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Outside the home: self-service terminals

Technologies in everyday life outside the home such as self-service terminals; ATMs; ticket machines; self-scanning supermarket checkouts.
SPEAKER: Accessible design for everyday living - outside the home. For everyday technology encountered outside the home, we decided to focus on self-service terminals. Self-service terminals or SSTs is one of the several names given to describe the ever increasing number of machines that offer us services via an automated kiosk for a variety of purposes. For example, there are cash machines, which are meant for personal banking, which usually means dispensing money. There are also travel scenarios, for example, tickets from ticket vending machines and also check-in machines at airports. There are also self-service checkouts in supermarkets where customers themselves can scan barcodes on items and pay for their purchases while using the machine. In particular, those supermarket self-service checkouts provoke very strong reactions.
They are hated by some but loved by others. Whatever the feelings, though, most people can recount at least one unpleasant experience with one of these machines. And some people actively avoid them for this reason if they have the choice.
Because SSTs are everywhere, one constant is that all these self-services are on the increase. This is in part fueled by our expectation of services being available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. And we welcome the freedom and the opportunities that they bring in most cases. However, a consequence of this is less traditional face to face services being offered by people. Indeed, in some cases, only machines are available, for instance, at train stations on weekends and evenings. For some people, however, SSTs are inaccessible, difficult to understand and use.
There are many examples for this. In some cases, the ATM is simply badly situated such as the ATM in this image. In this case, it is inaccessible because stairs have been placed in front of it, and it is inaccessible to people with mobility issues. Or in other cases, it is because the location does not allow easy interaction because of surrounding environment conditions such as in the pictured case, where constant bright sunlight obscures the LCD screen. In other cases, the problems lie not with the location or the environment but with the terminal itself. Touch screens and small fiddly buttons are very common complaints.
And finally, some people find it hard to interact with the machines because they do not understand what is required of them. For example, sometimes the SSTs use difficult language or unfamiliar terminology which leads to ambiguity and confusion. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find that those responsible for the service sometimes stick extra information onto the machines themselves.
Watch the video to find out more about the many types of Self Service Terminals (SSTs) we encounter and the barriers they can cause.
We have concentrated on Self Service Terminals (SSTs) because of the ever increasing use of these self-service automated kiosks.
Have you found SSTs that make you want to avoid them or that have caused you problems? What problems do you think that Anna and Tom might face?

© This video is created by The University of the Aegean and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.
© This text is a derivative of a work created by The University of the Aegean, and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence adapted and used by the University of Southampton. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.
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