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Coca Cola Freestyle and Web Accessibility

5 Guys, the amazing burger place, uses these new Coca Cola Freestyle machines for their soft drinks.


These machines allow you to choose from 165 different flavors in a single machine. It’s pretty awesome.

But over the weekend, I watched a man in a wheelchair struggle tremendously to use it.

Not designed with accessibility in mind

The problem is, these machines are absurdly tall. And unlike a typical counter-height soda fountain, you don’t just press your cup against the flavor you want or push a button.

You need to select your flavor from a touch screen.

If you’re in a wheelchair, you’re looking at these at an extreme angle with lots of glare from overhead lights. You’re not able to read the labels all that well. If you choose the wrong flavor, the “back button” is in the upper left-hand corner, where you can’t reach it.

This is not hypothetical. This man was literally unable to reach the back button because it’s too high if you’re in a wheelchair. I had to help him, which I was happy to do but I would imagine was slightly embarrassing for him.

No one should feel stupid or ashamed or uncomfortable using your product.

(By the way, this is a dig at Coca Cola for building such an inaccessible product, no 5 Guys. But they also should have taken this into consideration.)

Test, test, test

An estimated 20-percent of the population has some form of disability.

You need to be aware of what many of the major challenges they face might be—physical challenges, cognitive issues, color blindness, and so on.

And then you need to test the hell out of your website or product. If you can, with real people with real disabilities, but at a minimum, simulating their experience.