LAYOUT

The ADA states the minimum clearance for wheelchair accessibility is 32 inches wide. To improve flow, Soheil Nakhshab of Nakhshab Development & Design prefers a distance of 48 inches between the kitchen cabinets and the island (1). 

LIGHTING

LED lights are long-lasting and easy on the eyes. In addition to task lighting above work stations, install lights in storage spaces to spotlight hard-to-see areas.

STORAGE

“You want daily-use items at waist-height,” says architect Karen Braitmayer, who recommends rolling cabinets (2) and pull-down shelves (3). Rotating lazy susan trays (4) and full-extension slide shelving also give easier access to deeper storage spaces. Child-safety locks on cabinets keep contents secure (5).

DRAWERS

Lever-style door handles and wide drawer pulls (6) are easier to grasp. Nakhshab also suggests a touch system “where you push the door and it pops open.”

COOKTOP

Induction cooktops (7), which conduct heat only when in contact with a magnetic cooking vessel, are safer for homes with children, as well as for adults who may forget to shut off the burners. Braitmayer likes burners set side-by-side with controls at the front.

APPLIANCES

Drawer-style appliances and side-opening doors can be game changers. “Imagine if you have a bad back,” says architect Robert Kahn. “The side-opening oven (8) is an ADA design that benefits the general population.” Light signals, which can be clearly seen from a distance, can also complement or replace audible alerts like buzzers.

SINK

Wheelchair users require clearance below the sink (9). Covering exposed pipes with insulating wrap can prevent burns or abrasions, says Braitmayer. Lever-style fixtures (10) are easier to grip than twist knobs, and motion-sensor technology gives users hands-free control.

WORK SURFACES

Countertops installed at varying levels (11) offer easy-to-use work spaces, regardless of the user’s height. Rails installed along the perimeter (12) offer extra support.

FLOOR

Surfaces like cork and rubber are comfortable, provide extra traction, and are smooth for wheelchairs plus, they hide nicks and scuffs.  Photo 1 of 1 in 14 Ways to Make Your Kitchen More Safe and Accessible
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