People with disabilities can have a hard time navigating around the kitchen, especially in a wheelchair. Make food preparation and cleanup easier by installing some specially designed equipment. Even small, handheld tools can improve accessibility. Some types of equipment are simple and inexpensive, but others require renovations to install.
Hand-operated "grabbing" tools make the kitchen much more user-friendly for someone in a wheelchair. These extension tools have a clamp on one end that works by squeezing a handle on the other end, allowing someone in a wheelchair to reach items in upper cabinets. This simple but incredibly useful piece of equipment is relatively inexpensive and available in many super-centers and hardware stores.
Storage accessories, such as carousels inside cabinets and "blind corner" shelving, make it much simpler to reach items that would otherwise be inaccessible at the back of the cabinets. Slide-out shelves, pull-down baskets and appliance carriers are just a few types of specialty cabinet hardware available to improve accessibility with both wall and base cabinets.
A tray with a beanbag base that can be held on the lap is a handy piece of kitchen equipment for anyone preparing food in a seated position. The beanbag base conforms to the users' lap, helping to stabilize plates, food and glasses for transportation to and from the eating area.
A stove top is another item to consider. It's difficult to lift pots and pans off a stove from a wheelchair. A one-piece, flush stove top allows pots and pans to slide off the stove instead of being lifted allowing for safer removal of hot items. Look for a stove with the controls on the front. A side-by-side refrigerator is also helpful; often-used food items can be stored on the lower shelves and in the doors.
A sink installed lower than usual, and with no cabinet underneath, allows a person using a wheelchair to move up close to the sink. Single-lever faucets and a pot sprayer on the side of the sink are helpful. It is simpler to wash dishes if the sink is fairly shallow.
Small appliances such as a microwave oven, toaster, blender and food processor should be on a low countertop or accessible open shelves. A kitchen caddy on wheels can also solve the problem of unreachable appliances. For a finishing touch, install a wall-mounted can opener at the appropriate height.
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