November 17, 2022
Office of Technical and Information Services US Access Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000,
Washington, DC 20004–1111
RE: Docket No: ATBCB–2022–0004 RIN 3014–AA44
Americans With Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities; Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines; Self- Service Transaction Machines and Self-Service Kiosks
Dear Members of the US Access Board:
This letter outlines the response of the National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s transformative organization of the blind, to the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published on September 21, 2022, regarding accessibility requirements for Self-Service Transaction Machines (SSTMs) and self-service kiosks for persons with disabilities. We thank the US Access Board for seeking public comment on this important subject and urge the Access Board to incorporate the following.
Question 1. In this rulemaking, the Board intends to cover fixed or built-in electronic devices that are designed for unattended operation by customers (i.e., ‘‘self- service’’) to conduct a transaction. It also intends to address fixed or built-in self- service kiosks, including those used to check-in, place an order, obtain a product, or retrieve information. Are there capabilities, functions, or other objective criteria that should define the types of devices covered as SSTMs or self-service kiosks?
Rulemaking should cover kiosks whose use can extend beyond information retrieval such as interactive wayfinding kiosks with digital signage features that can display information and offer promotions1 as well as healthcare screening kiosks that collect vital health statistics through the kiosk2. Coverage should include touchscreen controls for facilities, such as those in destination elevators.3
Question 2. Are there other types of electronic devices providing unattended interaction that should be addressed by this rulemaking? If so, what are they?
We urge the Access Board to include in the rulemaking self-service devices considered semi- permanent. Tablets or mobile kiosks that are integrated into a larger service delivery/ordering network system where some fixed or built-in kiosks are available should nonetheless be covered even if some of the mobile interfaces are not fixed or built-in. Also, mobile tablets or kiosks that are locked down by a tether cable, stand, or clamp for unattended access should be considered fixed or built-in because they are the functional equivalent of a fixed or built-in kiosk during business hours.
Kiosk accessories, including but not limited to tools for gathering vital healthcare data such as self-service body mass index measures, scales, blood pressure monitors, and glucose measures should also be addressed by this rulemaking. Ancillary voice interface features, captioning or alternative channel feed for audible voice announcements or speaking interfaces on such kiosks with speakers, should also be included.
Question 3. Are there types of self-service electronic devices that should not be covered by this rulemaking? If so, why not?
No, we urge the Access Board to include all types of self-service electronic devices in this rulemaking.
Question 4. Should the Board’s rule require all fixed or built-in SSTMs and self- service kiosks in each location to be accessible? If not, why, and what should the number be? Are there some facilities or locations that should have a higher number of accessible devices than others?
We urge the Access Board to require all SSTMs and self-service kiosks under its oversight to meet Section 508 accessibility requirements. Marketplace technology exists today to make SSTMs and kiosks nonvisually accessible. Allowing government entities, retailers, health care settings, and others to make only a portion of its services accessible perpetuates a pattern of exclusion. Permitting partial access will ensure users experience inferior access by requiring them to additionally locate an accessible unit where all other customers can find and use any unit. Navigating multiple customer lines, large crowds or finding the location of an accessible unit where kiosks are spread throughout a large facility will make it more likely that the accessibility features are never found by the user with the disability. Timing is often significant as self service is increasingly tied with appointments, group event start times, departures and other temporal event- based services. Variance among software and hardware will also make it more likely that accessibility features are not maintained to the same degree as all other kiosks.
Partial quotas should be considered, if at all, only for remediating old stock and should increase over time until 100 percent of all inaccessible stock has been replaced. Corporations such as McDonald’s have demonstrated that a 100 percent phased-in accessibility plan is possible and effective.4
In its 2014 lawsuit against the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Federation of the Blind outlined many ways in which DOT’s 2013 extension of the Air Carrier Access Act requirements to airline websites and kiosks is harmful to travelers with disabilities. By requiring that only 25 percent of all airline kiosks to be accessible to blind individuals, DOT does not afford equal access. When the one accessible kiosk is unavailable, blind individuals are forced to wait and/or rely on sighted assistance to help with using any of the three remaining inaccessible kiosks, oftentimes compromising their personal and private information in the process, such as in the example from 2014 below:
Mr. Lewis [who is blind] is often forced to wait for a very long time at a kiosk to be assisted by an airline representative. Other times, when airline personnel have not been available to assist him, Mr. Lewis has resorted to asking strangers for help using airline kiosks. Sometimes this requires that he provide them with his credit card or reservation confirmation number. These experiences are degrading to Mr. Lewis who is otherwise an avid and independent traveler and who would perform the necessary transactions himself if the airlines’ kiosks were accessible.5
When having to rely on sighted assistance to use inaccessible kiosks, blind consumers are exposed to increased risk. They are frequently required to share personal and private information with a customer service associate, security guard, or sometimes with another customer offering their assistance because no staff person can be found. Often times this private information includes things such as the blind consumer providing their state identification, name, birthdate, and for visits to Social Security Administration field offices, it can include providing a social security number. These unattended kiosks are located in private and often crowded waiting rooms where anyone can hear a blind person verbally sharing their private information. The National Federation of the Blind included the following example in its 2017 lawsuit against the Social Security Administration:
Ms. Bonano [who is blind] visited her local SSA field office… on or about February 24, 2017 to report her wages and deliver her paystubs.
