Georgia Tech Research Institute
Accessibility Assistant

Accessibility Assistant


Touchscreen Interfaces: Issue 1 of 3

Issue: Touchscreen controls are not tactilely differentiable.

Users without vision and some users with low vision navigate by touch, moving their hands over the control panel to determine where various controls are located. Touchscreens are inaccessible to users who navigate by touch, because controls displayed on touchscreens are not tactilely discernable - they are merely graphical controls displayed on a screen, and cannot be identified by touch.

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

Potential Solutions:
  • Provide an alternate interface, such as a secondary control panel or a voice display. Devices that use touchscreens, which are inaccessible to users without vision, may be augmented with an alternative user interface. Touchscreen functionality could be replicated in a fixed or attached auxiliary control panel using control elements with functionality, position, and status that are easily discernible by touch. A voice display could be integrated with the control panel, so that feedback is presented in an auditory fashion as well. For example, using a numeric keypad as an input device, the user could navigate through options that are voiced, without having to rely on vision to perceive the screen contents. The voice display approach could be combined with voice recognition for hands-free device operation.

  • Provide hardware controls for basic functions. If possible, provide redundant, tactilely differentiable hardware controls for basic functions. This will allow users to perform those basic functions without having to interact with the touchscreen. For example, a digital photo ordering kiosk might offer hardware controls for increasing or decreasing the number of copies to print, and a "print photo" control; these controls would allow users to input necessary data and complete a simple transaction without using the touchscreen.

Applicable Guidelines:
Section 508 - 1194.25(c), 1194.31(a)
Section 255 - 1193.41(a)(3)(e)