January 15, 2012

Redbox sued over access for visually impaired

Redbox comes under fire for non-compliance for visually impaired.

A San Francisco group that advocates for the visually impaired on Thursday sued a company that makes DVD-rental kiosks and the grocery store chain that hosts them, alleging that they discriminate against blind customers.

The group Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired said the touch-screens on Redbox rental kiosks, which can be found on the premises of many Bay Area Save Mart and Lucky stores, make it impossible or difficult for visually impaired customers to use the kiosks.

Lisamaria Martinez, a 30-year-old, legally blind Union City resident, enjoys sharing movies with her sighted husband, Joseph Bakker, and their 10-month-old-son, Erik. But she said trying to use a rental kiosk left her feeling embarrassed and helpless.

"It's a piece of entertainment that's part of everybody's life: to go and watch and rent movies at will," said Martinez, a plaintiff in the suit who relies on Braille and a cane. "I just want to be able to be part of that as well."

The technological advances that have led to increased automation and touch-screens in kiosks like Redbox's have actually been more limiting for the visually impaired, said Michael Nunez, an attorney with Disability Rights Advocates, which is representing Lighthouse.

"This is a trend not unique to Redbox," Nunez said. "Seeing kiosk technology propagated through airports, restaurants and shopping centers - it's a big concern that these technologies have a design that doesn't consider accessibility."

For the visually impaired, a touch-screen without any tactile or audio guides provides no helpful information. The kiosks could change their software to include screen-reading technology that could instruct users through audio, Nunez said.

Other DVD-rental companies such as Blockbuster have similar touch-screen kiosks in Bay Area supermarkets, but the advocates said they sued Illinois-based Redbox because it's a significant player in the market. They hope that a successful suit will encourage other kiosk-making companies to include accessible software on their products, Nunez said.

Save Mart spokeswoman Alicia Rockwell said the company had not yet been served with the suit and could not comment. A spokesman for Redbox declined to comment.

The suit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, asks the companies to make the kiosks accessible and pay undetermined damages to the plaintiffs, which include Martinez and four other Bay Area residents.

The Lighthouse has been involved in other accessibility negotiations, including efforts to install pedestrian audio signals at intersections in San Francisco.

E-mail Ellen Huet at [email protected]

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/12/BA0F1MOO29.DTL#ixzz1jY5rLnh0

Posted by staff at 10:26 AM

October 07, 2010

ADA & Kiosks - Discussion on Kiosk Industry Group

Discussion of ADA in practical life by people who make a living in the self-service kiosk industry.

Here is the link

Go Kiosk by the Kiosk Industry Group

Posted by staff at 09:17 AM

March 31, 2009

ADA Regulations - Changes in California

New resource information and links on ADA regulatory changes in California as result of senate bill becoming law January 1, 2009. Links and information are posted on the Kiosk Industry Group website.

Posted by staff at 10:41 AM

March 04, 2008

Is your self-service solution up to ADA standards?

Great article by Derek Fretheim on ADA and the actual definitions as they apply to self-service terminals.

Source Link

By Derek Fretheim contributor

04 Mar 2008

I’ve been in the self-service kiosk industry for nearly 15 years and completed hundreds of kiosk projects. The first kiosk project I was involved with was funded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) right after the Northridge earthquake in 1994.

In those days, a state-of-the art kiosk used an IBM 286 with the largest available hard drive, which at that time, consisted of 4GB. If you wanted rich media content with video, you had to master large laser discs — quite an expensive proposition when you want to change or modify content. This was the pre-Internet era when a dedicated T-1 line cost $2,200 per month. Back in 1994, the ability of physically handicapped individuals to access a kiosk was not really considered on any project. No real surprise, since regulations often occur after something is developed or demand creates equal access rules.

Sure ADA was law, but hardly anyone knew how to decipher it.

Today, it is a much different story. The advances in technology are evident with that same hard drive (memory) being easily found in a camera card or USB micro drive. Multiple kiosks are found in nearly every grocery store for various types of applications.

It’s true for regulations as well. The American Disabilities Act (ADA) is in full force with a number of rules applying to kiosks.

ADA History

Signed into law by President George Bush Sr. on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is undeniably the most comprehensive formulation of disability rights in the history of the United States or of any other nation. More than 50 million Americans have some kind of physical, sensory, cognitive or mental disability. At its core, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the areas of employment, public services provided by state and local governments, public services operated by private entities, transportation and telecommunications.

ADA regulations place far-reaching provisions and definite laws for employment, state and local government, transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications. ADA law has three specific titles. Title I addresses employment and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Title II addresses access to programs, activities and services of public entities and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Title III addresses public accommodations by private business and prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

Who Regulates ADA?

