Earlier this year (2020) with funding from Employment and Social Development Canada, Carleton researchers Boris VukovicChantal Trudel, and Beth Robertson, conducted a study on the accessibility of Point-of-Sale (POS) systems and payment terminals.

POS systems and payment terminals are some of the technologies many people use daily, allowing for digital transactions in stores. However, as most people can confirm, these technologies are not always simple to use, leading to barriers for persons with disabilities. With a growing population of persons with disabilities, accessibility is more important than ever to ensure an inclusive society, and that means ensuring that everyday technologies are designed with accessibility in mind.

Through the lens of different disciplines including social science and ergonomics, the researchers conducted literature reviews and physical environmental scans to look at the physical and digital accessibility considerations that have been or need to be implemented in these systems, considering current and new technology, and various factors like usability and effectiveness.

One of the key findings of this study was the general lack of sufficient standards and guidelines, encompassing payment terminal software, hardware, and the overall payment process. This suggests a relation between a lack of standards and other findings made in the study, such as an increasing reliance on inaccessible technology such as touch screens, inherent software design issues such as visually cluttered interfaces, a trend for cashier-less systems that decreases interactions between the employee and the user, and poor height and placement of payment terminals.

A next step towards payment terminal accessibility includes developing standards under Accessibility Standards Canada, carefully considering users’ experiences to create a flexible environment that responds to a variety of disabilities.

For more information on this study, check out this Payment Terminals Research Snapshot.