Improving Access In Kitchens
A wheelchair-accessible kitchen must be carefully considered in the design process and requires an understanding of kitchen design. A kitchen designer needs to comprehend individual user needs and abilities. For example, if the wheelchair user lives alone, the proposed kitchen layout will respond to his or her needs yet if the wheelchair user lives with other people who are non-wheelchair users the kitchen arrangement should reflect more universal design features. If future resale is important, the homeowner may not wish to make too many customized modifications. Thatís why itís essential you talk to an experience kitchen design company.
For starters, we need to address the most appropriate counter design; whether or not a U-shaped, L-shaped or galley (straight-line) kitchen suits best. Many believe U-shaped kitchens are more wheelchair accessible because countertop surfaces are more continuous, while a galley kitchen may be the most inappropriate. The advantage of continuous (evenly heighted) countertops is that items can slide between workstations.
In terms of heights, a standard kitchen countertop height is over 90cm. However, wheelchair accessible countertop heights for wheelchair users are typically between 75 cm and 85 cm, depending on the tasks that will be performed. The objective is all about providing sufficient knee-space to accommodate a frontal approach. This is especially important when measuring kitchen sinks.
When it comes to appliances, kitchen appliances should be carefully selected and located appropriately within the overall kitchen plan. "Side-by-side" refrigerators are most appropriate as you wonít have to reach high for the freezer. But its placement must be carefully considered so as to accommodate both door swings.
Dishwashers are normally located next to the kitchen sink because used water drains through the disposal into the plumbing waste lines, but for disabled access the dishwasher should be located at an open end of a counter, allowing a wheelchair user to pull alongside the unit and easily reach the racks inside.
Stoves often combine with lower ovens, thus prohibiting knee-space. This pushes the case for a separate cooktop, so you can provide knee space below it. Then wall ovens can be mounted at counter height making wheelchair access easier. Furthermore, you will likely need a side-hinged oven door but for this scenario, your kitchen designer will need to discuss spill protection options with you. The lowered door options provide automatic spill protection.
Finally, storage is all about convenience and accommodating lower reach capabilities. Base cabinets with sliding shelves are popular as are Lazy Susan corner cabinets. Overall, careful consideration of cabinetry is required, yet like everything with a kitchen that is designed for special access, the design team at Kitcheners ® will gladly share their expertise with you.