The US Architectural & Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) or "Access Board" oversees the Americans with Disabilities Act and related matters such as compliance issues, clarification, guidance etc. The ADA accessibility guidelines specifically mention ATMs, but not kiosks. The question is whether ADA and accessibility guidelines cover kiosks and information transaction machines (ITMs), as well as ATMs. The conclusion from the Accessibility Board is that interactive kiosks are covered under ADA, and that the accessibility guidelines are the best relevant guidance available.

So let’s break down ADA specific to kiosks and determine if ADA law applies to your self-service project. We’ll start by asking a few qualifying questions.

1. Is the kiosk going to be used in a public environment? If Yes, ADA applies.

2. Is the kiosk going to be used internally only for employee use? If Yes, ADA applies.

3. Is the kiosk operated by a Federal, State, City or other governmental organization? If Yes, ADA applies.

4. Does the kiosk or any portion of the project receive any Federal funds? If, Yes, ADA applies. In addition, Section 508 Guidelines are in force.

ADA and Kiosks

Let’s break down ADA as it applies to kiosks. Basically, ADA laws ensure the kiosk owner will provide equal access for persons with disabilities. This means hearing and visually impaired individuals and persons with physical disabilities who may be confined to a wheelchair must have access in the same manner that an individual who has no physical disability does. In a self-service kiosk application, this not only applies to accessibility to the kiosk but also to the touchscreen and other peripherals, such as a keyboard, bill acceptor, printer, etc.

This Redbox kiosk meets current ADA regulations.
First, let’s review access to the kiosk. ADA law states there must be clear accessibility to the kiosk. In other words, enough room so a person in a wheelchair can maneuver to the screen and gain access. The law requires at least 34-inches of clear space directly in front of the kiosk for persons in wheel chairs. If there is a requirement for access from the side, then there must be 34-inches of clear side access as well.

Second, let’s review access to the touchscreen and components. The law provides ranges of maximum and minimum height for components with unobstructed and obstructed forward reach and unobstructed and obstructed side reach.

"Unobstructed reach" can be defined as a kiosk system that has no large protruding extension which would prevent or hinder a person interacting with the component. "Obstructed reach" is defined as a kiosk system that would contain a large shelf/counter and/or have a recessed monitor that would limit access to the component by the user. Here are front reach and side reach access as defined in ADA law:

• Front reach unobstructed access — Minimum of 15-inches from the floor and maximum of 48-inches high from the floor.

• Front reach obstructed access — Set back of zero to 20-inches with maximum of 48-inches high from the floor for the component. The law will allow a set back of 25-inches, but the maximum height drops to 44-inches high from the floor.

• Side reach unobstructed access — Maximum of 48-inches from the floor.

• Side reach obstructed access — Set back of zero to 10 inches with maximum of 48 inches from the floor for the component. If the set back is within the range of 10 inches to 24 inches, then the maximum height drops to 44 inches from the floor.

Here’s where ADA gets tricky. Placement of components also determines maximum height. A shelf should range from 28 inches to a maximum of 32 inches from the floor. This should serve as a good benchmark for input components such as a keyboard, credit-card reader, pin pad, etc. Additionally, individual components or functions may require guidance outside of simple access to the kiosk and its components. For example, if the kiosk has a telephone handset, then ADA specifies the type of handset and functional requirements needed. Likewise, if the application has audio, then ADA defines how to address individuals with a hearing impairment. Lastly, signage elements for components and directions placed on the kiosk will require raised characters and other provisions listed in ADA Chapter 7.

In summary, I have yet to see any project be exempt from ADA regulations, so I am very confident ADA applies to any kiosk project. The process of understanding ADA can be complicated so it is important you conduct proper research to determine the kiosk meets ADA law. I encourage you to use the “if then” process for every component and function. Build a matrix to ensure compliance. The matrix should be something like: If your kiosk uses a touchscreen, then the maximum height of the monitor should not exceed 48 inches. If it's using a touchscreen, then these (Specify) type(s) of touch technologies comply with ADA. If it uses a shelf, then the maximum height of the shelf should not exceed 32 inches. If it uses a telephone handset, then the height shall conform to ADA guidelines (Chapter 3, 308 Reach Ranges) and audio controls must meet guidelines (Chapter 7, 704 Telephones). The process of understanding ADA can be overwhelming, but with proper research and planning, complying with ADA law can be accomplished.
Online Resources

  • ADA Home Page

  • Reach Ranges
  • Accessibility Standards for Accessible Design
  • Section 508 - Federal Buying Standards

    Posted by staff at 10:16 AM

    June 08, 2007

    ADA Compliance Notes

    If you think you have no reason to be concerned about getting sued over the Americans with Disabilities Act, think again, especially if your company uses any self-service, application, or vending kiosks. Article from Inside Recruiting.

