Kiosks and ADA Compliance

Kiosks and ADA Compliance:

There is a lot of confusion concerning kiosk design and what constitutes ADA compliance. The confusion comes into play when people reference the design standards for ATM’s and apply them to self- service kiosks.

The Department of Justice published updated ADA design standards for accessible design in 2010. Section 707 of that standard has an extensive list of rules for ATM design. However, those standards do not apply to kiosks. There are design regulations for kiosks purchased by the federal government and they are usually referenced in quote requests. Section 707 makes this point clear.

Advisory 707 Automatic Teller Machines and Fare Machines.

Interactive transaction machines (ITMs), other than ATMs, are not covered by Section 707. However, for entities covered by the ADA, the Department of Justice regulations that implement the ADA provide additional guidance regarding the relationship between these requirements and elements that are not directly addressed by these requirements. Federal procurement law requires that ITMs purchased by the Federal government comply with standards issued by the Access Board under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. This law covers a variety of products, including computer hardware and software, websites, phone systems, fax machines, copiers, and similar technologies.

The fact that ATM standards don’t apply to kiosks doesn’t totally release our industry to ignore ADA concerns. Reasonable accommodations may be ambiguous, but nobody wants to be a part of defining it in court. Kiosks are deployed to serve a purpose. Smart design and good business practice should drive us to make kiosks accessible to as many people as practical. Using the reach guidelines from the ATM standards is a good starting point when designing a kiosk and software system.


Let us first review reach standards for ATM’s.

Reach standards give both a maximum and minimum range where interaction with an ATM must take place. This standard is set with forward wheel chair access to the machine in mind.

308.2.1 Unobstructed. Where a forward reach is unobstructed, the high forward reach shall be 48 inches (1220 mm) maximum and the low forward reach shall be 15 inches (380 mm) minimum above the finish floor or ground.

This standard is good as long as you don’t have to reach forward more than 20 inches to touch the machine. There is a sliding scale that reduces the “15 to 48” window if you have an obstruction. Typically kiosks are flat in the front so any reach obstruction is caused by a keyboard or a tilted screen. The vast majority of those obstructions are far less than 20”, so let’s concentrate on the “15 to 48” window.

The low reach limit seldom comes into play with kiosks. Most components have user interaction with the top of the component (like cash insertion into a validator) which makes compliance to the 15” standard easy to design around.

The most common issue with compliance is with the 48” maximum height. Kiosks usually have touchscreens that are much larger than found on ATM’s. The inherent size increase of these large touchscreens raise the height of kiosk as compared to their ATM brethren. These large touchscreens are difficult to interact with for a standing person if you drop the screen to a low height.

So how do we make a kiosk reach accessible to wheelchair access and make it practical for standing interaction? There are different ways to attack this issue.

Use a keyboard or ADA compliant access device positioned below the screen to allow seated users to interact with the software.

Use software interaction “buttons” in your program that is positioned at the bottom of the touchscreen. The seated user can look at a screen that is higher than the 48” reach standard, but they only need to interact with the lowest part of the screen which would be positioned at a compliant level.

Tilt the screen back and lower the kiosk. A pedestal style kiosk can significantly lower the height of the kiosk to meet a lowered total height. At the same time, the pedestal tilt allows for a standing user to interact with the kiosk without straining or contorting your body. People who are over 6 foot tall and have interacted with some poorly designed ATM’s are well aware of what that entails.

Our AD kiosk as an example of a model designed with both reach compliance and ease of use for standing interaction.

We know that ATM design standards don’t apply to kiosks, but doesn’t it make sense to go beyond “what is required” and attempt to reach the widest possible audience with your kiosk deployment. Please contact Bruin Kiosk and let us help you achieve those goals.