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Happy Friday, Below the Fold!
Shopping is top of mind as the major sales and gifting season begins. The latest gadgets are luring us all in, but one technology has been pushing its way into our lives more aggressively since the pandemic: self-checkout. They’re not perfect but they get to job done most of the time — unless you’re blind, deaf, or in a wheelchair.

Not Everyone Can Self-Checkout
Mon Nov 21


Self-checkout isn’t a beloved part of the grocery shopping experience, but it’s even more frustrating, if not impossible, for those with disabilities. The troubles range from the lack of space for a wheelchair (and thus a screen that’s out of reach for those shoppers) to being inoperable by the blind as the only interface is a touchscreen.

But stores have been allowed to keep the systems as-is because an employee is often made available to those who need assistance. However, there have been accusations of employees stealing from the blind person they were asked to assist. There are also fears that those requesting assistance are left to the mercy of bad actors pretending to be helpful employees when a store is short staffed. One disability-rights lawyer says that, beyond those issues, those with disabilities should be able to reap the benefits that everyone else does from self-checkout (such as privacy).

Turns out, everyone else (including the stores themselves) also dislikes self-checkout. The machines are pricey, glitchy, and can lead to smaller sales. Then there are issues with frustrated customers scanning incorrectly or being confused by how a product is priced and weighed, not to mention how much easier it is to shoplift with self-checkout. In fact, losses are 77% higher if 50% of a store’s transactions are through self-checkout. So why is self-checkout here to stay?
  • Fewer employees means reduced labor costs. At least one estimate put savings at up to 66%.
  • Customers think it’s faster, but it’s because they’re being kept busy by doing the work themselves.
  • Contactless transactions are more hygienic (as long as stations are cleaned frequently).
  • Everyone else is doing it, leaving stores fearful of falling behind competitors.
Globally, the self-checkout systems market is projected to reach $6.6B by 2027, over double its size in 2020 at $3.1B. The U.S. market alone was $1.3B in 2020. With such a strong future ahead, the U.S. government has recognized the need to regulate soon. The Access Board, a federal agency promoting equal rights for people with disabilities, has already developed guidelines for self-checkout systems but is waiting for an agency with enforcement powers to adopt them.
BELOW THE FOLD BYTES

Parched from Drought, California Approves Desalination Plant

 
“Water, water everywhere
Nor any drop to drink.”
— unless you’re willing to spend the $330M necessary to generate 4.8M gallons a day. California is approving its second desalination plant as water supplies get desperately low. The Central Valley, which supplies 25% of the U.S.’s food and 40% of its fruit and nuts, has been hit the worst but the state overall has lost $3B to the drought. Still, the desalination plant has not been without debate as it will increase water bills by $47-$50 per month.


>> Read More

Former Paralymic Athlete is World’s First “Parastronaut”

 
The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected its first new class of astronauts in 13 years. Among the 17 selected is British paralympic athlete and surgeon, John McFall. McFall had his leg amputated after a motorcycle crash when he was 19 years old. With McFall, ESA hopes to better understand the types of accommodations needed when sending parastronauts to space. For instance, how the parastronauts might anchor themselves in microgravity or what adjustments should be made to the space suits.

>> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

 
While public comment has closed for the Access Board’s proposed guidelines, learn more about the ongoing fight for accessible self-service kiosks on this blog: Law Office of Lainey Feingold.
THIS WEEK'S SOURCES
Inaccessible Self-Checkouts
6 minutes | 4 days ago
Univeral(ly Disliked) Self-Checkout
6 minutes | 4 months ago
Nerd Wallet:
Self-Checkouts: Pros and Cons
4 minutes | 9 months ago
CLASSIFIEDS

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ASCII-ING ABOUT THE NEWS
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         _|_
      .-'   '-.
     /         \
     ^^^^^|^^^^^
          |
ejm97     \_/
Why are you selling your umbrella?
I’m moving to California. I need every penny to pay for water.

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