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ADA Handicap Kitchen Requirements: A Comprehensive Guide

Many people with disabilities are not able to enjoy the same quality of life as those without. This is because they lack access to handicap-accessible kitchens and bathrooms.

There are only a few ADA guidelines covering kitchen design, which means that most people have to settle for kitchens that are difficult or impossible to use by wheelchair users. 

This article provides comprehensive guidance on building an accessible kitchen from scratch, including detailed instructions about what needs to be done for it to meet ADA standards. It also offers solutions for common problems such as doorways, sinks and faucets, countertops, cabinets, and drawers, etc., so you can get your dream kitchen while still complying with the law!

Let’s dive in and explore what you need to know about ADA kitchen requirements!

What is ADA Handicap Kitchen Design?

A handicap kitchen complies with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA mandates that all kitchens and bathrooms must be accessible to people in wheelchairs.

The rules for building a wheelchair-accessible bathroom are different from those for an accessible kitchen, but there’s still some overlap between them. Kitchen accessibility is mostly about making sure that the doors and cabinets are wide enough for wheelchair users, while bathroom accessibility focuses on grab bars, toilets with handrails, etc.

Bathroom requirements also include ensuring that there’s at least one sink in both bathrooms. Kitchen countertops must be no higher than 34 inches from floor level to clear a wheelchair user’s knees. Let’s explore the rules in more detail!

Things to be considered:

Following are some of the things to be considered when designing an ADA-compliant kitchen.


You need a countertop that is no higher than 34 inches from floor level for wheelchair users – and most people with disabilities cannot reach counters at this height, so you’ll have to lift them if they’re too high! The good news is that it’s easy and inexpensive to do. You can use blocks or risers beneath existing counters or apply a special adhesive foam tape on top of the counter surface. Both methods will raise your countertops by one inch to comply with ADA requirements without affecting their overall appearance.


Cabinet height should be no more than 27 inches from the floor. This can be achieved by installing lower-mounted cabinets or using adjustable shelves placed at a sitting person’s eye level. You need to install cabinet handles with grab bars to make them easier for wheelchair users and people with mobility issues to use. The front of your cabinets must have at least 12 inches worth of space between its edges and any adjacent countertops, so there is enough room for people who need assistance opening doors!


The sink must be no higher than 17 inches from the floor, and it should have a single-lever faucet because this is easier for people with disabilities. The hot water supply line needs to be set at 48 inches above the ground – or as close to that height as possible! Be careful of sinks that are too deep, though; ADA guidelines require you to install levelers for your cabinets not to shift if someone bumps them while seated on their wheelchair. This means they need a bottom shelf, so there’s enough space below them before the countertop starts (this will affect how much usable storage space you’ll get).


The minimum width for a doorway is 32 inches. You will need to install an automatic door opener if your doors are more than 36 inches wide or have knobs instead of handles, and they must be easy for people in wheelchairs to use!

Cabinet Drawers

Drawer handles must be no higher than 15 inches from the top of the drawer so people can pull them open without reaching up with their hands. The bottom edge should not exceed 24 inches if it’s possible to avoid this.


The ADA recommends you use a smooth, stable, slip-resistant floor covering that’s easy to clean. This is especially important in kitchens because of the wet conditions and the risk for accidents! Tile or vinyl are excellent choices that will offer good traction while still being washable with water and common household cleaners.


ADA recommendations specify that you should have at least one lighting fixture for every eight feet, and they must be mounted no higher than 54 inches from the floor. You will need to install a light near your sink if there’s not enough natural light coming into the room (essential in kitchens). There are also special low-level lights available specifically made to meet ADA requirements!

Many more guidelines are discussed in this article.

7 Best ADA Handicap Kitchen Ideas: Safe and Accessible

Here are the 7 best ideas for a kitchen that is ADA-compliant and safe, and accessible.

1. Kitchen Counter and Cabinet Spacing

For wheelchair users, it’s important to have at least 24 inches of space between your countertops and cabinets. This will help you maneuver around the kitchen easily and stop you from accidentally hitting the edges or handles while seated in your chair. It also helps if there is plenty of room for people to sit down on a barstool without moving anything out of the way.

If you are replacing an old kitchen or thinking about remodeling, it’s important to make sure your counters and cabinets meet these standards before getting started on with construction. Many people don’t realize this when they start a large project like this and then find out later that their new kitchen is not ADA-compliant. If you can avoid this issue from the start, you’ll have a kitchen that is easy to use and safe for everyone!

2. Accessible Kitchen Floor Plan

When designing the floor plan for your kitchen, it’s important to remember that you’ll need to make sure everyone can use all areas of the room. This means making steps less steep and installing wider doorways, so people with mobility issues will be able to get around as easily as possible.

There should also be plenty of space between countertops and cabinets because this makes it easier for wheelchair users to move through the room without bumping into anything or needing help from someone else.

3. Accessible Kitchen Workstations

Another important part of having a kitchen that meets ADA standards is having workstations located in the right places. For example, you’ll need to make sure any countertop surfaces near windows or doors are no higher than 34 inches above the floor so people in wheelchairs can move around them without too much trouble.

