Sockets on charging units can be hard to use for many disabled people, and for some, completely inaccessible.
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.
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.
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”
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
Make socket covers easy to find and obvious to use – consider having a high contrast surround to highlight the socket’s location.
Also consider supporting the weight of the connector while the user is lining it up ready to push into the socket.
Make sure the user can push the connector into the socket with little force.
Our charging unit prototypes
Take a look at the prototype EV charging units that we built in response to our user engagement work
Our case studies have been drawn together from first-hand accounts that were shared with us by disabled people and those close to them. Each story is made up of insights from several individuals, to share as much of our research as possible and to illustrate the impact of good and bad design on real people.
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