Creating an accessible kitchen to accommodate for physical limitations presents unique challenges. These challenges, however, are easily solvable by using technology and viewing things from a new perspective.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets guidelines for both commercial and private residential spaces. These Standards for Accessible Design accommodate the needs of people with physical disabilities so they can participate in life as fully, equally, and independently as possible.
As a home remodeler with 15+ years of experience remodeling spaces for people with physical limitations, we know how to improve the quality of life with well-designed spaces.
In this article, you will learn the top 10 ADA-compliant kitchen accessories that will improve independence and make kitchen tasks easier:
(The information in this article was updated on December 26th, 2023.)
1. Install a Pull-Out Pantry
Rather than reaching into your pantry or lower cabinets for items, bringing them toward you is ideal.
Pantries and cabinets with a slide-out/pull-out function will make stored items much more accessible.
A pull-out pantry, such as the one represented below, has rules for ADA compliance. The height of the countertop can not exceed 34” from the floor, and a 9”x 9” toe kick is required to accommodate a wheelchair.
2. Select a Built-In Microwave
Microwaves are typically placed above the stovetop or on the countertop as a separate appliance. For better accessibility, build the microwave into the lower cabinets during your kitchen renovation.
With a pull-out opening that loads from the top or sides, using the microwave will be much easier.
This microwave is well within ADA compliance for reach and operating guidelines.
3. Opt for a Shallow Sink
Using your kitchen sink shouldn’t be a struggle. With a shallow sink, you don’t need to lean to remove plates, cups, and utensils from the bottom. This will prevent frustration and physical pain over time.
ADA guidelines for residential kitchen sinks provide clear size requirements to ensure your kitchen sink will accommodate a wheelchair.
4. Choose Cabinet Drawers Over Doors
For people with physical limitations or those who require the use of a wheelchair, lower cabinets with a drawer-style opening are better than a swinging door.
The pulling mechanism is easier to work and removes the need to reach for items at the back of the cabinet.
5. Select a Touchless Faucet
While faucets with a single arm are ADA-compliant, a touchless faucet is even easier to use.
Those few extra inches that you don’t have to reach for will make a difference, especially if you’re using your faucet every day.
To improve your experience, consider adding a moveable faucet head to better manipulate water flow and reduce the need to reach out.
6. Install an Induction Stove
Compared to a conventional gas or electric stove that is hot to the touch, induction only heats certain types of metal. This is a tremendous safety accessory for anyone. If your skin accidentally touches the stovetop while it’s on, it will not burn you.
Metals compatible with induction stoves include:
Enameled cast iron
Metals NOT compatible with induction stoves include:
7. Opt for an Auto Shut-Off Stove/Oven
To further enhance your safety, consider getting a stove/oven that will automatically shut off after it’s been left on for a certain amount of time.
This will reduce your overall energy consumption as well as make your kitchen safer.
8. Include Under Cabinet Lighting
Adding lights under your upper kitchen cabinets is a great ADA kitchen accessory because it will allow you to see better while you’re working: cutting vegetables, reading recipes, or performing other cooking tasks.
9. Choose Glass Fronts for Upper Cabinets
Upper cabinets with glass fronts will allow you to see what is inside before taking the time and effort to get the item you want.
Upper cabinets are available as well with a pull-down function so you can retrieve items from a sitting position.
10. Motion-Activated Lights
For people with physical limitations, turning on a light switch in the pitch dark can be a dangerous task. Motion-activated lights reduce that risk and improve day-to-day functionality.
Next Steps for Adding ADA-Compliant Kitchen Appliances
Using your kitchen every day shouldn’t be a struggle. A kitchen that incorporates the top 10 ADA-compliant accessories described in this article will improve your ability to participate in life as fully, equally, and independently as possible.
Redesigning homes to improve your quality of life is our goal. We understand the importance of having your personal space formatted specifically to meet your needs.
Now that you know more about the best kitchen remodeling tips for ADA-living, let's discover the costs, timeline, and remodeling partner selection process involved for the next steps to your project:
Isabelle has worked at Custom Built for 7 years, learning the Custom Built Systems from all sides. She has become an industry advisor in the customer relations software HubSpot, has a keen talent for elements of design, and currently leads the marketing team under the innovative TAYA system.