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Companies doing business in California, particularly retailers, should be aware of a recent revision to the California Financial Code that sets out new accessibility requirements for point-of-sale devices.  A point-of-sale device includes any device used by a customer for the purchase of a good or service with a debit, credit or cash card where a personal identification number (PIN) is required. 

The requirements are designed to make point-of-sale devices usable by persons with vision impairments who may not be able to read information on a flat screen point of sale device and who would otherwise have to provide their PIN to a store employee.

Pursuant to California Financial Code § 13082:

  • on or before January 1, 2010, any existing point-of-sale system . . . that includes a video touch screen or any other nontactile keypad shall also be equipped with a tactually discernable keypad or other technology described in this section.
  • at locations equipped with two or less point-of-sale machines, only one point-of-sale machine shall be required to be equipped with a tactually discernible keypad or other technology on or before January 1, 2010 . . . .

A point of sale device, for purposes Section 13082, “includes any device used by a customer for the purchase of a good or service where a personal identification number (PIN) is required,” but does not include (1) an automated teller machine as defined in Section 13020(c) or (2) a point-of-sale device that is equipped to, or exclusively services, motor fuel dispensers.  Cal. Fin. Code § 13082(d). 

In order to comply with Section 13082, point of sale devices must be equipped with the following:

  • a tactually discernible numerical keypad similar to a telephone keypad containing a raised dot with a dot base diameter between 1.5 millimeters and 1.6 millimeters and a height between 0.6 millimeters and 0.9 millimeters on the number 5 key that enables a visually impaired person to enter his or her own personal identification number or any other personal information necessary to process the transaction in a manner that provides the opportunity for the same degree of privacy input and output available to all individuals; or
  • other technology, such as a radio frequency identification device, fingerprint biometrics, or some other mechanism that enables a visually impaired person to access the video touch screen device with his or her personal identifier and to process his or her transaction in a manner that provides the opportunity for the same degree of privacy input and output available to all individuals.

Companies doing business in California have a short notice period in which to implement changes to their point-of-sale devices.  Failure to comply with this Section by the January 1, 2010 deadline may subject a company to potential liabilities.  In order to further minimize potential liability, affected companies are also encouraged to train employees to provide appropriate interaction with visually impaired customers regarding the use of the new tactile devices.