The benefits of smart metering are well-established; greater control over consumption, improved efficiencies and reductions in consumer bills. It’s precisely for these reasons that British energy retailers have committed to offer every single household in Great Britain a smart metering system despite the challenges this commitment brings.
One such challenge is ensuring that customer-facing equipment is accessible and easy to use, to help maximise the benefits of smart meters. There are around 360,000 people in Britain who are registered with their local authority as blind or partially sighted. Visual impairments such as these are likely to restrict some customers from using the in-home displays that suppliers will be offering all customers.
For this reason, Energy UK has been leading work with our membership and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to develop in-home displays for the visually impaired. Initially an exercise in determining the accessibility of pre-existing in-home displays, this work has since grown. Energy UK and the RNIB are now working with in-home display manufacturers to develop an accessible device. This new device will be specifically tailored to the blind and partially sighted as well as providing improved accessibility to all energy customers. The RNIB have expertise and experience in this field from working on accessible cash-points and accessible digital TV guides. This knowledge, with the support of Energy UK and our members, will ensure that those with visual impairments and other accessibility issues can all realise the benefits of smart metering.