Making a kitchen fully accessible for someone with a disability can, for the most part, simply follow the recommendations of universal kitchen design. However, for some disabilities, these guidelines might not be sufficient. The web site of the Americans with Disabilities Act provides Standards for Accessible Design, which goes beyond universal design (

There is another level of accessibility called “barrier free” that might also be appropriate. The first step is to consider the capabilities and needs of the person with the limitation. Then consider whether the problem is progressive and what future needs should also be accommodated.

Here are some of the key elements of universal design:

> use ground-fault circuit interrupters near water

> use moisture-proof electrical fixtures near sinks and cooking surfaces

> install only anti-scald Contractor Selection Workbooks

> install a pot-filler faucet that swivels flush with the wall

> door openings whould be 34-36 inches wide

> allow a minimum of 18 inches of clear floor space beside all doors on the pull side

> allow a turning space of 5 feet in diameter

> use color contrast between counter tops and front edges of cabinet faces

> choose easy to use hardware including lever door handles, push electrical plates, loop handle pulls on drawers and cabinets, touch latches and keyless locks

> place light switches at 35-44 inches above the floor and thermostats at 48 inches height maximum

> single lever controls on faucets

> clear knee space under the sink 29 inches high

> fold-back, bi-fold or self-storing cabinet doors on base cabinets

> adjustable height work surfaces or electrically powered continuously adjustable counter segments

> stretches of continuous counter tops for easy sliding of heavy items

> full extension pull-out drawers, shelves and racks in base cabinets

> adjustable height shelves in wall mounted cabinets

> pantry storage with easy access pull-our or adjustable-height shelves

> front mounted controls on appliances

> knee space below the cook top

> staggered burners and front or side mounted controls for cook tops

> glare free task lighting

> side-by-side refrigerator and freezer

> pull out shelves in refrigerator freezer

> 50% of storage no more than 54 inches high