Examples of Electronically Accessible Work Stations and Kiosks
There is no one perfect way to design universally accessible work stations and kiosks. One-Stop Centers across the country are trying a variety of ideas and technologies to best meet the needs of customers with disabilities. The following examples are excerpted from a U.S. Department of Labor report, Report-Out On Discussions With States About Facilitated Self-Service to Special Applicant Groups.
Brevard County, Florida
Brevard Job Link adapted Workforce Organizer Screen software from Minnesota. The software overlays Windows, providing a user-friendly interface for all customers, particularly those who are unaccustomed to computers.
Riverside County has deployed 40 ADA-compliant information kiosks in high profile, strategic locations. Text on the touch-screen is presented at a lower reading comprehension level with pictures to accommodate people who have difficulty reading English. A help button activates a video of a person explaining the information specific to that screen. A phone handset enables customers to access companies and organizations listed on a screen without having to dial numbers. Customers can use the phone handset to schedule appointments, or register for classes with a local training provider or community college.
TouchMedia is working with Riverside and several other Service Delivery Areas (SDAs) to determine new features for the next generation of kiosks, such as sign language on-screen and Braille-to-text interface.
The Louisville Workforce Development Cabinet has deployed accessible workstations in five One-Stop Centers. Each workstation is equipped with:
A second generation of workstations is being designed in collaboration with the Kentucky Department for the Blind. Each workstation has:
The Department for the Blind is also testing the Head Master and the Wivik on-screen keyboard on this prototype.
Once both prototypes have been used and assessed, the best features of both will be installed on workstations and deployed throughout the state of Kentucky.
Each One Stop Center features one "super-accessible" workstation, which has:
Minnesota utilizes AT&T's Translation Service to assist customers who do not speak English, and provides phone access to job listings via Jobline. Jobline, developed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), is a toll-free service that enables One-Stop customers to access both America?s Job Bank and participating state job banks through the telephone. Callers can create and save personal profiles that include speech preferences and access context-sensitive help information at any time. NFB will train participating agencies and entities in the use of the system. Jobline is expected to be implemented in as many as 40 states by early 2001.
The Trace Research And Development Center
The Trace Research and Development Center at the University of Wisconsin has developed a set of "EZ Access Features" that can be built into standard commercially available kiosks and workstations, making them accessible to a wide range of people. The Trace Center works directly with computer companies, software engineers, and government agencies to integrate access features and enhancements into standard devices to make them operable by people who would not otherwise be able to use them. These features are easily activated but do not change the way that the devices look or operate for people who can use them in their standard mode. These features add less than 10% to the cost of each kiosk. EZ Access Features include the following options:
All One-Stops are equipped with adjustable workstations to accommodate people using wheelchairs, Zoom Text (screen magnification and screen reading) for people with low vision, and a TTY and FM Loop for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The FM Loop enables hard of hearing customers to participate in training with other customers and to engage in one on one counseling with One-Stop or VR staff. One-Stop customers who do not use or cannot access computers can search for Vermont jobs via Vermont?s toll-free telephone system.
Two different types of accessible workstations have been developed using "off the shelf" technology. The workstations have been available in Madison since 1996. These prototypes will change based upon customer feedback. One type utilizes a touch-screen system and has a 17-inch monitor that can be raised or lowered. People who cannot touch the screen with their hands can use a mouth stick or a trackball.
The other workstation is accessible to people who could not use a touch-screen system, such as people who have low vision or are blind, as well as people who are unable to use their hands. It has a 21-inch monitor that slides forward for better viewing, both a standard keyboard and a large print keyboard, screen magnification software, screen reader software, a speech synthesizer, voice recognition software, and Braille printing.
Both workstations have adjustable furniture and aids that can accommodate wheelchairs. Customers wishing to use these workstations usually meet first with an Accessibility Coordinator, who helps them to determine which workstation would best serve their needs and provides training.
Additionally, Racine has developed a bilingual touch-screen kiosk that provides both audio and text versions of the One-Stop Center's menu of services in both English and Spanish. The kiosk can be used to schedule certain appointments, such as to meet with a career counselor.
The following is an additional example that was not in the USDOL report:
A technology sub-committee developed specific recommendations for the One-Stop sites in Herkimer, Madison and Oneida. The recommendations consist of two differently configured accessible workstations for each center. The intent is that between these two work stations, people with a wide range of disabilities will be able to fully use the computerized technology and resources. The recommendations for these work stations contain specific equipment requirements. In addition, the sub-committee developed a list of recommended assistive technology, software, and additional recommendations.
Institute for Community Inclusion