The Perspective 
Monday, 31 March 2008
As the editor of Self-Service World, one of the many things that my colleague, Patrick Avery, does on a daily basis is comb the Web for stories that involve the self-service industry. Not too long ago, he found this gem, reported by the Isle of Man Newspapers:

                  British airline to charge those who don’t use kiosk


                  FlyBe has announced it may charge passengers in the future for using its check-in desks at Ronaldsway Airport . The airline plans to install self-service kiosks to speed up the process of checking in for flights. A spokesman for FlyBe said that passengers who wanted to continue to use the traditional check-in desk rather than the self-service kiosks could be charged for doing so in the future.

The story quotes an anonymous source who works for the airline as saying: “We have long been on record as saying that those passengers who want the personal service of a check-in desk or prefer to use one out of habit will be costing other passengers a lot of money.”
In essence:  Use self-service — or else.
At the risk of sounding like one of my high school English teachers (who on more than one occasion threatened to “staple my tongue to the Belvedere,” a local Louisville, Ky., landmark), I think there are two things we can glean from this story.
The first is the monumental significance of what the airline is proposing. A year ago — maybe two — the airline industry had representatives standing next to check-in kiosks, urging weary travelers to try the new-fangled self-service devices for the first time. Travelers were skeptical. What was up with these new devices? How did they work? Were they reliable? If I’m a passenger with reservations on a non-stop flight to Boise, is this kiosk going to print out a boarding pass for the red-eye to Tel Aviv?
And what about security? How could we be sure these self-service devices weren’t going to let the guy with two feet of firecracker wick trailing out of his Nikes get on the nearest 747?
Time has since allayed these uncertainties. Not only are the kiosks quick and easy to use, but they also cut down on check-in queues and, according to Air Canada, save on labor costs. What’s more, some custom-use self-service kiosks can in some ways actually help to improve airport security by providing a scanned record of passengers’ passports and other travel documents. And since even malevolent travelers with suspicious shoes still have to face live security screeners, there aren’t too many worries that the kiosks are going to be a free pass for anyone who walks in the door.
The bottom line is that the kiosks are a success. And it is because they are a success that FlyBe airlines is thinking about charging its customers who try to avoid the kiosks. It used to be that the onus was on the airline to prove that the kiosks were beneficial. Now it’s on the traveler to prove that they’re not. That says something about technology adoption.
The second thing I noticed about the article is the glaring use of the qualifier “may.” It’s not that FlyBe is going to start charging fans of live service ... but it "may."
Again, at the risk of sounding like my aforementioned high-school English teacher (who, after reviewing our test grades on another occasion, threatened to throw herself off the Second Street Bridge — another local landmark) that qualifier makes a world of difference.
Congress may balance the budget next year. We may have a manned mission to Mars by 2020 (although this story makes the prospect seem less likely). There may be another Star Wars movie. At this moment, Bigfoot may be at your home, sitting in your Lazy-Boy eating your nachos.
So what does “may” tell us here?
FlyBe is absolutely, positively, 100-percent certain that charging the kiosk-averse is the right thing to do ... but even FlyBe has its doubts. That’s why the “may” is there. (Given the hesitation, one wonders why the airline chose to announce its intentions at all. I mean, why give away the fact that you may or may not do something? Perhaps it was a test.)
It’s an interesting crossroads for the airline — and airlines everywhere, I suppose.
FlyBe will be seen either as a pioneer or that dog in the Aesop fable that dropped the bone in the creek while trying to steal from its own reflection.
So how will consumers see it? Economists will say that depends on which side of the demand curve the proposal falls on. I’ve racked my brain trying to come up with an example of a similar crossroads in another industry, and I keep coming back to the Internet. After online ordering took off, merchants started dishing out significant discounts to customers who chose to buy online rather than in the physical store. Maybe this is like that.
Looking at FlyBe’s proposal, one can see pros and cons.
The Pros: Adoption will increase; costs will decrease. FlyBe could potentially save more in labor costs. Since fewer customers will visit the check-in desk, FlyBe will need fewer attendants. On the consumer side, travelers will probably be able to move through the check-in process more quickly. Additionally, people who may have been afraid of the technology in the past will now have an impetus to check it out, and discover just how user-friendly it can be.
The Cons: FlyBe runs the risk of backlash. Purists who insist on speaking to a human being at the check-in desk might rebel and seek out a different airline.
Either way, however, FlyBe is considering a policy that demonstrates just how far self-service has come. Are self-service check-in kiosks ready to become mandatory devices? Are consumers ready for it? Are the airlines ready for it? Is FlyBe’s proposal good for the industry?

