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Renovating Your Kitchen? 3 Strategies To Make Your Benchtop Accessible For People With Disabilities

by Carolyn Fox

Being in a wheelchair doesn't mean that people shouldn't be able to move around. If someone in your family is in a wheelchair, you'll know how important it is to make your living space accessible. Remodelling your kitchen for wheelchair friendliness may be imperative to help the person use it without any trouble. Follow these strategies to make your kitchen benchtop accessible for people with disabilities.

Lower The Benchtop Height To Suit The Elevation Of A Wheelchair

Most standard kitchen benchtops are assumed to be approximately between 850 mm and 1050 mm in height for people standing during cooking and food preparation. For a person in a wheelchair, you may want to reduce the height to an elevation that works comfortably for them. There's no standard height for wheelchairs because this depends entirely on its size and the comfort of the person in it. In this case, you will need to customise the benchtop height for the person with the disability, but you can certainly expect it to be lower than standard kitchen benchtop heights.  

Open Up The Area Below The Benchtop To Accommodate Wheelchair Legroom

If you're working on a benchtop, the idea of cupboards below seems convenient. But for the person in the wheelchair, these cabinets can be a real hindrance to their ability to use the benchtop comfortably because there simply isn't enough space to accommodate their legs. To make it more convenient, consider eliminating cupboards and cabinets from the area below benchtops, so that their legs can sit comfortably under them while they prepare food in the kitchen. If you need to have storage for utensils and food items, consider a small pullout pantry in a corner area near your benchtop, so that it doesn't hamper movement ability of the person in the wheelchair.

Create Uninterrupted Workspace On The Benchtop

A kitchen benchtop typically has multiple elements associated with it –– food preparation, food storage, kitchen sinks and cooktops. You need to ensure that there is an uninterrupted workspace between all these elements to ensure that the person can utilise them seamlessly. For instance, uninterrupted flow between the food prep area and cooktop allows the person to slide the food over towards the hot pan instead of carrying it over. This can make it easier because the person doesn't have to worry about navigating the wheelchair and carrying food towards the cooktop.

These thoughtful remodelling considerations can drastically enhance comfort for people with disabilities when working in the kitchens.