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NFB Conference preferred KeyBar

As the Trace Research & Development Center unveiled a new keypad format for their EZ-Access® kiosk navigation solution, blind and sight impaired kiosk users were invited to compare available and approved EZ-Access keypad options. The verdict was overwhelmingly in favor of the smaller horizontal format of the new EZ-Access KeyBar. Jointly developed by Trace and the manufacturer Storm-Interface, the new KeyBar was conceived for use in contemporary flat-screen and touch-screen kiosks that use the Trace Center's EZ Access cross-disability solution package.  

KeyBar features a highly tactile keypad that makes navigation and selection of menu options possible for blind users. On typical kiosks, options to select products and services are usually presented in an exclusively visual format (on a display screen). This is inaccessible for blind users. The EZ-Access solution provides cross-disability audio descriptions of the information and options as presented on the screen. The tactile keypad is then used to navigate backwards and forwards or up and down through those kiosk pages and options. It is also used to select and confirm or cancel the chosen option. The EZ Access techniques include the required audio descriptions for visual or text based information which is often referred to as audio tagging.

Trace used a Metro-train ticket purchasing application to demonstrate and compare keypad options. More than 95% of those who made the comparison expressed a clear preference for the KeyBar format. Many stated that the linear, horizontal layout was more logical and made audio references to a specific key’s position and function easier to understand. Internal illumination and color coding of the keys made location of the keypad and individual keys much easier for those with partial vision. However the distinctive shape and tactile symbols of the EZ-Access keytops have been retained as the primary means of identifying a key’s specific function.

The new KeyBar also addresses the practical challenges faced by kiosk manufacturers. The horizontal format makes it easier to install the device below an existing display screen. It also mounts easily to the outer surface of an enclosure or casing without significant compromise to the contemporary, minimalist style of many kiosks. Connection to the host kiosk is via a single USB cable, ensuring a simple plug and play interface. When not in use, the EZ Access keys are all a subdued, non-lit, soft white color on a silver and black bar to blend with any design.  When a headset is connected, they illuminate and change color to make them easier to use for people with low vision.  The product is expected to roll out early in 2017.

For more information, please contact Storm Interface at sales@storm-interface.com

Background Information:
Storm Interface is an award winning, UK based, manufacturer of Human Interface Devices.
The Storm range of secured, sealed and toughened data entry devices are field proven and laboratory tested. They are constructed to survive in the most demanding applications and environments.  Since 1986, Storm’s design, technology and manufacturing quality have established Storm products as the industry standard for durability and reliability.

The Trace Research & Development Center
The Trace R&D Center was formed in 1971 to address the communication needs of people who are nonspeaking and have severe disabilities. The Center was an early leader and innovator in the field that came to be known as "augmentative communication" (a term first coined by the Trace Center).

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