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For November 2011:

Making keypads more accessible.

Last year (2010) tactile keypads were made lawe at every check-out location in California with a flat screen point of sale device. The new law was actually passed in 2005, but retailers were given four years to bring their stores into compliance.

Tactile Keypads are needed so that customers with visual impairments can confidentially and privately enter their PIN when using a debit or other PIN-based card. Can you imagine turning to the person next to, a stranger, and asking the to input your security code? Neither could the California legislature and so the law was easy enough to pass.

That is just one example so how can companies make all their keypads more accessible to those who are blind and partially sighted? It is really not too difficult and the answer has indeed been around for many a year.

If you were to pay attention to such things as telephone keypads and calculators as an example, you will notice that in almost all cases, there is a small raised bump on the #5 key. In some cases, there may also be a raised bump on the #0 key. These bumps enable a blind person to quickly orient themselves to the keypad. Raised symbols and clear colour contrast on function keys (such as enter and cancel) are also important.

Of course, there are other tricks to the trade. Some keypads may have small cuts to certain keys that enable a blind person to find their way around quickly. Some keypads have keys that are a bit larger than normal and if you expand this topic, you will find that some keyboards also employ other types of strategies.

I recently came across a keyboard that has a sunken circle to indicate the Windows key. Some keyboards also have spaces between groups of keys to help orientation. Example; after the f1, f2, f3, and f4 keys on an IBM keyboard, there is a space. Then the pattern is repeated after the f8 key, and again after the f12 key. On this same keyboard, the f and j keys have raised cuts on their bottom edges.

This is how it is done. This is how one can make their keypad more user friendly to blind and partially sighted users.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a terrific day.
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