Touchscreen interfaces

Touch screen interfaces can achieve sophisticated results but may have drawbacks for some building users.

Touchscreen interfaces should not be used on their own but in conjunction with other alternative but equivalent controls and displays.

Touchscreen interfaces are being increasingly installed in buildings - from lifts, ticketing machines and cooking appliances to internal environmental controls and showers. Many people, especially those who are blind or have low vison, find using touchscreen interfaces difficult, if not impossible.

As a stand-alone device, touchscreens are not only difficult for a person who is blind or has low vision to input a request, but if the registration of that input is also visual they have no way of knowing their request has been received.

To remain independent, building users who find touchscreen interfaces difficult or unusable will need a non-screen control or display unit to use. This should allow people who are blind or have low vision to understand and use the unit by touch alone.

Touchscreen interfaces such as ATMs should also have auditory outputs such as headphone jack points that can be listened to privately if involving personal details.

For people using the touchscreen interface, the display screen should be shielded from light sources, both natural and artificial. Building users should also be able to personalise the display (colour, magnification) and see and operate the screen both from a standing and seated position.

Whether or not alternative controls or displays are possible, a physical button to summon assistance should be provided.

Design considerations

  • Ensure touchscreen interfaces are always supplemented by a corresponding equivalent and equal manual method of input that is easy to use with a tactile input and capable of the same results.
  • Ensure there are display options available.
  • Ensure an auditory output is available where appropriate.
  • Ensure that a physical assistance button is provided and easy to find.

Building Code requirement

Building Code clause D2 Mechanical installations for access:

D2.3.5 Mechanical installations on accessible routes shall: (a) where the passenger conveyor is manually controlled, provide: (i) controls which are easily identifiable and easy to use (ii) adequate notification that the passenger conveyor has registered a summoning call.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: