Kitchens are not often thought of when planning accessibility...but why not? Isn't it possible that a person who uses a wheelchair may want to volunteer in the kitchen? Don't people with arthritis want to volunteer?
General information about wheelchair accessible residential kitchens is readily available on the internet. These sites go into redoing kitchens for people's homes. Some of the information will be useful for church use. Wright State University has a good Accessible Kitchen Website.
Even an old table placed in the kitchen with a chair can be a workstation for someone who can't stand for long. Not many churches seem to think of this as an asset. Try it in your church and see what the response is.
Many church kitchens have labels on drawers and cabinets. Have large print and Braille labels as well.
When you are replacing kitchen implements, purchase ones that have easy-grasp handles. These are really helpful to people who have arthritis or difficulty holding onto small handles.
If there is someone in your congregation who is an occupational therapist, ask this expert for advice about setting up the kitchen for people who have physical difficulties.
Remember that good lighting is important, and don't forget larger print signs and recipe pages.
We all love pot-luck meals, but buffet lines can be daunting for people with disabilities. If people cannot stand on line comfortably, invite them to the front of the line.
Ask people who use mobility aids such as walkers, canes, crutches, or wheelchairs if they would like help carrying their plate or tray.
Many people have dietary restrictions (and/or dietary preferences) so it makes sense to ask people to bring not only a dish to pass, but also to bring a card listing all the ingredients.
Some people have a conscious or unconscious bias about weight, and feel free to make comments about, or stare at, other people's portion sizes, or the desserts other people have chosen. This is rude. It is neither good manners, nor acceptable behavior, to be judgmental about the food another person chooses at a meal, nor is it appropriate to attempt to recruit people to weight-loss programs (these are comments that have been made repeatedly by people).
For more information contact access @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.
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