October 17, 2023

Is your EV Charging Station ADA-Compliant for Federal Funding?

Image of a parking space with a car and plug in graphic. Text on the image reads electric vehicle parking. Image of a parking space with a car and plug in graphic. Text on the image reads electric vehicle parking.

Written by Jeff Westendorf, Project Manager, and Chris Foley, PS, EV Infrastructure Lead

There has been a significant increase in the demand and installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations as the popularity of electric vehicles has grown. There has also been an increase in funding programs to support this need including the federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program and incentive programs in various states and local jurisdictions across the US. In all this excitement, one topic sometimes missed is an understanding that funding may not be available if the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements are not met. In this article, we will explore the key considerations for installing ADA-compliant EV charging stations.

Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and EV Charging Stations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This law requires public accommodations, including parking lots, to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The existing ADA standards address many aspects of accessibility for buildings and sites applicable to EV charging stations but do not specifically address this infrastructure. To handle this gap, in July 2022, the U.S. Access Board issued Design Recommendations for Accessible Electric Vehicle Charging Stations. Charging stations should be designed and constructed according to the Access Board’s Recommendations to demonstrate ADA compliance and optimize usability for persons with disabilities.

Additionally, in June 2023, updates were made to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program Guidance (p. 14) that discuss how the State planning and implementation will ensure compliance with State and Federal civil rights laws, including the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA Compliance Requirements to Consider for EV Charging Stations

To ensure ADA compliance when installing EV charging stations in parking lots, there are several key requirements to consider. These requirements focus on providing a path of travel, parking spaces, and clearances for individuals with disabilities.

Accessible Parking Spaces

The ADA requires that a certain percentage of parking spaces be designated as accessible. Typically, this is around 4% of the total parking spaces or one accessible space for every 25 spaces.

At least one of the EV charging stations should be located in an accessible parking space. This space should meet the ADA requirements for dimensions, including width and length to accommodate vehicles and provide ample space for individuals with disabilities to enter and exit their vehicles.

Path of Travel

An accessible route should be provided from the accessible parking space to the EV charging station. This route should be free of any obstacles or barriers that could impede the mobility of individuals with disabilities. This may also include an accessible path to restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area.

The accessible paths should have a slope and cross slope that comply with ADA standards to ensure ease of navigation for individuals using wheelchairs or other mobility devices. To confirm these types of tolerances, field verification would be required.

Clearances and Reach Ranges

Adequate clearances and reach ranges should be considered when designing EV charging stations. This includes ensuring there is enough space around the charging station for individuals with disabilities to maneuver and access the charging equipment.

The controls and other operable parts of the charging station should be positioned within reach ranges specified by the ADA to ensure that individuals with disabilities can easily use them.

Signage and Accessibility Information

Clear and visible signage should be provided to indicate the location of accessible EV charging stations. The signage should comply with ADA requirements for mounting height and visibility.

State-Specific Requirements and Incentives

It is important to note that ADA compliance requirements may vary from state to state. Some states have developed their own building codes and accessibility standards in addition to the federal ADA requirements. It is crucial to work with an engineering and design firm like Westwood to consult the relevant state agency or Office of Disability for specific information on ADA compliance requirements in your state.

Where do you go from here?

To take advantage of available funding opportunities on your next EV charging station, it is advisable to explore these federal and state-specific funding requirements with an engineering firm to ensure regulation compliance. This can help secure funding while further enhancing the accessibility and usability of EV charging stations across the nation.

Embarking on an EV charging station installation project? We can help! Our team can consult with ADA experts and relevant state agencies to ensure ADA standards and regulations are met. Contact our experts to partner with you along the way, from concept to construction.

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