ADA & Independent Living

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What do you know about “universal design”?

While accessible products accommodate people with disabilities, universal design takes accessibility a step further, by asserting that homes should accommodate all people, including those of different ability, height, and age. Universal design means true accessibility.

By incorporating universal design into kitchens, you can give your homes a competitive edge by meeting the increasing demand for accessible living environments in today’s homes. Features such as adjustable countertops and cabinets, undercounter kneespace, and pullout shelves provide accessible work surfaces and storage that can be used by all of the members of a household, including those with physical disabilities. An investment in universal design can make your homes stand out from the rest by adding value that today’s homebuyers appreciate.

The percentage of senior citizens has almost doubled since 1950, and approximately 49 million Americans have some type of disability. These groups represent the two fastest growing population segments. Designers and manufacturers that recognize the demands of these population segments are creating spaces and products to accommodate them.

There are many manufacturers of cabinets and accessories for kitchen accessibility. For example, one has a modular system of base cabinet segments, countertops, and wall cabinets mounted on vertical tracks for manual or motorized adjustability. Another manufactures hardware that (via remote control or manual crank) adjusts the height of wall cabinets and/or countertops. They also distributes a device that provides access to wall-cabinet shelves by mounting them on a gliding unit that pulls down. Some manufacture Lazy-Susans, full-extension slides for drawers and shelves, container lids that open, or shelves that slide out when the cabinet door is opened, and baskets mounted on the back of cabinet doors. One manufacturer produces a dumbwaiter with a 75-pound capacity. Another manufactures cabinet that allows bifold base-cabinet doors to open fully, providing maximum use of clear kneespace for seated users, and a stepstool that conveniently folds away into the toekick under the base cabinet.

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