The design and position of power outlets, switches and controls is crucial to their convenient use.
Power outlets, switches and controls should be positioned consistently throughout the building in logical positions and sequences to allow comfortable operation by those standing or seated.
Everyone will be able to locate and use switches, outlets and controls if they are in a consistent, logical position and sequence, are contrasted against their background, and have large touch plates.
It is important that people using touch to identify switches and controls do not make inadvertent selections. This is a particular problem with touch screen interfaces.
Some building users and those carrying things will not be able to operate facilities that require the simultaneous use of both hands.
The height of switches and controls above the floor will determine those who are able to use them comfortably and how easy they are to operate. For instance, people who are blind need to feel the orientation of an electrical plug before they try and insert it, by touch, into the power point. If that power point is at a low level, or obscured by furniture, this can be difficult.
People with dexterity limitations will find switches and controls that are close together (such as double power points with the switches located centrally) difficult to operate.
Everyone should be able to tell when switches are on or off. People with low vision or who are colour-blind may have difficulty with this task if the colours red and green are used without other information. Those who are blind will rely on tactile methods.
It is important that sockets are positioned in locations where plugs with standard length power cords can be used.
- Ensure switches, outlets and controls are positioned in a consistent, logical position and sequence, are contrasted against their background, and have large touch plates.
- Ensure switches and controls contrast with the back plate which then contrasts with the wall.
- Choose switches and controls to ensure that people using touch do not make inadvertent changes.
- Ensure that switches and controls do not require the simultaneous use of both hands.
- Position switches and controls at a height and location that will make their use easy especially with short power cords.
- Ensure adequate space surrounds all individual switches and controls.
- Ensure it is easy to identify if switches are on or off.
Building Code requirement
Building Code clause G9 Electricity:
G9.3.4 In buildings intended for use by people with disabilities, light switches and plug socket outlets shall be accessible and usable.