If you have elderly or disabled family members in your house who is wheelchair bound and needs help with even simple things like making a cup of coffee, then you should consider modifying your kitchen to suit the special requirements of such members. This will make them more independent as they will no longer need your assistance to work their way around the kitchen. Wheelchair accessible kitchens can significantly improve the lifestyle of the physically challenged persons.
Access to the kitchen and the space inside
The first thing you need to consider is the doorway to the kitchen. The kitchen door should be at least 32 inches wide for an average wheelchair to pass through. A wide entrance makes sure that a wheelchair can get through with ease. But a wide doorway will not be of much use if space inside the kitchen is restricted. Limited space inside the kitchen will make it difficult for your wheelchair bound family member to move around.
You will have to ensure that each of the kitchen appliances is at a distance of at least 30 to 48 inches from the other and that there is adequate movement space that allows for easy maneuverability of the wheelchair. Wheelchair accessible kitchens should be spacious enough to allow wheelchairs to move freely.
The sink area
Although sufficient moving space is a prerequisite for a wheelchair friendly kitchen, your task does not get over with that. You also need to concentrate on the sink. Sink is one of the most problematic kitchen areas when it comes to people using a wheelchair. You need to get your sink designed in a way that it is shallow, so that a person on a wheelchair can easily access it. If you can’t find a shallow sink, then you should get a barrier free sink.
The kitchen counter
Even if you have a shallow or a barrier free sink, it might not be very useful if it is placed on a conventional kitchen counter. That is, if your sink is placed on a high raised counter, it won’t be accessible by a person in a wheelchair. Conventional counters generally have a cabinet space under the sink, which makes it difficult for a person in a wheel chair to access the sink. He would need space to adjust his knees while washing the dishes. A wheelchair friendly kitchen should ideally have a counter with adequate knee space below.
Reaching the faucets of the sink
A person sitting in a wheelchair might find it difficult to access the faucets on the sink. You can solve this problem by making use of lever handles that can be adjusted. These lever handles can be fixed with the faucet so that they can extend forward from back of the sink. This would make the faucets easily accessible.
Drop down door appliances
If your kitchen has appliances that have a drop down door, you need to make sure that they are accessible from both sides. A person in a wheelchair should be able to operate the appliance from the either side of the door. Ideally, wheelchair accessible kitchens should have appliances with a side opening door.