Your kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house — and often of the least accessible. To create a wheelchair friendly kitchen, you’ll have to customize cabinets, countertops and more to suit your lifestyle. Though these renovations sound expensive, you may qualify for grants or other funds to make these changes to your home.
Widen Work Areas
The first step for your kitchen renovation is to ensure you can easily get into your kitchen and turn your wheelchair. To meet American Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Designs, all wheelchair friendly kitchen work areas should be at least 40 inches wide for pass-through kitchens or 60 inches wide in U-shaped kitchens. These size work areas should allow you to use your wheelchair while allowing others to also work in the kitchen.
To meet these standards, you may have to remove existing kitchen islands or install a smaller island.
Lower Countertop Heights
Countertops and work areas should be no more than 34 inches high to help you safely prepare food. You can purchase adjustable height countertops that can be lowered or raised to meet the needs of the person cooking. You should also ensure countertops have rounded edges, which can help you avoid injury.
Create Knee and Toe Space
Open space beneath the stove top, prep surfaces and sink make it easier for you to wheel up to the surface. You may need to remove existing cabinetry or install new surfaces to help your kitchen become more accessible.
You will also need higher toe kicks. Toe kicks in kitchens are typically 4 inches high. Eight-inch high toe kicks offer you better clearance to roll up to cabinets and appliances.
Consider New Appliances
Some appliances are designed to be more accessible. For instance, you can purchase a wall oven with side hinges, making it easier for you to reach inside when the door is open. Single drawer dishwashers can be placed higher off the floor so you can easily put dishes inside.
Placing appliances is also important. For example, place your dishwasher next to your sink so you can use the open knee space for both tasks. Wall ovens placed at the right height also make baking easier.
Install the Right Cabinets
Specially designed upper cabinets can be lowered to countertop height so you can reach items, put away dishes and more. These cabinets may be motorized or may have a pull beneath the shelves that smoothly and gently lowers all shelves.
Lower cabinets should have pullout shelves or drawers so you don’t have to reach for items at the back of the cabinet.
These changes combined make it easy for you to cook safely and maintain your independence. For help making your home more wheelchair accessible, contact Hampton Roads Mobility today at 757-663-5457.