Accessible Kitchen Design

Accessible kitchen design is an important topic that is often misunderstood by design professionals. The following article will look at Accessible, Type A, and Type B residential dwelling unit kitchen design requirements as described by ICC/ANSI A117.1 2003.

Accessible Dwelling Unit Kitchens

Accessible dwelling units are the most readily usable of the three types of dwelling units for people with disabilities. Later when we discuss Type A and Type B dwelling units we will find that kitchen requirements for these units are in the dwelling unit section, specifically 1003 and 1004. The technical requirements for accessible dwelling unit kitchens are located in chapter 8, Section 804 and at least one accessible work surface is required in kitchen in chapter 9, Section 902.

There are five important elements of an accessible unit kitchen.

The first important element is the clearance requirements for pass-through kitchens or U-shaped kitchens.

  • 40 inch required clear width in a pass-through kitchen.
  • 60 inch clear width required in a u-shaped kitchen.

It is very important to note that the clear width for both designs should be measured from opposing cabinets, countertops, or appliances (which ever projects furthest into the clear width).

Designers should pay special attentions to appliances that might not be selected at early stages of the design process.

The second important element in an accessible kitchen is the work surface. Generally the countertops can be positioned as high as 36 inches above the finish floor. However a 30 inch wide section of counter space or work surface must be provided 28 inches to 34 inches above the finish floor. It should not be obstructed by a base cabinet to allow for the knee and toe clearance of a forward approach.

Similar to the accessible work surface, the third element is an accessible sink. The sink should be located 28 inches to 34 inches above the finish floor. It should not be obstructed by a base cabinet to allow for the knee and toe clearance of a forward approach. Insure that water and drain pies are insulated or protected.

The fourth element of an accessible kitchen is often missed. Accessible Unit kitchens require that 50 percent of all shelf space within cabinets be accessible. This means shelf space must be within one of the two reach ranges specified in ANSI section 308. Pay special attention to obstructed reach ranges. Since most kitchen shelving is obstructed by base cabinets and countertops, most accessible unit kitchen storage is required to be lower than 46 inches above the finish floor. The 50% requirement is removed in the 2010 edition of A117.1.

The fifth element of an accessible kitchen is the appliances. All appliances must have a clear floor space of 30 inches by 48 inches positioned for forward approach on the appliance. Dishwashers can have the clear floor space positioned adjacent to the open door (the clear floor space can be shared with the clear floor space of the sink).

Only cooktops are required to provide a 30 inch by 48 inch forward approach. Refrigerators and freezers must have either a forward or a parallel clear floor space with at least 50 percent of storage space provided below 54 inches above the finish floor.

Type A Dwelling Unit Kitchens

Type A dwelling units are slightly less accessible than an Accessible Dwelling Unit but do have similar requirements for kitchen design. The most five most important elements can be found in the 1003 section of ICC/ANSI A117.1, 2003.

The clearance requirements for pass-through and U-shaped kitchens are the same as described for Accessible Units above.

  • 40 inch required clear width in a pass-through kitchen.
  • 60 inch clear width required in a u-shaped kitchen.

The next important element in a Type A kitchen is the work surface. A 30 inch section of accessible counter space is required to be provided. This counter space should be located no more than 34 inches above the finish floor. Unlike the accessible counter space requirement in Accessible Unit kitchens, however, this accessible space can be an adaptable feature. This means that cabinetry is permitted under this work surface that can easily be removed without the removal or replacement of the work surface itself. Extending the finish floor material under the work surface and finishing the wall behind it is also required.

Similarly an accessible sink is also required to be located no more than 34 inches above the finish floor. Like the work surface removable base cabinets are allowed under the sink assuming it can be easily removed and the floor and wall are finished as described for work surfaces.

The fourth element of an accessible kitchen is accessibility to cabinets and storage space. A clear floor space of 48 inches by 30 inches positioned for either a parallel or a forward approach is required to be provided at all kitchen cabinets. However reach ranges for shelving is not specified.

The fifth element of an accessible kitchen is the appliances. All appliances must have a clear floor space of 30 inches by 48 inches positioned for forward or parallel approach. Dishwashers are permitted to have the clear floor space positioned adjacent to the open door (the clear floor space can be shared with the clear floor space of the sink). Only cooktops can be provided with a clear floor space that provides a forward approach. Refrigerators and freezers must have either a forward or a parallel clear floor space with at least 50 percent of storage space provided below 54 inches above the finish floor.

Type B Dwelling Unit Kitchens

The Type B dwelling unit requirements are a safe harbor for compliance with the Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines. They do offer some level of accessibility, however only three accessible elements are required. Those three elements can be found in the 1003 section of ICC/ANSI A117.1, 2003.

The clearance requirements for pass-through and U-shaped kitchens are the same as described for Accessible and Type A Units above.

  • 40 inch required clear width in a pass-through kitchen.
  • 60 inch clear width required in a u-shaped kitchen.

Accessible work surfaces as described in Accessible Units kitchens and Type A Units kitchens are not required in Type B Unit kitchens.

Similarly an accessible sink is also not required. While a forward approach to the sink is permitted, only a parallel approach is required.

Lastly Type B kitchens do require some level of accessibility at appliances. All appliances must have a 30 inch by 48 inch clear floor space positioned for parallel approach centered on the appliance. Dishwashers can have the clear floor space positioned adjacent to the open door (the clear floor space can be shared with the clear floor space of the sink). Cooktops, ovens, refrigerators, and Freezers can be provided with a clear floor space for either a forward or parallel approach.

Often, kitchen designs lack some of these important elements. To ensure the correct kitchen is design is included in the applicable unit, contact Accessibility Services at 1-800-404-2898 ext 7505.

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Code Source: Accessibility
With this ICC resource readers can learn to translate key accessibility requirements into clear, understandable and easily applicable explanations.
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