Four new Redbox kiosks placed in the city may provide easy access to the latest movie rentals, but some city officials are raising concerns about their handicapped accessibility.
Haverhill Building Inspector Richard Osborne filed a notice with the City Council earlier this month raising the issue after the outdoor vending machines were installed at the three Haverhill Market Basket stores and the Walgreens at 800 River St.
The machines, which stand about 6 feet tall, use a touch-screen display that allows users to rent standard or Blu-ray DVDs.
Osborne said he received calls from Market Basket and Walgreens informing him of their plans to set up the vending machines, but said the city never officially approved them.
The devices are so new that there is no ordinance on the books governing them either in Haverhill or at the state or federal level, he said.
Jeffery Dougan, assistant director for community service at the Massachusetts Office on Disabilities, said Redbox-style kiosks raise accessibility concerns because, unlike ATMs, they are not required to offer Braille or sound-based interaction options for disabled users.
"They're still very limited on what they require," he said.
A spokesman for Redbox said the company is investigating ways to allow the machines to be used by individuals with poor or limited sight.
Brian Langlois, a member of the Haverhill Commission on Disability Issues, said another concern is making sure that wheelchair users are able to maneuver around the vending machines, noting that at least 36 inches of sidewalk must be clear of obstacles.
"If it's wider than that, even better," he said. "So long as there's room to get by."
At the Nov. 9 City Council meeting, Councilor William Macek said he would take the issue raised by Osborne to the Administration and Finance Committee, chaired by Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien. No date has been set for the meeting.