May 1, 2014, 4:37 PM

Making in-store mobile checkout accessible for all

As more retailers test using mobile devices to speed up store payment, Revel Systems introduces a bundle to make its system accessible for the blind and visually impaired.

Lead Photo

Revel Systems accessible mobile point-of-sale system

Mobile point-of-sale systems allow the in-store checkout process to be freed from the confines of the register. A small but growing number of retailers use tablets, smartphones and even iPods to bring the checkout process to the consumer anywhere in the store to avoid long lines at the checkout counter.

But one consumer group has been left behind. For the blind and visually impaired, mobile devices, with their lack of physical keys or buttons, prevent those consumers from entering personal information, such as credit card numbers and PIN codes, in a confidential manner. For example, when making a debit purchase, a customer has to enter her 4-digit personal identification number. However, because a blind customer cannot discern between the keys on the touchscreen number pad, she would have to divulge her PIN to a store associate.

Consumers have sued companies in the past whose web sites did not meet accessibility requirements, and a lawsuit filed recently against retail stores shows retailers using mobile POS systems might be at risk for similar lawsuits. A man in Florida filed class action lawsuits against several Top 500 e-retailers—Apple Inc. (No. 2); Guess? Inc. (No. 307); Fossil Inc. (No. 205); Anthropologie, owned by Urban Outfitters Inc. (No. 48); Disney Store USA LLC (No. 84); LuLuLemon Athletica Inc. (No. 112); and bebe stores Inc. (No. 410)—claiming their standard POS systems do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Keyboards that would make these kinds of systems accessible are available. But Revel Systems, a POS system provider, announced today the release of an accessibility bundle that makes its iPad POS system accessible for the blind and visually impaired.

"As part of our mission, we believe business owners have the responsibility to serve all populations, including those with visual impairments,” says Chris Ciabarra, chief technology officer of Revel Systems. “It has been a priority to create a version of our point of sale that would allow those with visual impairments to fully access our iPad POS.”

Revel Systems’ bundle includes the POS software, the Revel Accessibility App, a Bluetooth keyboard and an overlay for that keyboard with textured keys. The app also includes verbal prompts to guide users through the system. On top of the cost for the POS software—which averages $3,300, Ciabarra says—the keyboard with the overlay costs $140.

The bundle also opens up the Revel POS system back-end for employees. Blind and visually impaired employees can access the reporting tools, the payment gateway and employee management options, including scheduling and payroll.

Revel began work on this new system in July 2013 after hearing from client Laughter Café in Oklahoma City, which wanted a mobile checkout system that was accessible for the blind and visually impaired, Ciabarra says. Laughter Café bought one of the first units and has been using the system for a few weeks.

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