    Because kiosks are electronic devices, and part of cyberspace, the ADA has said such kiosks are "fair game" for ADA liability coverage, according to Carolyn Burnette, partner in the law firm Shaw Valenza in California.

    Rules apply to such kiosks, and all employers must provide "reasonable access," explains Burnette.

    Burnette cited the example of how the National Federation of the Blind brought a class-action suit against a major retailer due to its inaccessibility issues. Burnette says to avoid a similar headache for your organization, companies should revise systems to include a Braille reader, audio prompts, and other links for disabled-access capabilities.

    Burnette says immediate steps you can take include:

    Just last month, for example, Amtrak announced its second generation of self-service ticketing, fully compliant with all ADA guidelines. Beyond Braille and specially adapted headsets, other changes include new ticketing kiosks, security camera, barcode and credit-card readers, dual printers, and an encrypted PIN pad. The Amtrak kiosk was designed and engineered by KIOSK located in Colorado.

    According to Francie Mendelsohn, president of Summit Research Associates, the University of Wisconsin's Trace Research and Development Center is a pioneer of cross-disability access. The system "pioneered" EZ Access, a simple set of buttons that allows universal access to technology. Mendelsohn also recommends the World Wide Web Consortium and CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology).

    Finally, the Job Accommodation Network recommends the following ideas for employers to consider when purchasing equipment for the workplace:

    Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation. Carolyn Burnette, an employment lawyer at the firm Shaw Valenza, spoke about these and other employment law issues during a recent conference call. Subscribers to the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership can contact Todd Raphael about getting a tape.

    Posted by staff at 06:55 AM

    June 28, 2005

    Disabled Access to Kiosks

    Most kiosks are not designed for access by disabled persons. Self-service kiosk check-in terminals at airlines are one example. California is considering legislation to change that.

    Published: June 28, 2005

    Even during peak travel times, the line at the American Airlines ticket counter in Philadelphia moves quickly for most business travelers. But not for Peggy Elliott, who waited nearly an hour to check in for a recent flight.

    "People were zipping past me because they could use the self-service kiosks," said Ms. Elliott, a lawyer from Grinnell, Iowa. "I had to stand in a long line to wait for a ticket agent."

    Then again, Ms. Elliott is not like most business travelers. She is blind.

    New technologies, including airport check-in kiosks and Web-based reservations systems, have been heavily promoted by the travel industry as conveniences for customers. Unfortunately, they are not convenient for all customers.

    Self-service airline terminals can be difficult or impossible to use for people with mobility, visual or hearing impairments. The same goes for hotel kiosks. And Web sites that are not carefully coded can be rendered useless to blind travelers who are using special screen readers to get access.

    These shortcomings shut out more travelers than commonly thought. The latest census reported that one in five Americans have a "long-lasting condition or disability," including 9.3 million people with sight or hearing loss.

    "Basically, they've developed all this technology with very little input by people with disabilities," said Candy Harrington, the editor of Emerging Horizons, a magazine about accessible travel. "I believe the travel industry wants to accommodate as many people as possible, but it's not easy."

    For example, to make check-in kiosks work for travelers with visual impairments, the machines would have to undergo a costly retrofit to add a Braille reader or audio prompts. Alternately, the airline or hotel could provide an employee to help people with disabilities use the machines.

    That is what should have happened to Ms. Elliott in Philadelphia, according to American Airlines. "The kiosks have agents and customer service representatives who circulate around them to offer assistance to any passenger who may need some sort of help with the process," said an airline spokesman, Tim Smith.

    Read More -- Convenience, but Not for Everyone - New York Times

    Posted by keefner at 03:09 PM

    December 16, 2003

    Accessibility and User Friendly

    Hardware items help clear the path to accessibility

    12/15/03; Vol. 22 No. 34

    User friendly

    By John McCormick
    Special to GCN

    Hardware items help clear the path to accessibility

    There are tens of millions of disabled workers and potential workers in the United States and tens of millions more who could benefit from being able to communicate or learn more easily using computers.

    But computer products havent always made it easy. At first, computer software was accessible for many disabled users because it was text-oriented, but early hardware was not very user-friendly.

    As the computer revolution moved on and more accessible hardware and tools became available, Microsoft Windows and Web browsers, with graphical user interfaces that were not particularly easy for many disabled users to work with, became the standard.

    But today, Windows operating systems and Internet Explorer, by far the dominant products in the government arena, come with many software accessibility features, and a wide array of hardware is available to make them easier to use.

    Although most of the same companies have been involved in this field for well over a decade, recently some new companies, many of them foreign, have shown increasing interest in producing accessibility products that are filtering into the U.S. market through local distributors.

