Encouraging moves coming
There’s optimism that change is coming, though. Earlier this year, the government announced plans for a more inclusive and reliable charging network in partnership with Motability, the Department for Transport and the British Standards Institute (BSI). Changes are targeted for this summer.
The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), Motability and the BSI will work with industry stakeholders (including charger operators) and disability charities to ensure that consumers can find the right chargers for their needs. Although operators insist that the design of publiccharge points is “carefully considered”, changes will be made to accommodate those who require increased space between bollards and to make chargers, parking bays and kerb heights more suitable for wheelchair users.
“With sales of EVs increasing and the government’s net-zero ambitions accelerating, I want to make it as easy as possible for EV drivers to charge up their vehicles at public charge points right across the UK, regardless of their mobility,” then transport minister Rachel Maclean stated in June 2021.
Badger said: “We’ve seen a lot of inaccessible chargers, but perhaps equally it hasn’t been easy for people to understand what ‘accessible’ means for EV chargers, to have time to develop inclusive design solutions. “We’re working with OZEV to develop new [charger] design standards and with the BSI, who are focused on accessibility, and the UK is the first in the world to do this. “If we get this right and standards are adopted, we can be confident that disabled people won’t be left behind in the shift to EVs.” Positives for accessibility have also been drawn from the new charger design that the government unveiled at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November last year.
“If we get this right now, that would be better and cheaper for the industry than having to do a retrofit process to adapt charge points later,” said Badger. “What we would like to see happen is that charge point standards are put together next year and they become compulsory.” Charitable disability design and engineering firm Designability is also hoping for change and recently conducted in-depth research into accessible EV charging. “It’s clear from our research with disabled EV users that public charging solutions are failing them in many ways,” said Keir Haines, Designability’s senior product designer. “We’ve seen some examples of good practice that the charging industry can learn from. However, usability, reliability and, most importantly for disabled people, accessibility is often poor in some if not all aspects of public charging.”