Accessibility of Photocopiers

Photocopiers have changed drastically in the last ten years, now being able to perform many more tasks than just duplicating hard copies of documents. These improvements in technology mean that many photocopiers use a built in hard drive so function in a different way to some older photocopiers. Although impressive, these changes sometimes cause a few problems with accessibility for disabled users, especially as small touch screens have replaced the old large, easily recognisable buttons.

Photocopiers can perform many more functions and so need a screen to display all the options but this change meant that some people found them hard to access. However, a few photocopier manufacturers have now come up with ways to improve the accessibility of photocopiers.

- Voice guidance kits are now available for visually impaired users which often work by having a small speaker attached to the side of photocopiers and use speech-output software to communicate with a user.

- The number pad is used to go through various functions, with the speech output guiding the user.

- Braille label kits can also be provided for some devices, making tactile buttons recognisable.

Automatic document feeders that are now included in photocopiers increased the speed at which multiple documents can be copied. However, where there used to be just a straight forward platen cover covering the platen glass, these often now incorporate automatic document feeding equipment, making them heavier to lift and especially difficult for wheelchair users. To combat this problem, an accessibility handle can be fitted to many photocopiers which make lifting the document feeder much easier.

Touch screens can also be a problem as they are designed to be viewed from above and sometimes do not have very high contrasts making them difficult to access by wheelchair users and people with low vision. This problem has again been addressed by some photocopier manufacturers. The majority of photocopiers can now be networked. Software such as Remote Operator's software kit can be installed on the photocopiers, allowing users to access from a laptop or desktop PC, where the contrast and size of the information can be changed to make it more easily readable

A number of measures have been taken to improve accessibility of photocopiers. Technology in photocopiers and their capabilities has improved vastly in the last ten years and should be accessible to everyone. Now that a few photocopier manufacturers have taken measures to improve accessibility for disabled users it should mean that more people will be able to take advantage of these new features and access them easily.