Georgia Tech Research Institute

Card Readers (2 of 7)

Issue: Determining the proper orientation for inserting or swiping a card may be difficult.

An insertion-style card reader on a kiosk is shown.  No indication of the proper orientation for inserting a card is provided.

Most card readers require users to insert or swipe cards in a specific orientation (e.g., face-up, or with the magnetic stripe up and to the left). Determining the proper orientation may be difficult for users with visual impairments (who may not be able to see orientation instructions) and users with cognitive impairments (who may not be able to understand orientation instructions).

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

Potential Solutions:
  • Provide a clear graphic on the card reader illustrating the proper card orientation. Provide a simple graphic located adjacent to the card reader that shows the proper card illustration, using only one or two prominent features of the card (such as the magnetic stripe or the alignment arrow on a memory card) as landmarks. If possible, avoid perspective drawings that may require users to perform mental geometry to work out the proper card orientation.

  • An insertion-style  card reader on a kiosk is shown.  A label showing the magnetic stripe on the back of a credit card indicates the proper orientation for inserting a card.
  • Provide a card reader that accepts multiple card orientations. If a card reader can successfully read a card in more than one orientation (for example, stripe up and stripe down), the likelihood of a successful insertion increases.

  • Provide redundant, non-visual instructions describing the proper card orientation. A voice message describing the proper card orientation (e.g., "insert card with the magnetic stripe facing down and to the left") will be helpful to users with visual impairments.

  • Provide support for contactless card reading. Contactless cards (which use barcodes or RFID technology to store data) eliminate the need for the user to determine the proper card orientation.

Applicable Guidelines:
ADA-ABA - 707.5
Section 508 - 1194.31(a), 1194.31(b)