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Sockets on charging units can be hard to use for many disabled people, and for some, completely inaccessible.

Photo of a woman sitting in a manual wheelchair. She frowns and leans forwards and sideways to see what she is doing, as she reaches up with one hand to plug a connector into a socket on the side of a basic roadside EV charging unit. She holds the sprung socket cover open with the thumb of her other hand.

Socket position

All users should be able to see, reach and use sockets easily.

Make sure that each socket is easily recognisable and clearly visible from wherever the user approaches the charging unit, and ideally has good contrast with its surroundings.

The user should be able to reach the socket comfortably by reaching forwards or sideways from a standing or seated position.

The socket should not be too high or low for seated or standing users to reach and use – there are socket heights that can work for both groups, or you could consider providing sockets at different heights or ones that can easily be adjusted to different heights.

Note that simply providing lower sockets for seated users is not likely to give a universally accessible experience, since there are people who cannot easily bend down because of pain or limited balance. However there are some socket heights that may work for both standing and seated users – see PAS 1899:2022 (opens in a new window) for details.

Consider that the socket may be easier to access on the front or side of the charging unit, depending on the surroundings. Go to our See reach and use parts of the charging unit page for more information on the positions of different parts of the charging unit.

Socket covers

Charging points are usually outdoors and their sockets need to be protected from water and dirt. However, the covers used to protect the sockets can make them less accessible for some people.

If a socket cover is needed, make sure the user can open it easily and insert a connector using one hand.

Close up photo of a woman holding up a sprung socket flap on an EV charging unit socket with the thumb of one hand which rests on top of the small kerbside charging unit. She pushes the connector into the socket with her other hand.

A stiffly sprung socket cover that needs two hands could prevent a user from using a charging unit at all.

“I only have the use of one hand, and it’s only because I have years of experience that I can manage things like lifting up the socket flap on the vehicle”
Close up photo of a woman using the end of the EV connector that she is holding to lift open the sprung socket flap on a simple EV charging unit. She holds a contactless card in her other hand.

One-handed use could include using the connector, rather than a hand, to open the socket cover.

This small change to a common socket cover design could help users who can only use one hand, for example if they:

  • Are using one hand to hold a walking aid or to lean on the charging unit for support
  • Are carrying something in one hand (e.g. a payment card or smartphone)
  • Only have the use of one hand
  • Only have one hand
Photo showing an EV charging unit with a black vertical display which houses a black socket cover with a white circular surround.

Make socket covers easy to find and obvious to use – consider having a high contrast surround to highlight the socket’s location.

Photo of a hand holding a connector close to the socket on the front of an EV charging unit. The end of the connector is resting on a gutter-shaped rest, which forms the top of the sliding socket cover.

Also consider supporting the weight of the connector while the user is lining it up ready to push into the socket.

Short video clip of a person pushing a connector easily into the socket on the front of an EV charging unit using one hand as they lean on a metal walking stick with the other.

Make sure the user can push the connector into the socket with little force.