Inclusive Design: Crafting Kitchens for Everyone

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For people with disabilities, a great kitchen is about more than beautiful surfaces. It’s also accessible and lets them live comfortably in their own home.

Building accessible kitchens isn’t just about making room for wheelchairs. 

Many families include elderly or differently-abled people. A few simple considerations can make all your kitchens more welcoming for the entire family.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways you can make your kitchens more user-friendly for disabled residents. 

These 5 things will also help you meet ADA-compliance obligations for your multi-unit construction project. 

 

1. Prioritize Space 

ADA guidelines require at least 40” to 60” of clear space between all cabinets and counters to make room for mobility aids like wheelchairs. 

You also need to leave plenty of space in front of work areas like your ADA kitchen sink, so wheelchair users can pull up, back out and turn around without bumping into anything.

Nobody likes feeling cramped in the kitchen. Having more open space makes the kitchen feel more roomy and welcoming. Like a room where you can have conversations as you chop vegetables or do dishes.

2. Choose Appliances with Accessible Controls

Some ranges and stovetops have controls at the back of the appliance, where it meets the wall. This is difficult for people who use mobility aids like a wheelchair, or who have limited range of motion in their arms. 

Disabled residents wouldn’t want to have to call someone every time they need to turn on the stove. Any family members would always be worried about them getting into accidents. 

So choose appliances with controls along the front, so disabled residents can be more independent.

3. Install an ADA-Compliant Kitchen Sink

Kitchen sinks have more specific ADA requirements than most other areas of the kitchen.

First, you need to choose an ADA compliant kitchen sink. They have specific measurements, most noticeably a shallow basin. This lets homeowners reach all parts of the sink from a seated position.

 

Next, your sink needs to be installed so it’s accessible to people in wheelchairs. That means it should sit no higher than 34” from the floor, and give knee clearance of 27” in height, 30” in width, and 11-25” in depth. 

 

And finally, the space under the sink has to be accessible too. That means avoiding cabinets that sit flush to the edge of the countertop. And insulating the pipes below the sink to prevent burns and scrapes.

 

4. Use an ADA Kitchen Faucet

Of course, you’ll also need an ADA kitchen faucet to go with your basin. 

 

Accessible faucets should have a single, easy-to-use handle that can be controlled with one hand. The control shouldn’t require grasping, pinching, or twisting the wrist.

 

Normally, this means choosing a single-handle lever design. Touchless or touch-activated faucets can also be good options if your budget allows.

 

Other features that can make your ADA kitchen sink more accessible include pull-out or pull-down sprayers that are easy to reach. These are popular features in general, and can enhance your kitchen’s appeal to a variety of buyers.

5. Create Storage and Shelving That’s Easy to Reach

Accessible storage is always a great way to go. No one wants to be left digging in the back of hard-to-reach cabinets. 

 

To make your kitchen ADA-compliant, you must be able to reach at least 50% of the shelf space from a seated position.

 

Pull-out shelving and adjustable storage are a great way to do this without wasting any space. Everyone loves pull-out shelving. 

Other Ways to Make your Kitchen More Accessible 

You can make any kitchen feel welcoming for all ages and abilities with a few other considerations such as:

 

  • Good lighting and under-cabinet lighting over workspaces.
  • Non-slip flooring.
  • Countertops with contrast to make edges and appliances more visible.
  • At least one work area with a lower countertop to accommodate working while sitting or standing.

 

If your budget allows, you can even install a motorized system that raises and lowers the sink as needed. This is a great way to make your ADA kitchen sink work for everyone in the family!

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