Universal Kitchen Design and Planning for the Physically Challenged
Unfortunately there are millions of people who do not have the physical freedom to function in a standard home and kitchen. Special considerations need to be made when planning a kitchen design. Once again Susan Serra, CKD, from thekitchendesigner.org steps in to show us the way.
For those with special needs, a preliminary analysis of the household member(s) needs is critical. For situations in which modifications need to be made to the interior of a home, a joint meeting with all parties, including the contractor and an occupational therapist to the household member with special needs is advisable. A design professional with a CAPS designation (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) awarded by NAHB National Association of Home Builders is verification of completed course work in this area.
It is to everyone’s benefit, and often a strong desire of a household member with special needs, to preserve the homeowner’s independence for as long a period of time as possible. In a situation that includes wheelchair accessibility within a home, adequate space must be provided for wheelchairs to turn, particularly in a bathroom and kitchen, in areas of the home where a hallway and doorways intersect, and to plan for adequate, and smooth flooring materials and transitions inside and outside the home via ramps.
A kitchen design can be accommodated for wheelchair use by mounting appliances at a convenient height, providing areas where the wheelchair can fit under the countertop to allow countertop use, taking care to distribute food, cookware, dishes and utensils in easy to reach areas, special pull down mechanisms for higher storage, among other specialized design elements. In one situation, I recommended a tall window installation, reaching toward the floor, which enabled a wheelchair bound homeowner to enjoy the outdoors at a more convenient level, normal to him.
To remain in one’s home is a number one need and desire, understandably. Every situation is different and requires fresh, and unique, design solutions and recommendations to achieve independent living.