Georgia Tech Research Institute
Accessibility Assistant

Accessibility Assistant


Control Panel Keypads (3 of 3)

Issue: The common methods of cursor advancement for numeric keypad text entry cause problems for some users.

Some kiosks may require users to enter limited amounts of text using the numeric keypad. Some numeric keypad text entry schemes automatically advance the cursor to the next location after a time-out period, and others require the user to manually advance the cursor. Some schemes adopt a semi-automatic approach, where the cursor must be manually advanced to enter consecutive characters using the same number key, but will automatically advance when a different number key is pressed. Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages. Manually advancing the cursor requires the user to make additional keystrokes, which may be difficult for users with upper mobility impairments. The user may be required to move his or her hand off of the keypad to advance the cursor, and to subsequently relocate and reorient to the keypad, which may be difficult for users who are blind or who have low vision. Conversely, automatically advancing the cursor may cause problems for users who are unable to press the keys fast enough to select the desired letter before the timeout occurs; this may include users who are blind, users with low vision, users with cognitive impairments, or users with upper mobility impairments.

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

Potential Solutions:
  • Provide an accessibility mode that extends timeouts. If the automatic or semi-automatic method is used, allowing users to set the timeout period to a duration appropriate for their personal needs will alleviate timeout problems for those users.

  • Provide voice output when characters are entered and confirmed. Having the device voice the current character as the user cycles through the available characters on a key would help users with visual impairments select the desired character. Having the device voice each character as it is confirmed (either manually or by a time-out), in a voice distinct from that used to voice the selection of characters, would also help users know when a character has been confirmed and know when the cursor has advanced to the next location.

  • Avoid numeric keypad text entry if possible. Because of the problems that numeric keypad text entry can cause for users, consider an interface design that does not require direct text input, or consider providing a full keyboard (a hardware keyboard or an accessible on-screen alternative) if text input cannot be avoided.

Applicable Guidelines:
Section 508 - 1194.23(k)(3), 1194.25(b), 1194.25(c), 1194.31(a), 1194.31(f)
Section 255 - 1193.41(g)
HFDS - 9.1.1, 9.1.6, 9.1.16