If your workstations have drawers, they should be placed at least 24 inches from the edge of the counters, and they must be easy for wheelchair users to open as well (no handles more than 15 inches high). You will also want to install levelers underneath cabinets over two feet deep; this will keep them from shifting if someone bumps into them accidentally while seated on their chair.

4. Accessible Doorways

The doorway leading into your kitchen will have to be wide enough for anyone who needs help getting through it (including wheelchair users). The ADA recommends a minimum width of 32 inches. You should never install any thresholds if possible, as this can make it very difficult for people using wheelchairs or walkers to get around. If the threshold is too high, try lowering it with special flooring materials.

If there are doors that lead outside from inside the kitchen, they will also need to be wide enough for anyone who uses a wheelchair. The ADA recommends at least 36 inches in these cases, and you’ll want to consider installing lever handles instead of knobs, so they’re easier to open from behind.

5. Handicap Kitchen Cabinets

Different types of hand kitchen cabinets can help make a small kitchen really accessible and ADA compliant.

For example, the pull-out workbench is one type of design that is good for this purpose because many models have built-in cutting boards, roll around on wheels and fold up neatly when not in use.

Another storage space you may want to consider is an under-counter cabinet. They tend to be deeper than standard drawers or cupboards, so they’re great for storing things like extra pots and pans or appliances that don’t get used as often (like your ice maker). This type of storage also helps make items within easy reach of people who need assistance standing up or sitting down at all times.

6. ADA Kitchen Oven

Ovens are generally installed under the counter, so you’ll want to measure your counter depth and make sure there are at least 24 inches of clearance from the bottom of the oven to the top of the surface.

It’s also important to check with your manufacturer before purchasing a new range because some models have been redesigned for better use by everyone; this includes features like stand-up handles and larger knobs that are easier for people who may need help lifting their arms or bending over. Many ranges can also be ordered with controls mounted on rolling platforms or attached to special rails instead of in front of doors (which makes it much easier to see what settings they’re on).

7. Wheelchair Accessible Kitchen Special Features

The best designs combine an island with enough space for two people to sit comfortably while still having space in the center for someone who uses a wheelchair. You’ll also need to ensure the work surface meets ADA standards (no higher than 34 inches above the floor). The barstools shown in this example are also good because they have built-in footrests and back support so everyone can be comfortable at all times.

If you want to use your island as countertop seating, that’s fine too; be sure there is enough leg room underneath it, so people using wheelchairs aren’t bumping their knees on its underside or getting tangled up in cords or legs of chairs if someone pulls them out from underneath it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I make my kitchen ADA compliant?

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) offers guidelines for kitchens that are ADA-compliant and safe and accessible. You will need to make sure your cabinets are at the right height so people in wheelchairs can easily use them, and you’ll want to install a single lever faucet with an easy-grip handle on your sink. Grab bars should be installed near the sinks or stovetops, along with levelers if necessary, to prevent any movement when someone bumps into it while seated in their wheelchair! Remember: counter space needs to be no higher than 36 inches from the floor -or- 18 inches high where there is an eating surface of 30 inches or more between 15 inches and 80 inches above the floor.

What does the ADA require of a restaurant?

If you are running a restaurant, you will need to remember that the ADA requires at least one entrance on an accessible route, and it should be wide enough for wheelchairs. Your tables must have between twenty-four inches of knee space for wheelchair users so they can pull themselves up easily onto them – or leave enough room underneath if someone else needs their chair pulled out! You’ll also want to make sure your chairs are close together, so people do not end up bumping into each other while transferring from their seats (which is something many elderly individuals struggle with).

Do commercial kitchens need ADA accessible?

Yes, commercial kitchens need to be ADA compliant as well. The key components of the kitchen are all considered when it comes to being accessible. From doors and doorways, sinks/sinks counters, cabinets/cabinets countertops height, oven heights (or other cooking surfaces), upper shelves in storage areas can’t be taller than 36 inches high or 18 inches where there is a 30 inch-plus eating surface between 15 inches and 80 feet above floor level.)

How can I make my kitchen more accessible?

You can make your kitchen more accessible by adding a handicap-accessible countertop with a sink and dishwasher, installing wheelchair ramps to the building, or ensuring that all of your lower cabinets have doors. You’ll also want grab bars installed near sinks and ovens for added safety – but remember not to put them too close together, so people don’t bump into each other while transferring from their seat!

ADA Kitchen Design – Conclusion – Final Words

In conclusion, the ADA handicap kitchen requirements are designed to give people with disabilities a level of independence and comfort in their own homes. We hope you have enjoyed our comprehensive guide on what an ADA Handicap Kitchen looks like, how it works, and some features that will help make your life more comfortable as well.

If you are in the process of renovating your kitchen, consider how to make it accessible for people with disabilities. This means considering countertop height and placement, cabinet drawer heights, sink accessibility, doorways, and flooring and lighting. You can find more information on all these topics by reading this blog post! Have a look at our gallery showcasing 7 different kitchen ideas that have been made ADA handicap friendly, so you know what to do if remodeling is not an option.

This article is a comprehensive guide to the ADA Handicap Kitchen requirements. See what you need to know, and get started today!

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