john Gill technology header image

New European Standards on the Man-Machine Interface for Card Systems

Edited by Dr. John Gill, Chief Scientist, RNIB
August 1999

The European standards organisation CEN has a working group (TC224 WG6) on "Identification Card Systems - Man-Machine Interface". This group has been developing standards which are of particular significance for disabled people wanting to use self-service terminals which use cards (eg cash dispensers, ticket selling machines, public telephones).

Four standards have been produced, and the group is now working on two new items on which they would like your help.

1 General Design Principles

This standard specifies the design principles for the user interface to be incorporated into the design of card operated equipment. It also provides recommendations for the operational procedures to be followed when users interact with a card operated device to:

Enter a system
Using a system
Leaving a system
The aim of this standard is to:

Make card-based systems easier to learn to use
Aid the user's interaction with the system through a consistent user interface
Reduce the possibility of error
Help users with different levels of ability, comprehension and experience
The standard covers aspects such as user instructions, single handed operation, display of charges, and receipts.

2 Card Orientation

This standard specifies a notch to help blind people use the correct orientation for card insertion. This standard applies to machine-readable cards including telephone cards. It is in line with the standards from International Telecommunications Union and European Telecommunication Standards Institute.

3 Keypads

This standard specifies the arrangement, the number and location of numeric and command keys on card operated devices. It specifies that a numeric keypad must be laid out as on a telephone (and not as on a calculator) with a tactile identifier on the number 5. It also specifies the colour and arrangement for command keys such as "enter", "cancel" and "clear".

4 Coding of User Requirements

This standard defines how details of a user 's preferred interface can be stored on the card. These preferences could include large characters on the screen, speech prompts, more time to use the terminal, or amplification of sound output.

It is important that organisations representing disabled people encourage service providers to implement these standards.

Standards in Preparation

The CEN working group is considering two items on which they would welcome contributions from interested parties.

Provisions for physical accessibility to card reading terminals

The environment of a card-reading terminal, such as a cash dispenser, can make significant differences to the ease with which a disabled person can use the machine. For wheelchair users, it is important that the space in front of the machine is level and that the relevant parts of the user interface are within reach. For someone with low vision, the level of illumination is important. A starting point for this work item was "Access Prohibited? Information for Designers of Public Access Terminals" (

Tactual differentiation of cards

One problem faced by blind people is the difficulty in selecting the correct card to use in a machine; this is exacerbated by the increasing use of cards without embossing (eg utility cards, loyalty cards, telephone pre-payment cards). Agreement is being sought for a work item to examine methods for adding embossing to cards to indicate its type and issuer. The starting point for this work item was "Selecting Cards by Touch" (

If you would like to contribute to either of these standards, please contact Joyce Blow, Convenor CEN TC224 WG6, 17 Fentiman Road, London SW8 1LD (Tel/Fax +44 207 735 4023).

Copies of standard EN-1332 (Identification Card Systems - Man-Machine Interface) in English, French and German can be obtained from Comité Européen de Normalisation, Rue de Stassart 36, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium (Tel +32 2 519 6811, Fax +32 2 519 6819).


John Gill Technology Limited Footer
John Gill Technology Limited Footer