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This article describes the layout and specifications for accessible kitchens and kitchen work spaces.
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This article series discusses current best design practices for kitchens and bathrooms, including layout, clearances, work space, and accessible kitchen and bathroom layout, clearances, turning space, grab bars, controls, etc. We include advice on choosing and installing kitchen countertops, cabinets, and kitchen or bathroom flooring, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures and fixture controls such as faucets. A list of kitchen and bath product manufactures and sources is included.
This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons. If your access requirements include wheelchair ramps to building entrances, also see Ramps, access.
To make a kitchen fully functional for wheelchair users and other seated occupants requires simple commonsense changes, like placing knobs within reach, as well as more significant changes, such as lowering counters and providing knee space below. The guidelines below, based on ANSI (American National Standards Institute) A117.1 standards, are a good starting point in design, but they should be tailored to the size, reach, and specific capabilities of the occupants.
Clear space at doorways and passageways must be at least 32 inches wide and no more than 24 inches long in the direction of travel. Eliminate any thresholds at doorways.
Wherever possible, provide knee space for a seated user below or adjacent to sinks, cooktops, ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators, and ovens.
a seated user, below-counter knee space should be a
minimum of 30 inches wide, 27 inches high in front, and
19 inches deep, with a minimum 9-inch-high toe space,
which will accommodate most wheelchair footrests.
Protect users from exposed pipes and mechanicals with a protective panel and insulation (Figure 6-12 above).
he optimal height for most seated occupants at counters, sinks, and cooktops is about 32 inches and should be no higher than 34 inches.
Controls, handles, and door and drawer pulls should be operable with one hand, require minimal strength, and not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrists. Lever-action handles work well for doors and faucets. A simple test is to try to operate the controls with a closed fist.
Mount wall cabinet doors at the bottom of the cabinets and base cabinet pulls at the top of the cabinets.
Use a shallow sink mounted at 32 to 34 inches (32 preferred) with the drain in the rear so it does not interfere with knee space (Figure 6-15 below). The garbage disposal must also be offset so it does not interfere with knee space. A tall faucet and pullout spray attachment are recommended to simplify work at the sink. Locate the dishwasher adjacent to the sink or no more than 12 inches away.
Lighting levels should be up to twice normal levels. Using light-colored floors, walls, ceilings, and counters will help keep all areas well illuminated. Light colors on the insides of cabinets and drawers will help make items more visible.
If possible, place the cooktop and sink on the same wall so users do not have to carry heavy pots across the room. Electric cooktops with a smooth surface and controls on the front work best so the user does not have to reach over the top. Look for units with staggered burners for easier access to back burners.
Use a separate wall-mounted oven, not an under-counter design. An oven with a side-hinged door rather than the usual pull-down style works well.
Side-by-side units with doors that swing back a full 180 degrees are preferable to up-and-down models. Provide at least 18 inches of counter space adjacent to the refrigerator.
-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.
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