Malaysia making their vending machines accessible

A man holding a camera and a white cane in silhouette with a silhouette of a lab guide dog in front of him. The blind Travels logo is to the right of them.

Malaysia is launching a program to tackle one of the most difficult things to navigate as a visually impaired person: the vending machine. According to Mashable:

The Southeast Asian nation’s biggest F&B vending operator, ATLAS Vending, recently collaborated with the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) to roll out a pilot program that sees 11 machines rolled out in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital.

The new machines have braille plates to help buyers navigate the system, and motion sensor triggered audio instructions. For so many of us who are visually impaired, vending machines are a mystery. The prices are located below the items for sale and are usually poorly lit. Even if you can figure out the price and number-letter combination usually required to purchase the item, users still have to figure out how to use a series of buttons which are not labeled in braille and often not in large print or high contract lettering either. Often, the entire process of buying something in a vending machine is a frustrating one where the visually impaired are required to rely on the sighted for assistance. 

I’m always an advocate for making daily life more accessible, but vending machines are especially troublesome. If they had any consistency in stock or functionality, then at least one could remember the combination of buttons required to purchase an item. As it stands stock rotates and often when you have it all figured out and you know the button combination for the item you want, the stock will change and you end up with something unexpected. I hope the changes Malaysia are attempting inspire vending machine companies in other countries (like the US) to make the next generation of vending machines at least somewhat accessible. 

For more information, you can read the Mashable article here:

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