Georgia Tech Research Institute

Control Panels - Screens: Issue 1 of 5

Issue: Wheelchair users may have difficulty reading LCD screens.

User in wheelchair is unable to see the LCD screen because of the height and angle at which it is mounted.

Control panel displays are often positioned at a height and angle that is optimized for standing users. The display may be positioned too high for seated users to see. The viewing angle may also be a problem for seated users. LCD screens have a limited viewing angle; that is, the angle at which a user can clearly view the display is limited. Therefore, a seated user, whose normal line of sight is at an extreme angle with respect to the front of the display, may have difficulty seeing the display clearly.

Populations Impacted: Users operating a digital multi-function copier from a wheelchair or other personal mobility device.

Potential Solutions:
  • Provide a tiltable control panel. If the control panel is designed so that it can be easily tilted and locked into multiple positions, the needs of both seated and standing users can be accommodated.

  • Control panel is tilted so that a user in a wheelchair can see it.
  • Use a detachable control panel. If the control panel is designed so that it can be detached from the device, the detached panel can be operated from a seated user's lap, or on a wheelchair-accessible work surface.

  • Control panel detatches so that a user in a wheelchair can use it in a comfortable position.
  • Provide an alternate interface, such as a secondary control panel, a voice display, or software designed for the remote configuration of the device. Devices that contain LCD displays that are inaccessible (because of their height or angle) to those in a wheelchair may be augmented with an alternative user interface. Three forms of alternative user interfaces are possible. First, control panel functionality could be replicated in a fixed or attached auxiliary control panel that can be accessed from a seated position. Second, a voice display could be integrated with the control panel, so that visual feedback is presented in an auditory fashion as well. For example, using the numeric keypad as an input device, the user could navigate through configuration menus that are voiced, without having to rely on vision to perceive the menus. The voice display approach could be combined with voice recognition for hands-free control panel operation. Finally, in a networked environment, the control panel functionality could be replicated in a software application that is compatible with standard assistive technology applications. Therefore, a wheelchair user could configure the digital multi-function copier at his or her workstation or at a workstation located conveniently close to the device.

  • Copier accepts commands wirelessly from an alternate interface.
  • Consider offering a detachable document feeder assembly that can be positioned on a wheelchair accessible work surface. A document feeder assembly that is detachable from the main printer assembly could be positioned in such a way as to be usable by both standing or seated users.

  • Detatchable document feeder positioned on a wheelchair accessible table.
  • Use a cathode ray tube (CRT) screen rather than an LCD screen, or use an LCD panel with extended viewing angles. In the past, CRT displays offered higher contrast and wider viewing angles than LCD displays. In recent years, advances in LCD display technology have closed the gap between LCDs and CRTs. If an LCD display is used, ensure that the display provides adequate contrast, and that its horizontal and vertical viewing angles accommodate both seated and standing users.

  • Include backlighting on LCD displays. Adding a backlight to an LCD display makes the display more readable by users with low vision and users viewing the display from a wheelchair.

  • Include a way to manually adjust the contrast of the display. Many displays do not have a contrast adjustment, or provide contrast adjustment controls on the display itself. However, if a user in a seated position is unable to see the display because of insufficient contrast, he or she will be unable to use controls on the display to adjust the contrast. If there is a manual control, such as a dial on the side of the display, users can adjust the contrast without having to read the display. If the range of contrast adjustment and the viewing angle of the display are sufficient, seated users may be able to find a setting that will allow them to use the display.

  • Separate hardware slider is used to adjust the contrast of the display.
Applicable Section 508 Standards: 1194.25(j)(2), 1194.25(j)(3), 1194.31(f)