Ms. Bonano required assistance to use the VIPr kiosk, as the kiosk had no Braille or audio instructions, no headphone jack, and no keypad. Ms. Bonano had to ask the security guard to enter her information for her on the kiosk…
Ms. Bonano visits her local SSA office several times a year and wants to be able to check in independently, just like other visitors do.
Ms. Bonano feels very uncomfortable giving out her private information to a stranger in a public place and now dreads going to her local SSA office. She continues to visit the office, however, to submit her paystubs.
Ms. Bonano is capable of using touchscreen devices when they are designed accessibly. She regularly uses accessible touchscreen devices, such as an iPhone and iPad, with a Bluetooth headset. She also regularly uses accessible ATMs independently.
Ms. Bonano does not understand why an accessible VIPr kiosk has not been installed at her local SSA office when the software for such touchscreen technology exists today.6
Risks associated with using inaccessible SSTMs and kiosks extend beyond exposing protected personal information. Store attendants can and have taken advantage of assisting blind individuals at self-checkout kiosks, including by attempting to steal money during transactions:
On or about July 30, 2017, Ms. Morales had a Walmart employee assist her with using the self-service checkout kiosk at the Owings Mills Walmart. Ms. Morales handed the employee her debit card and the employee instructed her to enter her pin on the keypad attached to the credit card processing machine. Although Ms. Morales’s items totaled only around $80.00, the employee, unbeknownst to Ms.
Morales or Mr. Linwood, who accompanied her on this visit, had requested $40 in cash back. This additional transaction was never announced audibly to Ms. Morales or Mr. Linwood. The kiosk did announce that the user should take their money from the machine, which luckily tipped Ms. Morales and Mr. Linwood off that something was not right. Upon leaving the store, they asked a bystander to read the receipt and were told that Ms. Morales had been charged about $120, not the $80 she had expected. After learning that the employee had stolen $40 from her, Ms. Morales reentered the store and eventually, after calling the police, had the stolen money returned.7
Blind individuals who encounter inaccessible kiosks with a “request help” button do not receive equal access and can be forced to wait a significant amount of time for a staff person to assist, in part because retail, health care, and other entities remain critically understaffed.8
Blind individuals who seek sighted assistance with using inaccessible kiosks forgo privacy regarding their purchase or appointment and cannot purchase items such as medication or a pregnancy test with the same latitude of privacy afforded to sighted customers who can use any self-checkout kiosk option regardless of its nonvisual accessibility.
Question 5. The Board seeks comment on this planned approach for the proposed supplementary guidelines for SSTMs and self-service kiosks outlined in this ANPRM.
We agree that applying the technical requirements from the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for ATMs and fare machines to SSTMs and self-service kiosks will increase kiosks accessibility. We urge the Access Board to align the proposed rule with Revised 508 Standards, including section E207.29, which requires interface components, as well as the content of platforms and applications, to conform to Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements in WCAG 2.0. Furthermore, given the speed at which new technology is developed, and the age of the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines for ATMS and the Revised 508 Standards, we urge the Access Board to also incorporate into rulemaking those best practices for SSTM and kiosk accessibility currently being identified by established research entities such as the University of Maryland’s Trace Research and Development Center Kiosk Accessibility Research Project10. We further urge the Access Board to consider incorporating internationally recognized kiosk accessibility laws and standards11:
- European Union—EN 301 549
- Canada—“Accessible design for self-service interactive devices” CAN/BSA-B651.2 -07
- Ireland National Disability Authority kiosk guidelines
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the WCAG21CT working group note
Question 6. Should requirements for ATMs and fare machines in the current ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines be updated as part of this rulemaking to address additional features covered in the Revised 508 Standards and the DOT rule pertinent to the accessibility of ATMs and fare machines?
We urge that requirements for ATMs and fare machines in the current ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines be updated to address additional features covered in the Revised 508 Standards. This is particularly important where the industry is consolidating and unifying technical and customer interfaces and the categories among financial transactions, ticketing fares and other transactions now overlap.
Question 7. The Board seeks comment from users and manufacturers of self- service transaction machines and self-service kiosks on their experiences in using or designing accessible machines and the benefits and costs associated with the proposed requirements.
The National Federation of the Blind has a long history of advocating for accessible technology for the blind, so that blind individuals can integrate themselves fully into society, as society becomes more and more technology dependent. We have worked extensively with manufacturers and purchasers of SSTMs and self-service kiosks to steer technology toward full nonvisual accessibility.