    Accessible hardware generally is divided into categories according to impairment; for example, although many visually impaired users can simply use a standard keyboard, especially with speech feedback, some people prefer to have the keys labeled in Braille.

    Prelabeled keyboards are available, as are stick-on labels that can be used to quickly and easily modify an existing keyboard.

    Braille devices

    Still other users regularly use Braille devices and can work much more easily with a real six-key Braille input device. They would find it as difficult to switch between Braille and QWERTY as other users would to switch between DVORAK and QWERTY.

    Greystone Digital Inc.s $159 Big Keys LX, for users with limited vision or motor control, has QWERTY and ABC versions.

    Mobility impairments, many of which can easily be addressed by relatively inexpensive hardware, range from repetitive stress injuries to the challenges of quadriplegics who can only move their heads.

    Some users need a guarded keyboard or one with large keys. This is important for those who lack fine motor control. Other users need a smaller-than-usual keyboard to compensate for impaired range of motion.

    Customized keyboards can sometimes address cognitive impairment.

    Using alternative hardware and software to make computers more accessible to disabled workers isnt simply a good investment in experienced employees; in most instances, its the law.

    Fortunately, its usually inexpensive. Most adaptive technology isnt complex or sophisticated. Often a better mouse pad, or a more user-friendly workstation with adjustable keyboard mount, makes all the difference.

    Adapting a desktop system can be as simple as raising the monitor up on a few phone books or duct-taping some cardboard glare shields to the side of the monitor.

    But even severely impaired workers who can only move their heads can use a standard computer with the addition of voice recognition software and a head-mounted cursor controller. The total cost could easily be less than $2,000 for such individuals, which almost certainly meets the Americans with Disabilities Acts definition of a reasonable accommodation requirement.

    Many off-the-shelf ergonomic products can also adapt workstations for disabled users. Before you explore the expensive customized devices that are really intended for severely impaired users, consider the alternatives you can find in any office supply catalog.

    These include monitor and keyboard arms or larger monitors. You might even find that customizing softwarefor example, adding boilerplate and macros to a word processor programis all thats needed.

    In the accompanying chart, Ive tried to focus on less-well-known companies and devices, some of them new to the market.

    For the most comprehensive list of adaptive technology, check out the site, at www.abledata.com, of Abledata of Silver Spring, Md., sponsored by the Education Departments National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The site includes a searchable online database that lists nearly 20,000 individual adaptive devices and programs.

    John McCormick is a free-lance writer and computer consultant. He was a judge in the 1991-92 Johns Hopkins National Search for Computing Applications to Assist Persons with Disabilities and is the author of a 1994 book on adaptive office technology that was co-sponsored by Government Computer News.

    Government Computer News (GCN) daily news -- federal, state and local government technology; User friendly

    Posted by Craig at 02:38 PM

    November 17, 2003

    Feds fine Delta

    Delta Air Lines agreed to a $1.35 million civil penalty for failing to provide adequate help to passengers using wheelchairs.

    Feds fine Delta for wheelchair allegations

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Delta Air Lines agreed to a $1.35 million civil penalty for failing to provide adequate help to passengers using wheelchairs.

    The Department of Transportation said the Atlanta airline's fine is the largest so far for alleged violations of the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act.

    "We found it was a serious violation," DOT spokesman Bill Mosley said.

    However, Delta will only have to pay the government $100,000 if it reduces complaints from disabled passengers and spends at least $1.25 million to improve services.

    The DOT said Delta failed to provide wheelchairs in some cases, or was slow to help passengers, or left passengers stranded in wheelchairs or on planes for extended periods. Under terms of the deal, Delta did not admit to the allegations.

    Since March, the DOT has fined 10 carriers under the act. Previously, the largest was a $1.2 million fine levied on American Airlines. Last month, the DOT assessed a $125,000 penalty against AirTran Airways, the Orlando-based discount carrier that has its flight hub in Atlanta.

    The DOT typically agrees to cut the fine dramatically if the airline agrees to spend a certain amount on better service to disabled passengers.

    Delta spokesman John Kennedy said the carrier is spending more than the required $1.25 million, including $2 million on a computer training system to make employees and airport contractors more familiar with the requirements of the law. He said Delta was also the first to create a manager position to monitor compliance with the law.

    "Delta is fully committed to meeting the terms of the order," said Kennedy.

    The DOT said Delta's fine was based on a "significant number of apparent violations" revealed during an investigation of passenger complaints filed with the DOT and Delta from 2000 to 2002.

    The law requires airlines to help passengers on and off planes, to have space reserved to store wheelchairs, and to promptly deal with complaints

    Posted by Craig at 04:15 PM