16 ways to make your kitchen more accessible

luxury-kitchens-with-white-cabinets-designApproximately 30 million Americans use wheelchairs, and all of those people and their families need accessible housing. That number will continue to increase as seniors retain independent living in their homes. One important way to increase independent living is making a home accessible, and one room that is especially important to accommodate is the kitchen.

With all the advances in accessible design, a beautiful and efficient kitchen can be designed to be accessible for everyone that lives in a home whether or not they have a disability. Here are a few tips to consider when designing an accessible kitchen for wheelchair users:

  1. Typical countertops are positioned at a height of 36”. To make countertops accessible the work surface should be installed at a 34” height, but ideally you would measure individual comfort ranges to determine the appropriate height for the person using the wheelchair or walker.
  2. Include pull-out shelves in your design — a shelf that comes out of the countertop can provide an easily accessible working space to prepare food.
  3. Kitchen sinks should have an open space beneath them to provide wheelchair or walker accessibility. Knee clearance for a sink needs to be at least 27” high, 8” deep at the knees or 11” deep for children.
  4. Place the drain in the rear of the sink so the piping underneath will not prevent a person in a wheelchair from rolling underneath.
  5. Choose a single lever faucet — they’re more accessible.
  6. Touch control faucets are also available –they allow the user to turn on and off the faucet with one touch.
  7. Installing the faucet to the side of the sink may make it more accessible for some people.
  8. Electric powered adjustable kitchen wall cabinets that lower and raise the cabinet height with a touch of a button are costly, but they can make the cabinets accessible to more users.
  9. Spice racks and cutting boards and other often-used items should be placed within arms reach.
  10. Looped cabinet pulls are easier to use than standard knobs — no need to close your fist or twist, grasp or use pinching motions to use a looped pull.
  11. A 36” wide doorway makes the kitchen accessible for a wheelchair or walker user, but 42” width is more comfortable.
  12. A lever-style handle will make a door much easier to open.
  13. Use swing clear hinges on doors to make traveling through the opening easier.
  14. Raise the dishwasher 6” to 8” off the floor to make the dishwasher accessible from either side and increase access.
  15. Bottom-drawer freezer style refrigerators give wheelchair -users access to the freezer.
  16. Tactile controls such as raised buttons or dials with directional indicators that click into position at each setting can increase safety.

I have the INDATA Project to thank for suggesting devices like the touch control faucets and electric powered adjustable cabinets I mentioned in this post. the Indiana Assistive Technology Act (INDATA) Project started in 2007 when Easter Seals Crossroads partnered with the State of Indiana, Bureau of Rehabilitative Services to increase access and awareness of assistive technology.

As you can tell from this post, there are many ways in which a kitchen can be made accessible for wheelchair users — get cooking!

Here are ways to find, buy or adapt an accessible home.



Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.

  1. Jeff Geleynse Says:

    Hi I have Spina Bifida and have been living alone for 30 year in an accessible wheelchair apartment but am looking for a stove that could be lowers than standard. Jeff G

  2. 8 Ways to Make Your Kitchen more Accessible with Universal Design - Donco Designs Says:

    […] 16 ways to make your kitchen more accessible – Easter Seals […]

  3. Beth Finke Says:

    Oh, I’m sorry to hear this — many of our donors and new friends enjoy receiving our annual Calendar. However, we honor our constituent preferences and will ensure that your wishes are honored.

  4. Joanne West Says:

    I just received in the mail an envelope from Easter Seals-Annual Trussville Area Calendar Campaign with a large, red “REMINDER” written on it. I found this highly offensive. I did NOT request the calendar you sent to me and do not appreciate being dunned for something I did not order. This tactic makes me NOT want to donate to your organization.

Leave a Reply