Is a Keyboard Required for ADA compliance

By | March 28, 2019

The short answer is No.

The longer answer is:  “most probably not, but it depends on the content being interacted with”.

The requirement is that operable parts be discernable by touch without activation.  That requirement is problematic for touch screens, so kiosks typically need to provide alternative controls for users that are blind.

Those alternative controls might be a keypad (as is the case with ATMs and fare vending machines).

With kiosks (like the new airport ticketing machines) the most popular approach is to add the Trace EZ Access keypad.

However, there is a difficulty if the interaction with the kiosk ever requires the user to enter alphabetic characters, since an on-screen keyboard is useless for someone who is blind.

If the alphabetic key entry is not very many characters, then the Trace EZ Access keypad is just barely sufficient.  The user has to scroll through 26 letters (or more, if a field is alphanumeric).

On the other hand, the kiosk might be more general purpose, and interaction with an on-screen keyboard is a core feature of using the kiosk.  An example is a kiosk at Motor Vehicles where the user has to enter name, address, and other demographics.  Another example is a kiosk that provides for web browsing.

To be ADA compliant, those sort of kiosks require a physical keyboard, with the keys arranged qwerty style, and with tactile indicators for finding the F and J keys on the home row.

To be sure, given your particular situation, it is recommended you have someone like TFA conduct a Gap Analysis. Also, ADA and accessibility isn’t just the kiosk, it can be the facilities and where the kiosk is situated.  Architectural ADA has a higher incidence of liability overall.