Making your kitchen accessible to all

There are many reasons why you might need to think about making your kitchen more accessible to wheelchair users or to people with other disabilities, such as if you run a community facility or want to cater for a family member.

Whatever the motive, there are now some great ideas out there for making your kitchen more welcoming and user friendly:

Personal planning

An accessible kitchen should be designed around the individual, not just for any current needs and requirements, but also to accommodate for any foreseeable issues that may arise.

One of the best ways to do this is to get help from an occupational therapist or a kitchen designer with experience in this field. Both will be able to advise you on how best to use the space you have, what appliances to consider, and how to plan well for the future.

Mobility

Designing your kitchen around someone’s physical range is really important. People who have reduced mobility may benefit from a galley-style kitchen, where they can use the worktops on either side for support. This can be enhanced with rails and bannisters that can be attached to the units, helping people with poor balance to feel more stable.

Wheelchair users may need extra floor space, and you will also want to consider the height of worktops and appliances. These can either be fixed at a lower height, or if the kitchen is shared with other users, ‘rise and fall’ units can be used, which can be adjusted for each individual. Similarly, choosing safe hobs is important, and wheelchair users might appreciate flameless induction hobs, which offer the speed of cooking on gas without the risk of having to lean over naked flames.

Reduced grip

Many people with difficulties holding objects find that even very small adjustments can make a big difference to how easy their kitchen is to use. Changing fittings such as cabinet handles and taps can make matters much more straightforward, and there are now dozens of specially designed utensils available for people with reduced grip.

Visual problems

Modern technology allows surfaces to be given a light reflective value (LRV). Using these ratings, it is possible to choose worktops that contrast more with one another, and are therefore easier to distinguish between for people with poor vision.

This contrast allows those with reduced sight to feel more confident in their kitchens, particularly if lighting in the room has also been optimised.

Accessible kitchens can now be installed at comparable prices to standard cooking spaces, meaning that adapting your kitchen for changing needs is both achievable and affordable.

Posted by Peter
February 16, 2015
Features

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