques For Increasing Accessibility

The following examples describe techniques that allow individuals with a wide range of disabilities to access and use One-Stop workstations/kiosks. These techniques also work for individuals who have reading problems or cannot read English at all.

Use without vision

Individuals who have low vision or blindness cannot accurately use types of controls that require vision for use. These include

Keys and buttons: If the workstation includes buttons, make them discrete buttons that can be located tactually (by touch). If the workstation uses a flat membrane keyboard, putting a raised edge around the control areas or buttons makes it possible to tactually locate the keys. Once an individual locates the different controls, they need to identify what they are.

Use without hearing

Examples of use with adjustable response times

Operation with restricted physical abilities

Use with restricted reaching or limited strength

Examples of compatibility with Assistive Devices

Use without color perception

Use without requiring speech

Use that does not trigger motor/sensory seizures

Use with limited literacy

Use with restricted cognitive/memory abilities

These examples and techniques are derived, in part, from the Trace Center, the Congressional Telecommunications Access Advisory Committee, San Diego State University Center for Learning, Instruction, and Performance Technologies, and other sources. For a listing of all of the published strategies in addressing the performance guidelines, as well as for further information and links to ongoing discussions, see the Access Boards web page at: and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Researchs Rehabilitation Engineering Center on Access to Telecommunications Systems strategies web page at:

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