When it comes to designing and building kitchens for people with special needs, accessibility codes based on the Americans With Disabilities Act are helpful — and sometimes mandated. But your most important resource, in my view, is the client. Whereas codes are generic, people have specific needs, strengths, physical abilities, habits, and tastes.

Moreover, your clients have probably been thinking about what they want in their kitchen for years. Along with family members and caregivers, they know a tremendous amount about what will and won't work for them. Sometimes they can tell you exactly what's wrong with their existing space and how they want it fixed. In other cases, you may have to...

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