By Lucy Lawrence
Accessible Furniture Height
If you are starting out with an empty kitchen space, bespoke carpentry is ideal. Tabletops, sinks, dishwashers and cupboards can be built lower to ease the cooking and cleaning process. Low tabletops are key for safety, since you will be able to clearly see and control items you are chopping or heating. Low lying cupboards, meanwhile, will reduce the chance of pots and pans or other items falling out and causing possible injury.
Whether you are building new or modifying an existing kitchen, it is important to do your homework. Often products that are specifically made for disabilities are extremely expensive so research existing products that may work for you.
Following ADA/ANSI Guidelines
The ADA and ANSI give important technical guidelines on how to make kitchens and other areas more accessible to wheelchair users. There are many resources available such as The Universal Design Toolkit to assist you with your design. A clear floor space of at least 30” by 48” should be provided at each kitchen appliance. Wheelchair turning spaces, meanwhile, should have a diameter of at least 60”. Include knee and toe clearances in your calculations. You can get really creative when starting a kitchen design from scratch. For instance, if you have a limited space, you can opt for design features such as sliding central islands, in which half the table can be pushed under the main tabletop to create more space for wheelchair users.Try to find a contractor with accessibility experience who can help with design ideas too.
Choosing the Right Appliances
Your furniture can adapt to the equipment you choose so these should be taken into account and discussed, at the planning stage. Refrigerators and other appliances should have one-hand operation to comply with ADA requirements. Dishwashers should ideally have electronic capacitive touch controls located on the front of the machine so that reaching over isn’t required. Cooktops and any other operable part of equipment should have a front location and mirrors can be added above, to make it easier to see what you are cooking. Washers and dryers should be front-loading and have wide doors and eye level controls.
Important Note:The plumbing of sinks should be placed far back so you can wheel underneath. It's imperative that exposed pipes are insulated to protect your legs.Temperature controls can be added so the maximum temperature can be set low enough to prevent burns.
Think of ways that will make the cooking process more amenable. One creative use of
|Cabinets with Pull-out shelves|
There are also a multitude of gadgets such as mini food processors that can make everyday tasks much easier and safer.
Inspiration can be found everywhere for easier kitchen accessibility. When space isn’t an issue, design is a breeze. You can build an open kitchen with low-lying furniture and specialized equipment. If a big renovation isn’t in your plans, small changes can still make a difference. When you are in the design stage, let safety and comfort come first; whipping up the perfect meal should be easier and more pleasurable than ever.