What do you think? Send your comments (anonymously if you like) to and I’ll consider posting them in my next column.
Posted by: Travis K. Kircher AT 10:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 24 March 2008
After being an untried and largely unknown medium for a long time, digital signage successfully has claimed a prominent place in the array of new media offerings and is well on its way to becoming a standard part of media plans.

Digital billboards are driving the rapid expansion of outdoor advertising, and shopper marketing has been boosted by implementations of digital signage networks in retail. Both outdoor/out-of-home advertising and shopper marketing are now rivaling the Internet as the fastest growing advertising medium.

While screens are the most visible component of digital signage, the critical part of any network is the software that powers it.

Digital signage is the first and the only medium that effectively can reach the elusive consumers while they are out of home, and especially while they are shopping. The ability to customize each message to audiences at any location and even in any area within a location is another unique value that it brings to marketers. However, these requirements, combined with the need to constantly expand, pose a great challenge to operators in terms of network management.

One of the obstacles to faster growth has been the lack of software platforms that could accommodate all of the functionality without being cost-prohibitive to network owners.

Several hundred digital signage software providers claim their products can meet all of the requirements, which confuses the buyers and delays the RFP process. Only a few dozen applications actually are deployed to operate networks.

Since those who comprise the digital signage industry still are in the process of searching for standards and efficient business models, even the most evolved software products are not perfect yet, but a few providers lead the way and have a sizable market penetration. Growing networks will help settle the dust and only big software players will remain. Who will they be and which distribution model will they use?

Software Distribution Models

The current enterprise software applications for digital signage can be grouped as follows: applications that are built in-house, software-in-a-box (“shrink-wrapped”) and 3rd-party-hosted solutions.

In early deployments, many network operators tended to be a ‘one-stop shop’, doing everything from IT to content creation, media distribution and ad sales. It did not take long for them to realize that being in the software or network maintenance business distracted their resources from the core objectives of making money on their media space. Some companies, however, already had made large investments in technology prior to defining a viable business model and the type of software that can fill their needs.

Today, digital signage operators are increasingly gravitating toward becoming ‘lean and mean’ media companies rather than being a technology provider. A lot of legacy in-house software products now are being replaced by third-party applications and many look to outsource most of their IT responsibilities, similar to the way TV broadcast networks do it.

With ‘build your own’ solutions largely on their way out, the competition among third-party products now is between ‘shrink-wrapped’ (aka ‘on-premises’) software and hosted solutions (aka ASP, On-Demand and SaaS).

In the End, It’s All About the Total Cost of Ownership

Here are a few numbers from research data showing the drawbacks of the traditional software models:

The Shortcomings of Legacy, On-Premise Apps

They have Deployment Challenges:
• 31.1% of software projects cancelled before completed.
• 52.7% of projects cost nearly 190% of original estimates.
• 30-50% of software costs spent on integration.

There are Operational Costs:
• Maintenance & management costs >10x original license fee.
• Escalating hardware & staff support costs.
• Over provisioning and under-utilization of software licenses.

Economic/Budgetary Pressures:
• Need to reduce IT costs and increase business benefits.
(Source: THINKstrategies, Inc. ©2008)

All of the above-listed issues essentially boil down to the costs that are getting out of control. They are characteristic of all industries where On-Premise software is used, including digital signage network management. If we extrapolate the current digital signage trends into the near future, we’ll see that managing networks the old way is likely to get even more expensive:

a) Networks will become bigger, more complex and more targeted.

b) The complexity of managing the media space inventory, targeting and scheduling content, multiversioning and a broad variety of campaign scenarios will require richer functionality, higher stability, reliability and security.

c) Competition will force network operations to focus more on making money on the media space and less on maintaining the network.

d) Network growth will put increasing pressure on in-house support and maintenance (for users of on-premise software).

e) Integration with third parties will require more in-house resources (for users of on-premise software).

f) Network operations roles will be more diverse and more narrowly defined (role-specific tasks); the difference between media management and technical jobs will be more pronounced.

g) Fast pace of change in digital signage as a medium and development of standards and metrics will require frequent updates.

