Georgia Tech Research Institute
Accessibility Assistant

Accessibility Assistant


Barcode Readers (3 of 4)

Issue: Grasping and operating a handheld barcode reader may be difficult for some users.

A user's hand is shown grasping a handheld barcode reader and using it to scan an item.  The reader has no handle; it is merely a rounded, palm-sized unit.

Some barcode readers may be difficult for users with upper mobility impairments to grasp and use. The texture, weight, shape, and size of the reader can all contribute to user difficulties. Furthermore, if the forces required to activate a barcode reader are high, some users may have problems using the reader.

Populations Impacted: Users with upper mobility impairments.

Potential Solutions:
  • Ensure that the barcode reader is covered with a non-slip material. The area of the reader that users grasp should be covered with a textured, non-slip (rubbery) material that facilitates grasping. Avoid the use of slippery materials such as hard, glossy plastic for areas that users grasp.

  • Provide a lightweight, well-balanced barcode reader. A barcode reader that is lightweight and well-balanced (i.e., not excessively top-heavy) will be easier to use and less likely to be dropped.

  • Provide a barcode reader with a "pistol grip" design. The "pistol grip" design provides a better surface for grasping than a design without any sort of handle. The grip should be moderately sized to facilitate use by a variety of hand sizes. The grip should not be excessively contoured, and should be designed for use with either hand.

  • A user's hand is shown grasping a handheld barcode reader and using it to scan an item.  The reader has a 'pistol grip' handle that fits in the user's hand.
  • Ensure that the force required to operate the barcode reader is not excessive. If the user must operate a trigger or other control to scan an item with the barcode reader, ensure that the force required to activate the control does not exceed 5 pounds (22.2 N).

Applicable Guidelines:
ADA-ABA - 309.4
Section 508 - 1194.23(k)(2), 1194.25(c), 1194.31(f)
HFDS -,,,
ISO/IEC 71 - 8.18.1