Let’s face it. Most kitchens are not made for people with disabilities. They have to be custom designed allowing for short stature, wheelchair use, hands free operation, or other requirements. Every disability has its issues with opening doors, using buttons and knobs, reaching for things in cupboards, lighting gas stoves, storing things in the fridge, and lots more. You get it. I wish more people did.

It is costly to outfit an existing home for someone who has special needs. Updating and modernizing can be pretty darn expensive if you can find someone to do it right, that is. You need a designer with specific expertise to meet your goals. They are few and far between. This is a new calling for an enterprising soul.

So how do you make your kitchen work for you without spending a bundle? Sinks, fixtures, appliances, cabinets—they are all standard. How do you adapt to a non-standard need? This is a big question that I can’t really answer. I can just point out a few deficiencies that need addressing. For one thing, height. If a person is in a wheelchair, not only do they need sufficient space to maneuver, but they need to gain access to cookware, dishes, pantry items, and the like. It has to be reachable. No stepladders will do.

The appliances also have to be the right size. Fortunately, there are apartment size units that are smaller in scale and often a little lower. What aren’t available are different types of countertop gadgets like food processors, blenders, mixers, etc. For these, it’s important to read pressure cooker reviews or vacuum sealer reviews or whatever gadget it is that you’re looking at, to make sure it’ll be easy enough for you to operate. If you can’t reach the countertop, then you are out of luck. My suggestion is to have a custom-built island to house daily equipment, some on racks underneath. If that doesn’t work, you can buy a small butcher block table and cut down the legs. Once things are within reach, everything falls into place.

As for the sink, a pullout faucet is a must with no touch handles if possible. What is yet to solve is how to turn on the garbage disposal and load it. An electrical remote system must exist in someone’s mind to help out those with disabilities. This is a must for any and everything possible.

Yes, already I can see that you can make some of your kitchen work for you barring lowering cabinets or just using the ground level ones. You can easily load a dishwasher and do laundry this way. Forget stacking the washer and dryer. It is all about repositioning and relocating what you use the most. If you really can’t handle the existing setup, have someone help get out what you need for the next day and put it on your central table. This could be the butcher block, island, or your dining table. Then you can work as you wish and have someone put it all away later.

You sometimes have to get used to having help and not doing it all alone when it comes to the kitchen. Food prep is complicated and needs lots of stuff. You can no doubt open drawers with peelers, graters, spoons, knives, etc. in them. But for the big stuff, you either have to reach, lean over, or call a friend or spouse.