The concept of SaaS has been gaining ground lately as the model that best meets the cost-cutting and efficiency demands of expanding digital signage networks.

What Is SaaS?

The term Software as a Service sprang into existence around 2004 to describe the latest generation of earlier models such as ASP or Application Service Provider, and On Demand software. According to Wikipedia, SaaS is “a low-cost way for businesses to obtain the same benefits of commercially licensed, internally operated software without the associated complexity and high initial cost. … SaaS applications are generally priced on a per-user basis, sometimes with a relatively small minimum number of users, and often with additional fees for extra bandwidth and storage. SaaS revenue streams to the vendor are therefore lower initially than traditional software license fees, but are also recurring, and therefore viewed as more predictable, much like maintenance fees for licensed software.”

The SaaS model first originated outside of the digital signage field and has proven beyond doubt that it is the most efficient way of asset management in areas like accounting, CRM, sales operations management and many others.

SaaS is devoid of the problems associated with ‘on-premises’ and even the earlier ‘hosted’ models such as ASP and On-Demand. According to Christopher W. Cabrera, a noted industry expert and CEO of Xactly Corp., “SaaS offers customers an undisputable value and time to market advantage over traditional enterprise models, including no hardware, no maintenance fees, minimal implementation fees and, most importantly, no fees for software upgrades. This means new features are available to customers instantaneously, as soon as they are live, saving customers from high upgrade costs while ensuring they’ll never trail behind on older releases of software.

SaaS is breathing new life into technologies that were too expensive for the masses in a traditional enterprise model. The fast-growing Sales Performance Management market is living proof.”

SaaS appears to closely match the nature of digital signage business.

Inspired by a Wired magazine formula, Expired→Tired→Wired, we can draw an illustration of how evolution of software models applies to the changing business models in digital signage:

Evolution in Digital Signage Projects:


• Pilot Phase

• All Content Channels Identical

• Build Software Application


• Testing Phase

• Multiple Channels, Same Content

• On Premise Application 


• Deployment Phase

• Dynamic Schedules, Day Parts, Localization

• SaaS

Now let’s see how a SaaS solution can resolve the typical challenges of digital signage networks:

• Networks don’t have to invest into additional IT infrastructure; the software company already had done that for them.

• Networks do not need to manage a server, content distribution or a database, which incur high hardware, personnel and bandwidth costs.

• Software as a Service approach significantly reduces deployment costs, maintenance overhead and time to market.

• Operators can focus on their core business and not worry about technical aspects of a network.

• Networks are always using the latest technology and business methods, as software upgrades are included in the contract at no extra charge.

• The SaaS model breaks up an upfront software licensing cost into low monthly fees.

According to analyst Jeff Kaplan, even IT departments today see Services as the Solution: “In the past, the IT department was the biggest barrier to managed services and SaaS adoption. Many IT professionals were afraid these on-demand solutions would eliminate their jobs. Now, a growing proportion of IT people see managed services and SaaS as a way to out-task mundane work or overcome complex application/technology deployment and maintenance responsibilities. As they learn to take advantage of these on-demand solutions, IT departments will finally be able to put their daily firefights aside and focus on addressing the strategic needs of their business users.”

The other two of the previous concerns causing IT departments’ resistance to SaaS  security and reliability  are no longer valid either:

• Web systems are reliable enough: Despite sporadic outages and slow-downs, most people are willing to use the public Internet, the HTTP and the TCP/IP stack to deliver business functions to end users. (Wikipedia)

• Security is sufficiently well trusted and transparent: With the broad adoption of SSL, organizations have a way of reaching their applications without the complexity and burden of end-user configurations or VPNs.(Wikipedia)

All of the above is corroborative evidence that quality SaaS platforms are capable of satisfying operational requirements of rapidly evolving digital signage networks, while offering a significantly lower cost of ownership than other software models.

