Far too often it seems that when a new piece of technology comes out it
doesn't work for people with disabilities. I thought I'd share a recent
experience with something that seems to be done right, in this case some
new ticket machines being put in by Tri-Met, the regional transit
authority in the Portland, Oregon area. I can't speak for all
disabilities but I feel that these machines are very usable for people who
are blind. Tri-Met sells everything from daily bus passes of differing
amounts based on the areas of the city you want to visit to monthly passes
for the system from the new ticket machines.
The face of the machine has a small set of braille instructions near the
upper left corner just below a large button and a raised image of a bell I
believe. The instructions tell you to press the button and then listen
and follow the audio trail to complete your transaction. I have to say
that this audio trail was one of the more unique and good things about the
machine. It was a series of raised arrows to guide your hand to all the
locations you needed to find on the machine. Each location was
labeled in braille, with enlarged raised print and in general easy to
After you start the machine talking, you follow the audio trail down a
short distance and then over to the right as you hear the options you can
select. You press the button of your choice and the machine announces
what you've pressed. When it comes time to insert actual money into the
machine, you first hear the amount you need to insert and then as you drop
in your coins or bills, you hear how much you still need to insert.
There's a full set of braille information about the various rates and such
on the side of the machine.
A sighted friend told me that things appeared to be printed in large
letters and with a great degree of contrast on the unit. I believe, but
am not certain, that the machine would also be very usable by people who
use wheelchairs. I'm just not certain on the exact dimensions.
At this point the new ticket machines are not in place at all ticket
locations. They appear to be largely in the downtown area where Tri-Met
has been doing a lot of work. I believe they will be put in all the new
light rail stations being constructed. I don't know about replacement of
all the older machines in the area.
Unfortunately I couldn't find info on who made the machines. I have a
call into the people at Tri-Met so hopefully they'll let me know. To
learn more about Tri-Met you can visit their web site at:
--- Kelly Ford firstname.lastname@example.org See my home page at http://www.teleport.com/~kford/index.html
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