July 26, 2023

Working toward an accessible ChargePoint driver portal

At ChargePoint, our drivers are incredibly important to us. Since 2007, we’ve worked on ways to make EV charging easier for everyone, no matter what they drive or how they interact with our systems. One of the ways we make driving electric easy is by working to ensure the accessibility of our products, including our digital platforms, such as our EV driver portal.

The ChargePoint driver portal is a web application that makes it easy for EV drivers to sign up for ChargePoint, find a place to charge and manage all their charging in one place. It includes the ability to manage payment methods, get receipts for charging and see how much you’ve spent. You can also manage your EVs, ChargePoint cards and more.

We recently redesigned the driver portal to meet the internationally recognized Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 Level AA. In the process, we worked closely with Deque, a provider of web accessibility software and testing, to evaluate the design of our system and make sure as many people as possible could easily use the portal.

ChargePoint driver portal

Accessibility testing and feature development

Our project involved extensive testing with VoiceOver on Mac and the NVDA screen reader on Windows, as well as testing with people with disabilities. Support for keyboard navigation was woven into every part of the portal. Some of the core features we developed to make it easier for more people to use the driver portal include:

  • Super zooming up to 400%
  • Strong color contrast in light and dark modes
  • Correct focus when opening and closing modals or dialogs
  • Ability to complete tasks without a mouse
  • Additional context for form controls

A major part of accessibility involves giving context for where users are on the screen. When we tested the portal with a person who is visually impaired, we found that he was not attempting to read the entire page, but rather build a mental model of where different features could be found. “When he did this, I could see him gain confidence in his ability to use our website, and from that point on he flew through it,” says Pat Clark, a senior staff engineer who helped lead the accessibility project.

Why EV charging software needs to be accessible

Sometimes, people ask why it’s so important for our software to be accessible. People with visual impairment might work at a place where they need to manage EV charging for their employer and colleagues. People who are blind may also need to hail rideshare EVs or even autonomous EVs. So ultimately, everyone needs to be able to use our products.

Additionally, the WCAG guidelines are comprehensive and not broken up by specific abilities, so only by working on all of the WCAG criteria can we make sure our products work for everyone. We may not be able to meet every requirement, but it all comes back to the fact that accessible solutions are better for everyone. And it’s our mission to keep making our solutions better. Because so many of the people who use our solutions are EV drivers, having accessible software for drivers is a strong foundation to build on when building additional accessibility features.

What’s next?

Beyond building accessible products, we are actively finding ways to incorporate accessibility into our ChargePoint culture. These include:

  • Developing an Accessibility Program dedicated to the adoption and implementation of accessibility practices and culture at ChargePoint.
  • Working with third-party specialists to create achievable strategic plans for our digital accessibility program.
  • Targeting our mobile applications for accessibility conformance through redesign and remediation efforts.
  • Generating VPATs for our existing digital products.
  • Thoughtfully considering the intersection of physical and digital accessibility requirements to ensure our entire ecosystem at ChargePoint is usable by all our customers worldwide.

As accessibility requirements and best practices evolve in the EV charging industry, we’ll be leading the charge to make EV charging more accessible to everyone. Whether that means billing for charging by the kWh or adding battery storage to smooth out demand charges, we are committed to making electric mobility happen in a way that works for everyone.

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