Designability, a charity that creates products to enable disabled people to live with greater independence, is to support a Motability project that aims to make electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the UK accessible for people living with disabilities.
Motability is a national charity with the vision that no disabled person should be disadvantaged due to poor access to transportation. Over the past year, it has conducted research to improve understanding of the challenges disabled people face when using private and public transport.
Lack of accessibility across the UK’s EV charging infrastructure has been highlighted as a key problem area and, with the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles due to end in 2030, Motability is focussing on chargepoint accessibility to ensure disabled people are not left behind.
With one-in-five people in the UK living with a disability, Motability’s research, conducted with specialist consultancy Ricardo, 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 infrastructure, meaning they will need to charge their vehicle away from home.
An additional report, sponsored by Motability, from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC), field tested the experiences of disabled drivers with EVs, identifying a range of specific challenges with design features, such as high kerbs, inadequate space for wheelchair users around the chargepoint and heavy cables.
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. Given the high cost of retrofitting major infrastructure, there is a robust commercial and social case for building in accessibility now to ensure that the transition is inclusive for everyone.
“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.
“One of our charity’s key priorities is to work with industry and government to amplify the voices of disabled people in the transport system and innovate solutions to chargepoint accessibility challenges If you are intersted in collaborating with us, please get in touch.”
Catharine Brown, chief executive at Designability, said: “This is an exciting new project for Designability. Our expertise in working with disabled people makes us perfectly placed to find solutions to these every day challenges – which will only increase as more people want to drive electric cars.
“It is shocking that the needs of disabled people have not been taken into account as this new technology becomes mainstream, and we are delighted to extend our relationship with Motability to create cutting edge design solutions.”
The scoping and discovery phase of the project began in January, with the aim of understanding where design solutions could be focussed to best improve accessibility, and to identify what issues need to be explored further with disabled people in order to help inform best practice for accessible design in this area.
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