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Kitchen Design for the Physically Challenged

There are a variety of kitchen related tasks, products and their installation that must be considered when designing an ‘accessable’ kitchen for a person who uses a wheelchair. These include:

  • food preparation (bench height, etc.)
  • use of appliances (fridge, freezers, food processors, ovens, etc.)
  • storage (cupboards)
  • cleaning up (sinks, dishwashers, etc.)
  • access (space between benches, etc)
  • safety (flooring, bench corners, etc.)

Bear in mind that your kitchen design should also cater for the people who share the home and who may not be physically challenged. Also if you wish to sell your home in the future it is important that the kitchen layout is appropriate for people who are not disabled.

It is advisable to have an experienced kitchen design company involved in the design of your kitchen as every design feature, fixture and fitting needs to be carefully chosen to ensure ease of use and access.

Here are some global design features that would be incorporated in a kitchen for the physically challenged:

  • Plenty of convenient counterspace is necessary as wheelchair users or people using a ‘walker’ need to set items aside each time they reposition themselves.
  • Making countertops as continuous as possible allows dishes and food preparation containers to be slid between workstations (ie. from the fridge to the sink – to the cutting board – to the stove top, etc.)
  • Using a shallow basin for the kitchen sink can help to increase kneespace for those in a wheelchair.
  • Opt for door mounted shelves to store food items in cupboards. Another storage alternative is roll out shelves. Be sure to position these shelves so they can be easily accessed from the sides. Lazy Susan set ups within cupboards are quite popular for storing lighter items.
  • Choose a side-by-side fridge and freezer unit, and position it so the doors swing back completely when open so a wheelchair user can get closer to the shelves.

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