Universal Design ADA Kitchen Cabinets- What are accessible kitchen cabinets and where do you find them?

Home modifications by occupational therapist (OT) based on principles of universal design and accessibility.

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.

Designing a kitchen for wheelchair accessibility requires proper turn radii, appliances, flooring etc. but what about cabinets? What do you choose standard cabinets, universal design cabinets, automated cabinets?

Where do you get universal cabinets?

Click 'Read More' for lowdown on standard vs universal cabinets.

Standard cabinets-obviously most popular.

  • Base Cabinet: 34 1/2" tall with counter top the cabinet is approximately 36" from finished floor.
  • Base cabinet 24" deep.
  • Base cabinet toe kick 4" high and 4" deep.

Universal Design Cabinets.
  • Base cabinet 32 1/2" tall with counter top the cabinet is approximately 34 1/2" from finished floor.
  • Base cabinet 23 1/2" deep.
  • Base cabinet toe kick 8 1/2" high and 6" deep.
  • Upper cabinets to be mounted 48" above finished floor.

Automated Cabinets.
  • Automated cabinets can be adjusted to different heights to accommodate different needs.
  • More pricey than the average joe can afford.
Great site to see a fully accessible universal design kitchen is: http://www.handicapped-accessible-kitchens.com/index.htm

Raised dishwasher, Kraftmaid Passport Series, sold at Lowes.

        Where do you get universal
        design cabinets?:
  • Any semi-custom or custom cabinet design distributor company can make universal design cabinets. There are no code requirements for universal design of kitchen for private single-family homes.
  • Most builders will alter off-the-shelf cabinets to be accessible, which allows for almost any style of cabinetry.

Tambour Storage, Kraftmaid Passport Series, sold at Lowes.

How you find universal design cabinets on the web (keywords.)

Keywords: handicap cabinets, handicap kitchen cabinets, universal design for cabinets, universal design for kitchen cabinets, handicap accessible cabinets, handicap accessible kitchen cabinets.

Price ranges (generally and compared to standard cabinetry)

Anticipate paying $100-200 more per cabinet


How close can a wheelchair user get to a standard base
cabinet compared to a universal design base cabinet?

A wheelchair can get 5" closer to a universal design cabinet than a standard cabinet when approaching from the front. The taller/deeper kick plate allows for closer front approach without damaging the face of the cabinet.

Click here to see pgs 114-116 of ADA standards for obstruction reach for counters

            Elevated Toe Kick
The 9-inch by 6-inch. toe kick offers space for wheelchairs and mobility assistive devices and raises base cabinets to a comfortable height. Kraftmaid Passport Series sold at Lowes.

What kinds of doors can go in front of things like roll under sinks so that you don't have to see the roll under space when it isn't being used
  • Swiveling cabinet doors under the cooktop fold out of the way, providing valuable knee space. (GE)

Pull-Out Table
This table, Kraftmaid sold at Lowes, fully extends to make eating and working more accessible.


Universal Designs said...

Thanks for sharing this post. These accessible kitchen cabinets are really very amazing and this post is rally very informative for those searching best alternates for disabled people.

Anonymous said...

I have a disable customer that wishes to leave his standard cabinets intact for resale. Is there any companies 0ut there that make hardware that can be installed in standard upper or base cabs thanks Peter

Karen Koch said...

Yes Peter, Rev-a-shelf has brackets for the upper cabinets that can be installed and uninstalled easily that make the shelves of the upper cabinets pull-down cabinets.

Pull-out shelving for the base will make the cabinetry more accessible and is convenient for abled and disabled. You can make a roll under sink out of the existing base cabinet under the sink by taking out the base cabinet and installing flipper-style doors so the doors can be opened to allow wheelchair access under the sink and closed to look like regular cabinets. If the person sells the house a base can always be installed under the doors so objects in the cupboard aren't visable, if that makes sense.

If there is anything more I can do to help you can email me at: service@functionalhomes.net.

Good luck,

Anonymous said...

Most ADA cabinets are 32 1/2" tall and with counter tops height is 34 1/2". Inspectors are turning down jobs because the guidelines state no more than 34" total. How can this be, when most all cabinet manufacturers make their cabinets 32 1/2" tall? The rules call for no more than 34" counter top height.