Georgia Tech Research Institute


Follow the links below for details and potential solutions for each issue.

Physical access

Physical access to kiosks refers to the ability of users (particularly users in wheelchairs) to position themselves in a location from which they can interact with the machine. Physical access includes sufficient clear space in front of the machine and a clear path to the machine.

Reach and visibility

Kiosks have a number of components, such as displays, keypads, and output slots, that users must be able to see and/or physically interact with.


Labels include text and graphics used to identify components of a kiosk, and any instructional text located on the machine.


Most kiosks provide output (instructions, status information, error messages, etc.) primarily through a visual display (often an LCD screen on newer machines). The display is often a touchscreen, and doubles as the primary user interface with the device.

Touchscreen interfaces

Touchscreens are sometimes used as the primary user interface on kiosks. A touchscreen interface allows the designer to accommodate a wide variety of controls and functions in a relatively small area on the control panel, and allows users to interact directly with on-screen display elements.

Pointing devices

Pointing devices are input devices that allow users to input spatial information using physical motions and gestures. The inputs may be used to directly select on-screen controls, or to control a free-moving cursor to make selections and perform more complex tasks such as highlighting and dragging. Pointing devices that may be found on kiosks include mice, track balls, touch pads, styluses, and others.

Control panel buttons

Control panel buttons are mechanically operated push buttons that are used to interact with the device.

Control panel keypads

Control panel keypads include both numeric keypads and alphanumeric keyboards. In addition to the issues listed for buttons, the following issues apply specifically to keypads.


A good interface must provide feedback to users. The user interprets feedback in order to determine whether input was received, whether the desired action was executed, and whether the desired consequences were achieved. Feedback is generally provided visually or audibly. Alerts and error messages are special notifications that indicate to the user when certain actions must be taken. An example of an alert is "Insert memory card" when using a photo kiosk. An example of an error message is "Invalid entry" when unexpected data is entered on a keypad.

Indicator lights

Indicator lights on kiosks are lights that illuminate to convey information (such as system status) or to attract attention.

Audio output

Many kiosks provide some form of audio output, ranging from simple beeps to speech output. Audio output may be provided through speakers or through a headphone jack. Audio output can be used to greatly improve the accessibility of a kiosk, particularly for users with visual impairments.

Headphone jacks

A headphone jack on a kiosk allows users to connect a pair of personal headphones to the device in order to hear audio output from the device more clearly and more privately.

Barcode readers

Some kiosks, such as product price check kiosks, contain barcode readers, which are used to scan Universal Product Codes (UPCs). Barcode readers may be handheld, wall-mounted, or integrated into a larger device.

Card readers

Various types of card readers are in use with kiosks. Some kiosks, such as photo printing kiosks, provide slots for users to insert memory cards. Other kiosks, such as library checkout kiosks, use a card reader to read data from a library card or other type of card for identification purposes. The card reader may be integrated into the kiosk, with only a slot for swiping or inserting cards visible to the user, or it may be a separate device with its own controls and user interface that interacts with the kiosk.

Signature area

Some kiosks may have an electronic signature area. Users use a stylus to sign within the signature area, and may also have to use the stylus for other functions, such as pressing an on-screen "OK" button to accept the signature.

Output areas

Kiosks often provide one or more tangible items of output to users. Outputs may include paper print-outs, such as gift registry lists, tickets, and boarding passes, and other products that result from transactions with the machine (for example, ice and a beverage from a fountain drink machine). The outputs are dispensed into one or more output areas, which vary widely in design.

Writing and temporary storage areas

Some kiosks provide a flat, clear space that users can use for temporary storage of personal items (purses or wallets, paperwork, etc.) while using the machine, or as a writing or work surface (for writing notes, etc.).

Supplies area

Some transactions with kiosks may require the use of supplies such as forms, notepads, or in the case of fountain drink dispensing machines, lids and straws. When this is the case, the kiosks often have a "supplies area" in which necessary supplies are stored.

Trash slot

Some kiosk transactions will produce trash, such as receipts, coupons, or straw wrappers. It may be desirable to provide a receptacle for the disposal of trash for the convenience of users.