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How to make a kitchen accessible

Accessible kitchen
A microwave at a good height for a wheelchair.

Many people with disabilities including senior citizens enjoy cooking. The need for accessible kitchens has increased as more people retire.

Making a commercial kitchen accessible can help people with disabilities to get jobs.

Counter tops and shelves

It is good if counter tops are between 28 and 32 inches above the floor and are at least 36" wide. To allow a wheelchair to fit under it the area beneath should be clear and not have cabinets.

You could optionally determine the height based on what the person using it will be comfortable with. Adjustable counter tops are an additional option as long as they have the height range specified previously. If multiple people in wheelchairs are taking turns using the kitchen then adjustable counter tops could be a good idea.

Pull out shelves are an alternative option if you fixed shelves are not convenient. Ensure they're stable.

Kitchen sinks

It's very common to have pipes going underneath a kitchen sink but this could be problematic for a wheelchair user if the design is not optimal. The pipe should be 28" off the ground and at least 8" deep. They should be insulated or enclosed just in case knees touch the pipes when they're hot.

You generally have two options for the faucets. A single lever faucet can be a lower priced solution.

There are also touch control faucets which allows people to turn on and off the faucets.

Faucet controls on the side of the sink may make them more accessible to some people.

For easy access to cleaning products you may want the cabinets storing them on both sides of the sink area. The width of the space between the cabinets should be 36 inches at minimum to allow a wheelchair under it.

Kitchen wall cabinets

To allow a wheelchair user to easily reach the items cabinets need to be fairly low.

Electric adjustable cabinets exist and they lower and raise the height of the cabinets. They are usually button operated.

All items that are used regularly by the person with a disability should be placed in a place that they can reach easily. Keep this in mind when you use the kitchen.

Consider accessories to improve the accessibility of the cabinets such as pull down shelves, adjustable shelves, drawer dividers and/or Lazy Susan cabinets. Other accessible cabinet types include full extension drawers and touch-release drawers and doors. There's also swing-up hardware that allow cabinet doors to hinge at top and stay open

You may want to use looped pulls for cabinets. Knobs that you have to turn would be problematic for those with limited hand movement.

Try to put things back in the same place so that people looking for things can be avoided.


Appliances should be 31": to make them accessible for wheelchair users. You may want to raise your dish washer to 8" as they are typically 6" and wheelchair users may struggle.

Appliances should have a maximum opening force of 5 lbs.


You can increase safety by using dials with directional indicators that click into position at each setting.

If that is not possible using bump dots and color marks for the most used spots on dials can make them more accessible to impaired people.

Another option for those with limited finger strength is a touch pad based system.


A side opening oven could be better for direct access if the person using it is in a wheelchair.


A bottom drawer freezer could be good for accessibility.

Door and area

A door width of 36" makes the entry accessible for people in wheelchairs but a width of 42" is even better. I use a wheelchair and would prefer the wider option.

Typically a lever style door handle is considered the most accessible.

You may want to consider a clear swing hinge as this ensures the door doesn't get in the way of the entry to the room.

It's a good idea to place outlets lower, but no lower than 15" off the ground.

It is best to have good task lighting around work areas. Glare free lighting is also helpful.

Switches & thermostats should be installed no higher than 48" to make them accessible to wheelchair users.

You may want to have a number of work areas such as:

  • Baking area
  • Salad counter
  • Children's snack area
  • An area convenient and easy to store groceries

Place the light switches near the entries. If there are multiple entries you may want to look at a multi pole light switch as this allows you to operate the lights from multiple points.

For a pass-through kitchen clearance should be 40" and it should be 60" for a U shaped kitchen.

Transferring food

You may want to consider getting a base cabinet on wheels. This may allow you to transport plates or trays easier.


Tables and chairs

The space should be 54 inches from the wall to a table or counter top.

Tables and chairs are best if they're level and steady.

Straws and cups

Some people need straws. You may want to have a batch of plastic straws. Rewashable silicon straws might be another option.

Easy to grip cups may be a good idea to accommodate people with limited hand mobility.

Color contrasting

To help people with color blindness you may want to color contrast the surfaces with objects such as plates, cups, spoons etc. Surfaces include tables, work areas and the inside of cabinets.

Door levers should also be color contrasted too.

Thanks for readilng

I hope that you have all of the information you need to make a kitchen and dining room accessible.

You can also view our accessibility guide for houses/apartments.


Some of the information was taken from and

This page was originally published at 05/10/2019 01:39:13 UTC

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