How To Ensure That Your POS Terminal Is ADA Compliant
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that places of public accommodation, including retail operations, provide equal access to all persons regardless of disability. This means that everyone who comes in to your establishment should be able to move about the space unimpeded. Signage should be appropriate for people who are blind (signs in Braille) or who have other visual impairments (readable fonts, font size, color, etc.). Counters, credit card processing machines, and payment or ordering kiosks must be accessible to persons in wheelchairs and useable by people with little or no ability to use their hands.
Small businesses may worry that bringing their premises into compliance with the ADA will be cost prohibitive. Businesses in older buildings are required to make alterations that are “readily achievable” to accommodate disabled patrons.
“Readily achievable” modifications are those that can be made without too much expense or difficulty. Examples include installing grab bars in and widening toilet stalls, replacing door hardware to make handles easier to grasp, adding curb cuts, replacing elevator buttons with buttons that have raised numbers and Braille, widening aisles, and rearranging furniture.
Perhaps the most important area to make ADA compliant is the checkout counter. If a disabled patron can’t easily complete a purchase in your store or restaurant, they’re not likely to come back, and your business could become the subject of negative online reviews. Even worse, lawsuits could arise. That’s why it is so important that you ensure your POS terminal is ADA compliant.
Put Yourself in Their Wheelchair
You must be able to reach a self-pay kiosk from a forward-facing or parallel sitting position. This means that the top of the screen should be no higher than 48 inches, and the bottom no lower than 15 inches from the floor.
Checkout counters must have aisles that are at least 36 inches wide and counters that are no more than 38 inches high. The accessible aisle(s) should have a sign with the international symbol for accessibility prominently displayed above the aisle.
But getting to the screen or POS credit card processing machine in the first place is half the battle. Aisles and lanes leading to the credit card processing machine should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, mobility scooters, or walkers.
The credit card processing machine itself should be accessible, which may mean mounting it on an extendable arm, or using a reader that a staff member can extend toward a customer to make it easier for them to insert their card. Ingenico credit card machine stands come in wall-mounted and counter-mounted versions in both compact and large size versions, to hold most credit card machines at an accessible point for customers with disabilities.
Accommodations for Visual Impairments
ADA guidelines provide a framework for ensuring that POS systems are accessible to the blind or persons with other visual impairments. Look for POS systems with screen designs and color and contrast ratios that make them easy to see; they should also be set up with brightness levels, fonts, and character spacing that accommodate persons with impaired vision.
Determine if your POS system responds to screen readers or refreshable Braille displays.
The guidelines set forth in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act describe the standards that federal agencies are expected to meet in information and communication technology (ICT) to accommodate persons with disabilities. These guidelines are useful for businesses to identify the types of accommodations POS systems should include to serve patrons of all abilities.
Limited or No Use of Hands
How would your POS system work for someone who can’t use their hands? Does it respond to verbal commands or other assistive technology? Are the buttons or the screen responsive to a tool that may be attached to a headband or compatible with a mouse that a person with limited hand motion could use? Consider how someone with impaired hand and finger movement would use your POS system.
Not All Disabilities Are Visible
When a person arrives in a wheelchair, you immediately know they will require accommodation within your business. But many cognitive and perceptual disabilities are invisible. People with autism, sensory integration disorders, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorders may become agitated or confused by complex sensory challenges.
Many exiting POS systems are hard enough for neurotypical people to figure out. Imagine the difficulty a person with language, reading, or cognitive difference would have with a POS system that requires rapid decision-making, in a line filled with impatient customers waiting for their turn, with bright lighting and music playing in the background.
Does your POS system have extra or unnecessary steps? All customers would appreciate not having to complete a survey, bypassing an advertisement, or whatever other extra steps are interposed between them and completing their purchase. All customers will appreciate a sleek POS system that is as user-friendly as possible.
Regardless of the POS system you use, accommodations for persons with disabilities are only as good as the training for staff who may be called upon to provide assistance. When a customer has difficulty completing a purchase, staff should know what to do, without compromising the customer’s dignity or privacy.
For example, no one should be required to hand over their card for scanning and then to state their PIN or social security number out loud to get assistance using a payment processing machine. Blind customers have been ripped off by unscrupulous staff who pocketed cash after surreptitiously requesting “cash back” when the customer didn’t ask for it. Fortunately, in a case that resulted in a lawsuit, the customer was alerted to the fraud because the self-checkout machine reminded them to “take their cash.”
Staff also should be trained to allow the customer to provide guidance to them about what kind of help they need, if they are able. No one should be required to describe why they’re in a wheelchair or why they have trouble reading numbers or responding to verbal instructions.
Some patrons will be able to write down their needs in a note, while others may need compassionate cueing about how to complete their transaction. The most important thing is that staff put the person’s dignity, privacy, and immediate needs first, and refrain from engaging in superfluous comments or questions that don’t advance completion of the transaction.
Small businesses can provide many accommodations that are “readily achievable” to ensure that their disabled customers receive equal treatment and access to their products and services without compromising their privacy or dignity.