Unless you’re installing a custom project, kitchen remodel plans are usually based off of standard options, including height and width specifications. While this can make ordering and replacing easier, there are many instances where this is not ideal; especially for those who have a physical disability. For them, tasks as simple as getting a glass of water can become daunting.
Designers nationwide have been incorporating ideas to make daily routines easier for these people in the kitchen. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 has standard specifications on everything from countertop heights to specs on kitchen appliances, so this could be a great point of reference for those deciding how to plan a kitchen remodel space for someone with a physical disability.
Below are a few more options to keep in mind when planning your project:
- Refrigerator– Side by side doors may be more accessible for someone in a wheelchair – the doors are shorter and more in-reach than a top freezer door. Refrigerators can come in a “counter-depth” model which is shallower for easier reach to the back; or compact models are available for mounting at an accessible height with pull out drawers.
- Oven/Stove Top– Ovens also come with a side swing door option. It may help to get a separate wall mounted oven, and a stove top with the controls mounted on the front of the unit, as opposed to the top back. Two-burner stoves are also available to avoid the reach to any back burners.
- Dishwashers- Dishwashers come in different sizes and styles, some with pull out drawers. There are even small countertop models which can be placed at an accessible height.
- Sink faucets- Water can be turned on by just a touch, no knobs to turn or levers to pull. Another option is to get a pull out faucet with a squeeze handle, so there is not a separate hose attached to the back of the sink base.
Cabinets can be re-fitted to accommodate physical disabilities in many ways:
- Height-Instead of the standard 34.5 inches, opt for something lower to accommodate for a wheelchair.
- Space– If a wheelchair is in the equation, the kitchen design will need to provide ample room for moving and turn around. Opt for cabinets that are not as deep; this will give more floor space and also lessen the reach to the back of the cabinets. Another option is to leave the space under the kitchen sink open so you can pull up to the sink in a wheelchair, or to store a stool for sitting while doing dishes and food prep.
- Cabinet Hardware-There are many options for knobs and pulls – make sure to find something that is easy to grab and manipulate, especially if hand mobility is a challenge.
- Pull –Out Shelving– Instead of fixed shelving, opt for pull out shelves for easier access.
With a little planning, kitchens can be customized to fit your needs. Talk with a professional about your options so you can make sure you’re getting the best layout for your setting.