National disability charity Motability has partnered with Designability in order to make electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the UK accessible for people living with disabilities.
Over the past year, Motability has conducted extensive research to improve understanding about the challenges disabled people face when using private and public transport in order to ensure their voices help to inform the charity’s work.
Charge point accessibility
Lack of accessibility across the UK’s EV charging infrastructure has been highlighted as a key problem area, not least in a recent Zap-Map survey, which found that a third of disabled people surveyed had difficulties locating a suitable charger to meet their needs. As such, and with the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles due to end in 2030, Motability is focusing on charge point accessibility to ensure disabled people are not left behind.
With one in five people in the UK living with a disability, Motability’s research estimates that there will be 2.7 million disabled drivers or passengers by 2035, with 1.35 million expected to be partially or wholly reliant on public charging networks, meaning they will need to charge their vehicle away from home.
To ensure the UK is inclusive by 2030, Motability has awarded grant funding to Designability, a charity creating products that enable disabled people to live with greater independence. The two organisations are working together to further understand the challenges disabled people face, exploring possible solutions to increase the accessibility of EV charging infrastructure.
The experience, shared knowledge and expertise of Designability’s researchers, product designers and engineers will be invaluable in achieving the project’s aims – to provide an understanding for industry and government of what accessibility means and what best practice could look like for EV charge points.
Catherine Marris, Innovation Lead at Motability, said:
“Our research has found that current EV charging points have not been designed with the needs of people living with disabilities in mind and it’s imperative that they’re included in this future shift.
“We have joined forces with Designability as their objectives align closely to our own and they’re experts in the field of user centred design and product creation to increase independence for disabled people. As a world leading project, we are determined to work towards ensuring that future charging infrastructure is inclusive and accessible for anyone living with disabilities.”
Catharine Brown, Chief Executive at Designability, added:
“This is an exciting new project for Designability. Our expertise in working with disabled people makes us perfectly placed to find solutions to these everyday challenges – which will only increase as more people want to drive electric cars.
“For over 50 years we have listened to disabled people describe their challenges and created innovative products which help them to live the life they choose. This project will enable us to have an impact on the lives of millions of disabled drivers for many years to come.”
The scoping and discovery phase of the project began in January this year, with the aim of understanding where design solutions could be focused to best improve accessibility, and to identify what issues need to be explored further with disabled people to help inform best practice for accessible design in this area.
Motability and Designability will continue working closely to engage with disabled people to identify needs, define design requirements and test concepts, demonstrating what best practice in charging accessibility for electric vehicles looks like.