EU funded project aims to make self-service terminals more accessible for all
Date: Mon, 09/12/2011 - 10:21
Is aiming to make self-service terminals, such as public transport ticket vending machines or public information kiosks and cash dispensers, more accessible for the one in six Europeans who have a disability or the 87 million Europeans aged 65 and over
According to an EU study, only 38% of bank cash machines (automated teller machines or ATMs) across the EU provide voice capabilities to customers with disabilities, far behind the US (61%) and Canada (nearly all ATMs). The European Commission is contributing €3.41 million, half of the overall budget, to the "APSIS4All" project which aims to design and validate personalised interfaces, including contactless cards, to help overcome existing accessibility barriers. Trials will begin in cash dispensers in Barcelona, Spain from September 2011 and at ticket vending machines in Paderborn, Germany from January 2012, and will run for three years.
Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda said: "Public self-service terminals can be found everywhere, and their numbers keep increasing. Yet, many present a challenge for persons with disability or for some elderly persons, denying them the service."
The APSIS4All project sets out to design and validate, in real-life settings, innovative, personalised interfaces that overcome existing accessibility barriers. In a first phase, the project will collect information from 3000 users who will be testing different machines in order to adapt interfaces according to their needs and preferences. Tests will be carried out at 65 ATMS of la Caixa bank in Barcelona, Spain from 1st September 2011 and at 24 ticket vending machines operated by Höft & Wessel AG at Paderborn in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany from 1st January 2012.
The goal of this project is to propose a standardised framework that could foster further take up of e-accessibility features by the ATM industry and service providers. This could ultimately help make public digital terminals (PDTs) more accessible to a wide range of users, from people who are not familiar with the technology, people with reading difficulties, tourists who do not master the local language or even people who may have forgotten their reading glasses. APSI4All will focus on multi-modal interaction and cutting edge technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) or short range wireless communication. For example, tests could involve a programmed card that contains the user's preferences. When the user brings the card close to the ATM, the machine instantly adapts to the user's needs (perhaps changing the size of the font or choice of language). Other interfaces could include a mobile phone with accessibility features that enables a customer to purchase a ticket online and pay at the machine issuing the ticket using a secure code sent to their phone.
There are hundreds of thousands of PDTs in the EU, including public transport ticket vending machines and at least 425,000 ATMS. A number of technological solutions exist on the market to help facilitate their use, such as keypads placed within reach of wheelchair users, Braille labels on the buttons or voice output via a speaker for visually impaired users. However, these essential functions are often simply not available or not activated because the ways of activating them are too complex. As the European Commission's European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 asserts, "accessibility is a precondition for participation in society and in the economy".