WARF: P08093US

Combined Keyboard and System for Improved Accessibility to Electronics


Gregg Vanderheiden, J. Bern Jordan, David Kelso

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method and system of providing cross-disability access to public information and transaction machines with typical keyboard functionality.
OVERVIEWModern public information and transaction machines such as kiosks and automated teller machines (ATMs) frequently employ a touch screen in conjunction with a computer to provide multimedia capabilities intended to help members of the public obtain information or conduct transactions. Despite the advantage of touch screens in such applications, they present a barrier to many people with disabilities. Those with impaired vision may be unable to distinguish the features and virtual “buttons” on the screen. Those unfamiliar with the language or with difficulties reading may not be able to analyze the information on-screen and those with hearing impairments may not be able to analyze audio information. Those with limited mobility may be unable to reach or operate the touch screen surface.

Incorporating accessibility into touch screen systems typically has involved adding buttons, keyboards or mechanical controls to the systems. In many designs, these additions may be limited by a lack of space, expense or other constraints. The EZ Access™ set of design guidelines, techniques and hardware components has been developed previously to provide cross-disability access to people who use information technologies.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have developed an extension to the EZ Access set of design guidelines, techniques and hardware components. Compact EZ Access keys and functionality can be incorporated into existing or new public information and transaction machines to provide both standard and special keyboard behaviors needed by people with different disabilities. The system incorporates the EZ UP and DOWN, EZ ACTION, EZ BACK and NEXT and EZ HELP buttons of the original EZ Access system into a typical keyboard to improve accessibility of the system and add convenience to users without disabilities. These buttons enhance the functionality of the original arrow and enter keys of a keyboard to allow easy navigation by page, screen or element, while maintaining typical functionalities such as moving the text cursor and typing carriage returns.
  • Cross-disability access to public information and transaction machines
  • Incorporates EZ Access keys into a typical keyboard
  • Improves accessibility to public information machines to those with disabilities
  • Enhances convenience to users of public information machines without disabilities
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at or 608-960-9842.

A preferred arrangement of the EZ Access keys. A preferred arrangement of the EZ Access keys.

Another preferred arrangement of the EZ Access keys. Another preferred arrangement of the EZ Access keys.

The WARF Advantage

Since its founding in 1925 as the patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF has been working with business and industry to transform university research into products that benefit society. WARF intellectual property managers and licensing staff members are leaders in the field of university-based technology transfer. They are familiar with the intricacies of patenting, have worked with researchers in relevant disciplines, understand industries and markets, and have negotiated innovative licensing strategies to meet the individual needs of business clients.