Brian Dusho is the executive vice president and chief strategy officer of BroadSign International. David Womeldorf is the executive vice president of marketing and products for BroadSign International.

Posted by: Brian Dusho and David Womeldorf AT 11:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
You've probably seen a kiosk that has an error message on its screen or even a kiosk that has a blank screen. A non-functioning kiosk is worse than no kiosk at all. It undermines the consumer's trust in a reliable source of content or their trust in the capabilities of the provider.
Sure, we all pretty much understand that computers are not perfect and will need some maintenance from time to time, and that not every company has world-class IT support teams. But you can implement systems that will alert your team when something goes awry, or reboots itself in an attempt to clear the problem. Sadly, many companies that implement kiosks don't want to consider these possibilities, or they are the first thing in the budget that gets axed when trying to make the numbers work. Ongoing maintenance and support are important considerations. On-site warranty from hardware manufacturers, combined with good software infrastructure and a plan, are the basics of maximizing uptime.
But one thing that is perhaps even worse than a non-functioning kiosk is a kiosk that is well designed, has good signage, has a good purpose and then fails to deliver on its promise. I recently saw an example of this at Cincinnati's airport. As you enter the baggage claim area there are two large stations of three kiosks each that promise the visitor hotel information and courtesy phones. When you approach the screen, you see three links: Hotel Courtesy Phone, Visitor Information and Kiosk/Airport advertising information. Obviously, this was put together by whoever has a lock on airport advertising, otherwise why would you give that last topic such importance for a visitor kiosk? When you click on “Hotel Courtesy Phone” you get a page with a bunch of logos of local hotels and basic information on them. This is helpful content for the traveler. If you click a button, it promises to call that hotel for you so you can book a room.
But the phone dialing did not work.
So I tried the Visitor Information in hopes of finding out what to do around town, where to eat, shop and perhaps some quick local history. Nope. The page loaded with a simple but terrible message: "Content coming soon."
I can tell you that these kiosks had already been deployed for months, and still there was no content.
I was disappointed. I was let down by the content provider, not the hardware or operating system. It was simply a lazy provider of content that did not live up to their promise to the consumer.
I wanted to voice my dissatisfaction so I clicked the third link to learn about airport advertising and find the company responsible for the content. But guess what, I found the same "Content coming soon" message on this screen. So even if I wanted to add my hotel to the list, or find out how to help this content provider, I could not. I had to shake my head and let out a slight chuckle that can only come from someone in the business. I should have sat nearby to see how many other visitors would come away from the kiosks with a positive experience. I'm sure I'd have been sitting for many hours.
I was able to find the name of the company responsible for the kiosks and I attempted to look up its Web site on my Blackberry browser. The site was empty too.
However, I just checked it again from my PC at work and it forwards to another site which is also light in actual content, and overly complex in design. They will show rate cards for some items, but not the kiosks. They do digital signage and promotions within the airport. It appears that this is their first airport market.
The kiosk hardware is nice enough, these use a good brand of kiosk enclosures, with touchscreens and phone handsets. I even liked how the power cords were nicely covered where they run into the wall and plugged into a power source in a room behind the wall. Nicely done! So I can find no fault in the hardware installation, no fault in the operating system and the screen design was even decent. But the most basic element, the content, was limited or missing. The opportunity was there, and they missed it. How many people tried to get some value from these kiosks during their first months of deployment and were also disappointed? Those visitors will likely never walk up to those kiosks again. You get one chance to make a first impression and you had better not mess it up. A returning guest at your kiosk will cut you a break when you have a temporary hardware/software failure, but that's because they already like the product you deliver, which is the content. A first-time guest will not give you any slack and will not likely return.
Editor's note:  This essay was originally published on Tim Burke's blog in an entry dated Monday, Nov. 5, 2007. Since then, Burke says he was contacted by the content provider, who gave him the following statement:
"We are not offended at all. In fact, we appreciated the input. 
The kiosks are intended to be a fun and simple communication device for passengers to reach hotels, and not as much an informative device. But you make some valid points. We shouldn't have advertised the fact that we have visitor information and not have any. Buttons that don't work are worse than no buttons at all. This is something we would have never known without your input."
Burke praised the content provider's response and noted that these are common issues that deployers are frequently plagued with. Issues notwithstanding, he added that it's important for deployers to make sure that content is prepared before launching the deployment.
Tim Burke is on the owner of Electronic Art. His blog can be viewed here.
Posted by: Tim Burke AT 10:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 10 March 2008

Companies often ask me two important questions about digital signage: What is the future of the technology and how can you prepare for it? My answer to them is simple. The future of digital signage is a networked, interactive high-definition video experience.  The best way to prepare for it is by creating a robust, video-ready network that is managed centrally and is scalable across the organization.

