Tagged with: accessibility ADA assistive technology wheelchair
Just as I seem to be always preaching to other fitness professionals that there is a huge market out there for them if they would get training and experience (and market to) people with disabilities, I realized in researching this article that this really translates into other areas as well. For example, contractors should learn about and market barrier-free design and construction services, both commercially and residentially. For a contractor to know of products that can create an obstacle-free environment for full movement throughout the home and that conforms to their clients’ needs would be a huge feather in the cap of any contractor. Here are some resources that I found that can assist any contractors, or clients of contractors, in designing a barrier-free kitchen.
- Local building departments will know of regulations that your state or municipality may have adopted for residential and commercial barrier-free facilities related to construction.
- The Department of Justice offers information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as other publications specific to Accessible Design.
- National Kitchen & Bath Association publishes manuals and can certify designers, and often will have CEUs and other resources related to Universal Design and the ADA.
- The National Association of Home Builders can provide information about products that will meet ADA requirements.
- Accessible Environments is a large supplier of accessibility products and equipment.
- A book called Building for a Lifetime: The Design and Construction of Fully Accessible Homes is about building houses (interiors and exteriors) for people of different abilities and to meet the needs of those people throughout their lives.
Another really useful article came from http://www.asktooltalk.com/articles/construction/accessibility/kitchens.php. It described the three main considerations in accessible kitchens as being wheelchair mobility, work space comfort, and accessibility to cabinets and storage spaces and gave numerous measurements, suggestions, and resources pertaining to all of these. I listed some examples here, as well as some interesting products I found on both, but go to the link at asktooltalk.com to get a lot more specifics.
- Obviously take the individual’s wheelchair measurements into account for maneuvering around the kitchen is crucial, but other important measurements include entry doors, swing space of entry door, countertop height and depth, knee space (under sink) and safety of hot pipes in the knee space, sink depth, appliance height, and light switch, thermostat and electrical outlet height.
- The faucet should be a loop or single lever for easy operation. Kohler makes the “Coralais”, a single-handle model with a standard 9 1/2” spout and push button control for one-touch switching from stream to spray. The Extended Lever Kitchen Faucet by Barrier Free Architecturals, Inc. features a 10” long handle.
- Appliances can be found that have (i.e.) staggered burners on the cooktop or controls (including signal lights) on the front so no one has to reach across the burners. Other appliances such as a compact range-sink-refrigerator unit allow more flexibility. Dwyer Products Corporation offers a selection.
- Height of cabinetry important, but also features like pull-out cutting boards, slide-out or roll-out shelves and baskets, and drawers with full extension glides are helpful. KraftMaid Cabinetry, Inc. produces a pull-out base mini-pantry cabinet that is accessible from both sides and http://www.barrierfree.org/wheelchair-accessible-kitchen/ offers a variety of lifts, for cabinetry, shelving, counters, and appliances.
- Even beyond design, modifications to utensils and dishes exist such as utensils with extra large handles to make them easier to hold; ones that can be weighted to reduce hand tremors; or dishes can have suction cups on the bottom so they don’t slide out of place.
I thought it was also important to add some ideas for making kitchens accessible for other disabilities as well so check these out too:
• Talking timers, kitchen scales and thermometers
• Braille timers, measuring cups, stove knobs and other appliance controls
• Multi-use tactile stickers printed or embossed on plastic with bright, translucent colors can be used to mark microwave buttons or other key items.
• Glare-free lighting, cabinets, and low-gloss counter laminate
Deaf or Hearing Impaired
• Timers that are extra loud or that flash
• Kitchen timers to remind to turn off the stove or take food out of the oven
• Recipes with illustrated instructions
• Using the microwave for cooking
I don’t think people realize #1 just how many people with disabilities there are in this world (~52 million, and it frustrates me when people suggest that society shouldn’t have to consider that “small” part of the population when creating products for the masses) but #2 how word of mouth in the disability community can spread like wildfire. Though it’s not a small community, it is tight-knit, and having the skills and knowledge in ANY profession to cater to your clients’ needs and abilities (whatever those may be) would be to your advantage.