Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Information Technology
Information Technology
Design of Keyboard for Improved Accessibility to Electronics
WARF: P08092US03

Inventors: Gregg Vanderheiden, David Kelso, J. Bern Jordan

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a compact keyboard designed for use with the EZ Access™ family of products.
Modern 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 (see WARF reference number P95259US). WARF reference number P08093US describes the system and method for providing a keyboard to facilitate improved accessibility. This invention describes the physical design of such a keyboard.
The Invention
UW-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. The first figure below shows the intended design of the EZ Access buttons. These buttons can be arranged in different configurations to meet the needs of the machine or electronic device being modified.
  • Cross-disability access to public information and transaction machines
Key Benefits
  • 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
Additional Information
For current licensing status, please contact Emily Bauer at [javascript protected email address] or 608-960-9842
The top view of the keyboard.
The front elevational view of the keyboard (A), the rear elevational view (B), a first side elevational view (C) and a second side elevational view (D).