When SSTMs and self-service kiosks are accessible to the blind, blind individuals can engage in aspects of daily life with the same convenience and privacy as their sighted neighbors. When kiosks are accessible, blind individuals can independently, privately, and conveniently check into an appointment, print their airline boarding tickets, renew their state identifications, order a meal at a restaurant, take their temperature and blood pressure, vote, pay for groceries, and more. As we described in our response to Question 4, when kiosks are not accessible, blind Americans are excluded from critical parts of Americans’ daily life. When forced to rely on a stranger to help them use an inaccessible kiosk, blind individuals endure stress, frustration, humiliation, and risk being late for an appointment, or flight, or train, as well as exposing personal and private information.
We thus urge the Access Board to adopt into its rulemaking all Section 508 Standards for hardware that transmits information or has a user interface. We further urge the Access board to incorporate into rulemaking that:
- Voice output rate of speech should be customizable.
- Headphone jacks will be located within a set distance, such as five inches, of a kiosk’s tactile keypad, for ease of locating.
- Multi-modality input, including touch screen and tactile keypad, be included for usability by individuals with varying degrees of familiarity with commercial touch screen controls.
Question 8. The Board seeks comments on the numbers of small entities that may be affected by this rulemaking and the potential economic impact to these entities; these include small businesses, small non-profits and governmental entities with a population of fewer than 50,000. The Board also seeks feedback on any regulatory alternatives that may minimize significant economic impacts on small entities.
We urge the Access Board to proceed with rulemaking and to not consider alternatives to regulation. If the Access Board determines that small businesses, small non-profits and small governmental entities will require processes that minimize significant economic impact, we recommend that Access Board implement a scoping standard such that they will not immediately be required to retrofit their existing kiosks for accessibility conformance, so long as designated staff are immediately available to provide assistance to individuals with disabilities during all times that the kiosks are available to individuals without disabilities and so long as these small businesses, small non-profits and small governmental entities purchase accessible kiosks that conform with the rulemaking, when they do purchase new kiosks. A timeline for remediation or consideration of the readily achievable standard may be appropriate for some small entities to retrofit older devices over a reasonable time. In general, the cost of implementing accessible SSTMs and self-service kiosks will scale with the size of the entity and smaller entities will require fewer kiosks; thus cost will also be less. We urge the Access Board, for the purpose of this rulemaking, to define small businesses, small non-profits and small governmental entities as those with less than fifteen employees. Care should be taken to ensure that corporate organization, governmental divisions, franchising or other contractual arrangements do not frustrate this definition and the spirit of any scoping standard.
Question 9. Should SSTM and self-service kiosks which accept credit and debit cards be required to accept contactless payment systems?
Any rule must ensure that all payment options available to non-disabled customers are equally available through accessible self-service interfaces. This general equality of payment options should be prioritized over specifics to ensure equality as new payment forms are being rapidly developed and integrated into personal devices and wearables that interact with SSTMs and self- service kiosk hardware.
In conclusion, we again thank the US Access Board for the opportunity to comment on the critical importance of accessibility requirements for various types of SSTMs and self-service kiosks for persons with disabilities. The National Federation of the Blind is available to provide clarification on our comments and is available as a resource during the rulemaking process. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 410-659-9314.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
1 See https://purple.ai/products/wayfinding/interactive-kiosks/, for example.
2 See https://www.pursuanthealth.com/, for example.
3 See https://www.ceelectronics.com/etouch, for example.
4 National Federation of the Blind, “McDonald’s and National Federation of the Blind Collaborate on Self-service Kiosks,” May 21, 2021, https://nfb.org/about-us/press-room/mcdonalds-and-national-federation-blind-collaborate-self-service-kiosks.
5 National Federation of the Blind v. US Department of Transportation, https://nfb.org/sites/nfb.org/files/2022- 11/NFB_v._U.S._DOT_%5B1%5D_1%2022%2014_Complaint_ACE.pdf.
6 Irving v. Berryhill, https://nfb.org/sites/nfb.org/files/2022-11/Irving_v._Berryhill_CASD_DKT_01-0_Complaint.pdf.
7 National Federation of the Blind v. Walmart, Inc., https://nfb.org/sites/nfb.org/files/files-pdf/NFB-et-al-v-Walmart-ACE.pdf.
8 See, for example, Abha Bhattarai, “Worker Shortages Are Fueling America’s Biggest Labor Crises,” The Washington Post, September 16, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/09/16/worker-shortage-strikes-economy/.
9 E207.2 WCAG Conformance.
10 See https://www.trace.umd.edu/projects-kiosk-guidelines/ and https://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/july-august- 2019/toward-unified-guidelines-for-kiosk-accessibility.
11 The list of internationally recognized kiosk accessibility laws and standards is extracted from J. Bern, Jonathan Lazar & Gregg Vanderhein, “Accessible Kiosks, Part of the Accessible Technology Webinar Series,” November 19, 2020, https://www.trace.umd.edu/projects-kiosk-guidelines/.