Do you have ADA handicap compliant cabinets?
When designing kitchens, I am constantly mindful of ADA compliance because you need to consider accessibility during this phase of the project. Making a kitchen fully functional for wheelchair access and other seated occupants requires simple common sense planning, like placing knobs within reach, counter height, and under cabinet clearance. So let’s look at some potential aspects of ADA compliance that may be called for in your future projects.
Clear space at doorways and passageways must be at least 32 inches wide and no more than 24 inches long in the direction of travel. Eliminate any thresholds at doorways. The minimum work aisle with counters or appliances on both sides should be 40 inches. Walkways with counters or appliances on only one side can be 36 inches wide, but if a walkway turns a corner, one leg of the walkway space should be widened to 42 inches for a wheelchair to make the turn.
From a table or eating counter to a wall, leave 54 inches for wheelchair access. In a U-shaped kitchen the minimum clearance between counters is 60 inches.
Wherever possible, provide knee space for a seated user below or adjacent to sinks, cooktops, ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators, and ovens. To accommodate a seated user, below-counter knee space should be a minimum of 30 inches wide, 27 inches high in front, and 19 inches deep, with a minimum 9-inch-high toe space, which will accommodate most wheelchair footrests.
To make work centers universally accessible, provide a clear floor space of 30×48 inches or 48×30 inches, centered in front of the sink, dishwasher, cooktop, oven, and refrigerator. In an accessible (or other) kitchen design layout, clear floor spaces for different work areas may overlap, and the long dimension can include up to 19 inches deep of knee space below counters. The optimal height for most seated occupants at counters, sinks, and cooktops is about 32 inches and should be no higher than 34 inches.
Most seated users in a kitchen can fully reach shelving located from 15 to 48 inches high. Storage located from about 20 to 44 inches is considered optimal for accessible kitchen designs. In an ADA accessible-designed kitchen you should use open shelving, shelf racks on pantry doors, and drawers or roll-out shelving for easy access.
Controls, handles, door, and drawer pulls should be operable with one hand. They should require minimal strength and not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrists. Lever-action handles work well for doors and faucets. A simple test is to try to operate the controls with a closed fist. Mount wall cabinet doors at the bottom of the cabinets and base cabinet pulls at the top of the cabinets.
Use a shallow sink mounted at 32 to 34 inches (32 preferred) with the drain in the rear so it does not interfere with knee space. The garbage disposal must also be offset so it does not interfere with knee space. A tall faucet and pullout spray attachment are recommended to simplify work at the sink. Locate the dishwasher adjacent to the sink or no more than 12 inches away.
If possible, place the cooktop and sink on the same wall so users do not have to carry heavy pots across the room. Electric cooktops with a smooth surface and controls on the front work best so the user does not have to reach over the top. Look for units with staggered burners for easier access to back burners.
Use a separate wall-mounted oven, not an under-counter design. An oven with a side-hinged door rather than the usual pull-down style works well. Side-by-side units with doors that swing back a full 180 degrees are preferable to up-and-down models. Provide at least 18 inches of counter space adjacent to the refrigerator.
Kitchen countertop access: the 30″ clearance given by ADA will be inadequate for power wheelchair users whose chair controls need more under-counter clearance height for armrests and in some cases joystick controls. (33″ or more of floor to under-countertop clearance space may be needed)
So In closing, being familiar with ADA Compliance can be extremely valuable to your client’s needs and help build a comfortable environment for them to maneuver.