Georgia Tech Research Institute
 
Accessibility Assistant

Accessibility Assistant

Issues

Control Panel Buttons (1 of 11)

Issue: Buttons mounted flush with the panel are difficult for users without vision or with low vision to detect.

A numeric keypad and other control panel buttons are shown.  The buttons are flat and are not raised above the control panel surface.

Users with vision impairments may navigate by touch, by moving their hands over the control panel in order to determine where controls are located. Buttons that are mounted flush with the surface of the control panel are difficult for users without vision and users with low vision to feel when they move their hands over the control panel. Furthermore, users without vision typically depend on behaviors such as counting to find a specific control, and this is problematic when there is insufficient tactile differentiation of the controls.

Populations Impacted: Users who are blind; users with low vision.

Potential Solutions:
  • Ensure that buttons are sufficiently raised above the control panel so they are tactilely discernable by users without vision. Buttons should be raised at least 1/32" above the panel so that users can locate the buttons tactilely. This will improve the accessibility of the buttons to users with visual impairments.

  • A numeric keypad and other control panel buttons are shown.  The buttons are raised above the control panel surface to enhance tactile discernability.
  • Include Braille or raised large text on buttons that are flat to help users without vision determine exactly what each button is. For devices where it is, for some reason, not possible to sufficiently raise the buttons on the control panel, consider providing Braille labels on the buttons so that users without vision will still have access to the buttons. Providing large, raised lettering would have the additional benefit of assisting those with low vision in identifying the functionality of the buttons.

  • Make the texture of the buttons different from that of the control panel to make the buttons easier to distinguish tactilely. Providing a rougher texture on buttons if the control panel surface is smooth or providing a more rubbery texture on the buttons if the control panel is made of a hard material can help users without vision distinguish buttons from the control panel surface more easily.

Combining all of these approaches (providing sufficiently raised buttons with accompanying Braille labels or large raised lettering and a distinctive texture) would increase button accessibility significantly.

Applicable Guidelines:
ADA-ABA - 707.6.1, 707.6.3.2
Section 508 - 1194.23(k)(1), 1194.25(c), 1194.31(a)
Section 255 - 1193.43(a)(2)(b), 1193.43(a)(2)(c)
HFDS - 6.4.1.7, 6.4.1.18, 6.4.1.19, 6.4.1.20, 6 4.1.23, 6.4.1.28, 9.6.10