4 Tips to Make the Kitchen Work

Jun 01, 2015
Tagged with: 4 Tips to Make the Kitchen Work

We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has brought about monumental changes in the lives of people with a disability  in the past couple of decades. Medical advancement and extensive research offer better treatment of disability-inducing traumas like spinal cord and sports injuries.

Thanks to the ADA, businesses and all public places are equally accessible now, and there are tough laws prohibiting any form of discrimination against people with disability.

With better amenities in public life and improved ease in carrying out their daily activities, a majority of people with disabilities prefer to continue to live in their own homes. Aging baby boomers also increasingly choose to remain self-sufficient and stay in their own places. It is not difficult for people with disabilities to live independently, provided living spaces are planned accordingly and accommodate people with different needs.

The ADA specifies universal design features that contribute towards more accessible homes. Your kitchen is the soul of your home and if you cook, it’s all the more necessary you enjoy the time you spend there. Here are a few things that you can look into when building an accessible kitchen.


  • Adjust the Height of Kitchen Counters


One of the biggest problems a person in wheelchair faces is inaccessible counter height. A minimum height of 28″ is recommended. Countertops at a height of more than 34″ will be difficult for a person with a disability.

It is important that there is space beneath the countertop to allow access for a  wheelchair. Make sure there is space for knee and toe clearance as well.

Though these measurements are the usual standard it will be better if you consider the personal convenience and individual working ranges of the person for whom the kitchen is being accommodated.

It is important you decide on the height of the countertop early on itself. The rest of the cabinetry, work areas and storage space need to be built around this height.

Pull out shelves and drawers on both sides of the countertop should be sufficient to hold utensils and necessary appliances.

Most appliance makers now offer wheelchair accessible cooktops that can be easily used by someone in a sitting position or in a wheelchair. Motorized cooktops allow height to be adjusted to suit the needs of all members in the family.


  • Sink Should Be Easy to Use


An accessible sink area will have sufficient open space for a wheelchair to be accommodated. You also need to be mindful of the depth of the sink and make room for knee clearance which varies for kids and adults. A 6-inch deep sink is considered to be sufficient.

User-friendly modifications include having the drain at the rear so as to prevent the piping from taking up space beneath the sink. Ensure that exposed plumbing is insulated or enclosed behind door panels to prevent danger of scalding.

Trash and recycling bins can be placed in a pullout cabinet by the side of the sink so that they are easily accessible but still do not come in the way.

A single lever faucet will help you rinse food comfortably. You can attach a hose to the faucet to make things more convenient.

Sliding drawers on either sides of the sink will help you store cleaning products which can be easily accessed. Suitable cabinets will help you keep away washed utensils. Holders can also be worked into the structure where washed veggies and other food stuff can be kept. Easy forward reach is an important consideration while designing sinks.


  • Wall Cabinets Should Be Easy to Reach


Height of wall cabinets will have to be re-considered to suit the needs of a person with a disability. The standard height of cabinets at 18″ above the countertop will have to be lowered to around 15″ which will make them easily accessible to all members of the family.

You can also choose to go for automated kitchen fittings that allow the upper cabinets to be lowered. Alternatively pull-down shelving units can be installed in upper cabinets that can be lowered and extended to reachable levels. If you are ready to consider more expensive options, electric powered adjustable cabinets can make every shelf accessible at the touch of a button.

User-friendly modifications like looped cabinet pulls that are easy to use, full extension corner storage options and drawers, touch-release drawers and ample drawer dividers will help you work conveniently and stress-free in the kitchen.

While designing kitchen cabinetry and furniture ensure there is ample floor space and at least 5-foot clearance between all fixtures to make it easy for a person with a disability  to rotate a wheelchair and move around. This will also provide space for more people to use and cook in the kitchen.


  • Do Pay Heed to Appliances as Well


There are many appliances that you use in your kitchen on a daily basis. All reputed manufacturers offer gadgets with user-friendly modifications.

A double-drawer dishwasher that is accessible from either sides will be easy to operate, and will make loading and unloading dishes easy. If you use the appliance rarely then a single-door gadget will be convenient in that it offers extra storage space underneath as well. Ensure the dishwasher is raised from the floor by at least 12 inches and you have a 9-inch toe kick to make it more accessible.

In addition to convenience, safety also needs to be given equal importance. Staggered burners on cooktops with controls in the front will eliminate the necessity to reach across hot and in-use burners.

Side-hinged oven doors allow a person seated on a wheelchair to open it fully and get closer to the opening.  Install pull-out worktop runner or shelf beneath the oven to help you transfer a hot dish on to the countertop without having to hold it for long. Also make use of a push cart that can help you take hot dishes from the cooktop to the table without any trouble.

For the cooking range, go for one with slanted control panel fitted with recessed control knobs that are easy to operate. Front positioning helps in ease of use and signal lights on panel improves safety.

Opt for a fridge that has the freezer drawer at the bottom. It is more convenient to operate than a bottom-mounted freezer door, and offers very easy access to young children and people who are wheelchair users.



Remodeling your home to make it more accessible is a wise long-term decision. Your needs and priorities change with time, and a loft bed accessible by a steep ladder may not seem practical after your little ones have grown. Accessible home improvements make your home attractive to a prospective buyer, more so when your kitchen is thoughtfully designed. Speak to a professional to get the best and the most cost-effective options for your home.









Author Bio: Lori Wagoner is associated with MedCorp – one stop resource to buy used ultrasound machines. She is looking to build up her authority as blogger and often shares her thoughts on health, medicine and likes. Feel free to follow her on Google+.







Author: Lori Wagoner

  • bobl07

    This is such an important step in having a home. Being able to cook my own meals without any issues. Thanks for the tips.