Bringing the benefits of smart meters to blind and partially sighted customers

Energy UK, leading smart meter display manufacturer, geo, and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have been working with energy suppliers to develop an Accessible In-Home Display (AIHD) for smart meters for blind and partially sighted customers.

Smart meters come with an In-Home Display (IHD) showing customers how much energy they have used. The aim of this project is to allow more customers to access the benefits of smart meters which can save consumers energy and money. Features of the AIHD include high-contrast, tactile buttons and speech output.

Energy UK and geo have worked together to design and manufacture the units, with RNIB providing expert advice, working alongside blind and partially sighted user groups to provide feedback and guidance to shape the overall design specification.

Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of Energy UK, said:

“There are over 12 million smart meters already in homes and businesses across the country and Energy UK and energy suppliers are determined that everyone should be able to experience the benefits.

“These displays will enable blind and partially sighted consumers to access their data which will in turn help them improve their energy efficiency and reduce spending on gas and electricity.

“This partnership with RNIB and geo is a great example of how Energy UK and its members are leading industry collaboration, focussed on bringing innovation and value to all consumers.”

John Worsfold, RNIB implementation manager, said:

“With the government drive for smart meters to be in 53 million homes by 2020, it is essential that blind and partially sighted customers can also benefit from being able to monitor energy usage and potentially save energy and money.

“We’re pleased to be involved with this project and look forward to seeing the AIHD in consumers’ homes very soon.”

Patrick Caiger-Smith at geo, said:

‘‘As a leading manufacturer of smart meter displays, we have been working with Energy UK, energy suppliers and RNIB to develop a display designed with inclusion in mind. It will allow blind and partially sighted customers to interact with the device, accessing and understanding their energy usage in real-time without the need to rely on the visual display.

“We are delighted at the prospect that our technology and the adaptions will help in this way.”

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said:

“Everyone who wants a smart meter should be able to feel the benefits so it’s great to see this innovative collaboration to support blind and partially-sighted consumers to take control of their energy use.

“With access to accurate information, consumers will be able to take control of their energy use and save money on their bills. This is just one example of how smart meters, the cornerstone of a smarter, energy system fit for the future, will help shape the way we all live for the better.”

Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton said:

“People with visual impairments can often be excluded from benefiting from advances in technology that many take for granted. We also know that disabled people sometimes face additional costs in their everyday lives, so it’s great to see the energy industry and charities working together to ensure that disabled consumers can access the latest innovations.” 

Accessible In-Home Display (AIHD) units will be ready for testing with energy suppliers later this year and available for customers from the first half of 2019.

If you or a family member have sight loss or other accessibility needs, contact your supplier who will discuss the options available, and will be able to provide further information on smart metering, including the AIHD. Alternatively, speak to your supplier about accessibility options when they contact you about installing a smart meter.