Digital signage technology soon will move beyond static messaging and be driven by dynamic, visually striking video.  This surge in video communications will provide companies with an exciting opportunity to rethink the way they reach customers and employees, but more importantly, it will require companies to prepare their networks for this new, video-based way of communicating. To remain relevant and effective, video communications will need to be updated frequently, efficiently, and affordably—and therefore, will be best controlled directly by a user on the network.

Almost all aspects of digital signage can be managed remotely right from the desktop via a comprehensive, video-ready network. Organizations, then, easily can create, manage, publish, and access high-quality digital media for compelling communications to employees, customers, partners, and other key audiences. Through rapid message creation, they will be able to respond quickly and with flexibility to new business opportunities, challenges, and circumstances. This capability can boost employee productivity and efficiency, both for employees creating content and for those viewing it.

Just as importantly, a video-ready network allows for the full integration of digital media capabilities with a wide variety of established and emerging applications. I’ve listed three of many key applications below, all of which have tremendous potential to improve how organizations connect and share information with employees, customers, and business partners.

Desktop video. Many organizations keep their workforce informed by communicating messages via a company intranet to individuals at their desks. When integrated with digital signage, desktop video adds a new dimension to digital media communications. Employees are able to receive the most up-to-date information, delivered in a thorough and compelling way, right to their desktops—and this same messaging can also be delivered to conference rooms, break rooms, or public locations.

Video surveillance. Organizations can leverage the same video-ready network to integrate digital signage and video surveillance capabilities. Through this integration, companies can easily gather critical video analytic data, such as the audience size in front of a digital sign, where the audience’s eyes are focused on the sign, and the average dwell time in front of a sign. In addition, companies can learn key demographic information about viewers, including their genders and approximate ages. This type of data can greatly assist businesses in their sales and marketing efforts.

Telepresence. Telepresence is an innovative technology that combines high-quality audio and high-definition video to create an immersive virtual experience for conducting true virtual meetings.  The large displays used for telepresence meetings also behave as digital signs when not in use for meetings. Therefore, a business easily can use the same displays to switch back and forth between meeting and signage applications, as the need requires.

Indeed, many companies are eager to begin or grow their deployments of video-based digital signage. Therefore, they often want to know what they can do today to prepare as this market continues to accelerate.  I suggest that organizations take the following steps right away:

  • Assess the potential impact of digital media on their existing network infrastructure. Before making an implementation decision, organizations should determine if their networks are video-ready and capable of supporting intelligent content distribution. This analysis may lead organizations to address or upgrade such network elements as quality of service, bandwidth, and hardware.

  • Decide which business processes will need to be changed or optimized so that digital media can be implemented effectively. Digital media can greatly improve day-to-day operations, message distribution, and media management in many different ways through many diverse locations. Therefore, organizations will have to decide how signage will be deployed, managed, and consumed.

    Get a sense of the type of resources that will be needed to deploy and operate digital media. Many organizations will decide to contract with a trusted partner to plan and implement the solution. Others will utilize in-house IT staff, which may require additional training. In either case, it’s best to begin these resource planning processes as early as possible.

Digital signage is a rapidly evolving technology that will continue to grow and play a greater role for businesses worldwide.  Digital media – created, managed, and distributed right from the network – will be at the center of this evolution, as it enables a wide variety of innovative applications. Organizations, therefore, should begin to assess today how network-based digital signage can help them achieve their business and communication goals and, in the process, determine if their networks are optimized for this exciting future.

Thomas Wyatt is the general manager of digital media systems for Cisco Systems Inc.

Posted by: Thomas Wyatt AT 11:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 04 March 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: Derek Fretheim AT 10:35 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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