University of Maryland


Automated Postal Kiosks Include EZ Access

November 30th, 2004

2,500 post offices around the U.S. are unveiling new self-service kiosks that have incorporated many of the Trace Center’s EZ® Access techniques for accessibility.

Deployed in Wisconsin just in time for the busy holiday season, these Automated Postal Centers enable customers – including many who have disabilities – to mail packages (including many with special services) and buy stamps using a credit card.

The APC systems were developed for the U.S. Postal Service by IBM, and have implemented many of the EZ Access features developed at the Trace Center. These features, including audio prompts and a special keypad, make it easier for customers with blindness or low vision, physical limitations, and cognitive impairments to use the system without assistance. The APC was given the 2004 Kiosk Award as “Best Retail Application,” showing that accessible designs are often better designs.

“We are delighted that the postal service chose our EZ Access technology for their new Automated Postal Centers, and commend them for their commitment to improving accessibility of self-service systems,” said Gregg Vanderheiden, Director of the Trace Center. “This is a great step toward more accessibility of these types of systems for people of all ages and abilities.”

EZ Access is a set of interface enhancements that can be implemented in the design of almost any electronic product. These enhancements include simple interactive techniques and hardware components that can make products usable by more people, including those with disabilities. EZ Access was developed over the past six years as an outgrowth of the Trace Center’s ongoing research and development on how to design standard information systems and products so that they are accessible for people with disabilities.