Assistive Technology: Kitchen

barrier free kitchen

Lower counter tops with cutouts underneath allow wheelchair access and puts every item within easy reach.

canned goods drawer

Laying canned goods in a drawer keeps them within easy reach, and makes each item easier to pick up.


Burner controls are places at the front of the stove top, large and easy to use.

dishwasher closeup

Pull-out dishwasher not only matches the cabinetry, but makes it easy to do the dishes!


Front-loading washer placed on a raised platform make laundry very simple.

The kitchen is usually one of the most lived-in rooms in the house, where cooking, eating, cleaning and entertaining can all take place. Because of the potential for burns, spills and fires, you should ask these questions about kitchen modifications.

Do shelves roll out to minimize bending?

Is there adequate storage space? If not, you may want to modify a broom closet into an easily accessible pantry.

Does at least one shelf have cutouts that can hold bowls securely for one-handed stirring, at a level convenient to a person who is seated?

Is there a scorch-proof shelf near the oven?

Is lighting adequate and directed over the work areas?

Do kitchen utensils have easy-grip handles?

Is the sink easily accessible? Some sinks have sloped fronts so that dishes can be slid into them. In addition, long-handled lever faucets and spray nozzles simplify dish washing.

Does the refrigerator have a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer setup or a freezer on the bottom for easy access?

Are burner controls mounted on the front of the stove to eliminate the risk of burns from reaching over a heating element?

Are fire extinguishers reachable, lightweight, easy-to-use and located away from the oven?

Do dishwashers, microwaves, washers and dryers have adequate labels for their settings? Some manufacturers will provide Braille or tactile labels, or customized knob turners upon request.

Besides these significant modifications, the following tricks of the trade allow easier maneuvering in the kitchen.

A small mirror mounted over the range allows seated cooks to see into the pans on back burners.

Unbreakable glass pots let seated cooks see how the food is cooking.

Clothes pins attached to burner knobs can make turning easier.
An old-fashioned potato masher or slotted spoon can be used to turn knobs on a clothes dryer.

Tongs can help remove cans or boxes from cabinet and refrigerator shelves.