University of Maryland

EZ Access Implementations

EZ and EZ Access

Research which began in 1998 investigating the barriers to accessing self-service kiosks and touchscreens by people with a wide variety of abilities led to the development of technology including both techniques and hardware, which are currently patented and known as EZ and EZ Access.

The technology has now been implemented by kiosk manufacturers and is currently serving the public in thousands of locations, including at 25,000 United States Postal Service kiosks (see WISC-TV Channel 3 news story).  EZ implementations have also taken place at parks, museums, and memorials including the the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. National World War II Memorial, as well as in commercial locations such as the Mall of America.

This page provides information about some of the ways EZ Access has been implemented worldwide, as well as where research and development of the technology is heading in the future.

EZ Access featured in first accessible airport paging system

The first fully accessible paging and information system was deployed at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). The airport is Arizona’s largest and busiest, serving over 100,000 passengers daily. The groundbreaking system was developed by by ARINC Incorporated, a leader in transportation communications and systems engineering, implementing EZ Access technology.

EZ and IBM team up to provide accessible travel self-service kiosk

Ticket kiosks which have integrated EZ Access, like the one pictured on this page, are used at over 8,000 locations like train stations, airports, and hotel chains. These kiosks, designed and built by IBM, incorporate several other features working together with EZ Access to provide accessible options to travelers with a wide variety of abilities. Some of the other features include headset jacks with built-in volume adjustment, IBM Embedded ViaVoice® text-to-speech output, layered audio user assistance and system event sound effects, on-screen visual focus indicator that highlights the currently selected on-screen content/control, and textual equivalents for all graphics.

More information about IBM’s Self-Service travel kiosks is available via IBM’s website

EZ and voting systems

A EZ Access voting prototype was introduced by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at FOSE 2000. the largest and most comprehensive event focusing on government technology – and demonstrated in front of an audience by Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden.

A transcript of the presentation is available here

Door entry systems

As a result of a what began as a student project, EZ was implemented by the Hudson, Wisconsin-based Viking Electronics company leading to the nation’s first cross-disability door entry system. The AES-2000 door entry system was first implemented by the City of San Francisco in an attempt to address existing accessibility barriers for users with a wide variety of abilities including people who are aging, people with disabilities, and people with low literacy skills. This system includes a help button to provide audible and visual instruction of button functions and visual and voice output of the tenant directory. These features allow people with visual impairments to access the door entry system without assistance. People with speech and hearing disabilities can communicate through the systems TTY/TDD text telephone, and visitors with physical disabilities can use the door entry system by hand or with a mouthstick.

Read the press release of this collaboration on the UW-Madison College of Engineering website

Future directions

The Trace Center is using improvements in touch screen technology to develop new types of EZ interfaces that do not require physical touchpads to operate. Another innovation under development is a portable EZ keypad which would be a pluggable option for a wide variety of users. Combining more usable interfaces and the Cloud is another way in which the Trace Center hopes to provide the ability for more people to use Internet to overcome barriers and improve opportunities in both physical as well as technological environments.

For more information on this type of development, please see our work on Raising the Floor and GPII.