Kitchen Standards for Wheelchair Users
In this metric data post we will be looking at standard kitchen layouts and sizes for wheelchair users.
We explore accessible kitchen information for units, appliances, layouts and more.
The sizes below are suggestions, and of course, kitchens come in many different sizes – but this is a good starting point and guide. Be sure to check the Building Regulation Approved Documents and other available guides for more information.
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General Design Considerations
The kitchen should be located on the entrance storey of the dwelling. The kitchen and dining area should be combined to allow for ease of access for a wheelchair user. This avoids the need to pass through doors whilst carrying trays, plates, drinks or hot items. If this is not possible the dining area must be in close proximity to the kitchen and have easy access between the two rooms.
Kitchens must not be part of the circulation route of the dwelling. This means that any doors to and from the kitchen must not interrupt the continuous worktop and general usability of the space.
It is important the kitchen includes a continuous section of worktop, appliances and units, arranged in such a way to avoid the need to cross the space, or for someone to have to carry hot foods or liquids from one worktop to another. The best way to achieve this is by using a U-shape or L-shape layout so that containers and items can slide from hob to sink. A wheelchair user should not have to carry hot or heavy items across an open space or doorway.
It is important to provide between 1500mm – 1800mm between opposing kitchen units to allow space for movement between the worktops. Note that 1200mm will allow one person to open a cupboard or drawer, while 1500mm will allow two people to work back to back – aim for a larger width wherever possible.
Consider that the kitchen may be used by a wheelchair user, family member, carer and therefore the design needs to be flexible to the different users needs. The layout design should try to maximise the activities that can be carried out from one position, allowing a wheelchair user to carry out tasks without excess manoeuvring and repositioning.
Work surfaces should incorporate the hob and sink on the same run of worktop. According to the Building Regulations Approved Document Part M, the minimum worktop length for a 2 bed space dwelling is 6130mm, for 3/4 bedspace 6530mm. 5 bed space dwellings to have a minimum 7430mm worktop length and 6-8 bedspace 8530mm worktop.
The worktop should be height adjustable with clear leg space underneath. This will enable a wheelchair user to work in the space but also allow someone standing to use the space too. The height can be adjusted between 760mm and 900mm. At least 300mm of worktop should be provided either side of the hob and sink, and to one side of the oven 400mm worktop space. Hobs and sinks with knee space underneath must be insulated on the underside.
Pull out boards adjacent to hobs, ovens or refrigerators can be a useful addition if space is limited to provide extra work surface space.
Knee space under the worktop should be clear and measure 700mm high, 600mm deep and 800mm wide.
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The kitchen sink should be shallow enough to provide leg space underneath, with all trap and drainage to the back of the sink to ensure a clear space. The sink should be insulated on the underside.
Units and storage
By providing clear space under the worktops for access, this can often reduce available space for storage units under the work surface. It is important to consider a wheelchair user may have difficulty accessing storage too high or too low accessible solutions must be incorporated.
Base units can incorporate pull out drawers or swing out shelves both that avoid the need for a person to bend and reach into below counter cupboards with difficulty.
Wall units can incorporate pull down baskets or shelves or include electric rise and fall units. Wall units should be fitted 350mm above standard worktop height which will allow access to lower shelves.
Handles should be easy to grip, avoid small knob handles or recessed pulls as these can be difficult for people to use.
Hinged cupboards should be able to open to 180 degrees so that the door does not obstruct the access and manoeuvring space.
Plinths to the base units must be 250mm above floor level and a depth of 150mm for the foot space for a wheelchair footrest.
The oven should be contained in a tall housing unit at a height the oven door can be opened safely above a wheelchair users knees without touching them (about 760mm above floor level). A heat resistant workspace should be provided to one or both sides of the oven so that oven dishes can easily be transferred to the worktop.
The oven should have a side hung door, or preferably a pull down door that slides away into the base of the oven. Freestanding or under worktop ovens should be avoided as there is more risk of burns when bending and reaching to a low level oven.
The hob should be fitted flush to the work surface to allow a wheelchair user to slide the pans across the worktop to the hob. Gas hobs are not generally recommended as they increase risk of burns and accidents due to the live flame and raised metal pan supports. Induction hobs are the best option.
Hob controls should be easy to access and operate, located at the front of the unit.
The extractor hood controls need to be accessible, a remotely operated extractor fan is a good option.
Fridge, freezers and dishwashers should be integrated in order to bring them to a suitable height and allow convenient access. A 200mm plinth should be installed to give adequate toe space so that the appliances are more accessible.