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Vending Machines For All

27 November, 2015

Vending Machines For All

A Waikato University law student is working on a summer start-up project to make vending machines more accessible to people living with disabilities or impairments.

Jayne Kaye Sankey-O’Dwyer went blind when she was 25 and had to make big changes in her life.

She says while there’s been big improvements in services for people with disabilities, accessibility to common services is still a big issue.

“One day I forgot to bring my drink bottle to university and embarrassingly had to ask a classmate to work the vending machine for me,” she says. “It’s not just me though, I was talking to a woman in a wheelchair who said she can’t use the machines because the coin slots are up too high.”

It’s still early days but Jayne plans to develop similar audio technology that’s used in ATMs to vending machines so they can ‘talk’ to customers who can’t read the screens.

Jayne is one of 24 Waikato students who won a $5000 scholarship to do a 10-week Summer Start-Up Programme, a new initiative developed by the University and Waikato Students’ Union (WSU).

The programme started on 16 November will run in Hamilton and Tauranga until 12 February - with a three-week break over Christmas. This gives students 10 weeks to develop their own project or idea with the help of an expert start-up coach, workshops and full-access to a shared working space.

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Jayne says applying for the programme was easy because she was so excited about her idea.

“I never thought I’d get it though – I had to re-read the email several times to believe it,” she says.

Part of her project involves doing a survey to identify what barriers people experience when using vending machines. If you’re interested in doing the survey, please contact Jayne at

Jayne is health conscious and says the contents of the vending machines will also be a focus of her project.

Originally from England, Jayne moved to Hamilton in 1995 and did her last year of secondary school at Fairfield College. The 37-year-old is now in her final year of a Bachelor of Laws and hopes to combine her interest in policy with her desire to make health more accessible to everyone.


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