If you have a disability, injury, back problems, arthritis, vision impairment or cognitive impairment, then washing dishes can be hard work - even if you've got a dishwasher to do it for you. We've based the following guidelines for choosing an accessible dishwasher on information from the Assistive Technology Australia.
If you're in a wheelchair or have back problems
There are a number of drawer, compact and benchtop dishwasher models on the market from a variety of manufacturers. These can help if you have issues bending down too far as they can be installed at chest height for a wheelchair user, or higher if you can stand up. Drawer and compact dishwashers are built in, bench-top models tend not to be. Most have smaller loading capacity due to their compact size. Alternately, if you have a bad back and you want a normal sized dishwasher, you can still get the plumber, or builder, to professionally install it at a higher height (maybe 50cm or so) so you don't need to bend over to load it. You might utilise the space below it for a deep drawer and the space above for a microwave.
- Drawer models, such as the Fisher & Paykel range, have pull-out drawers that contain the dishwasher compartment. These can also be installed in a two-drawer format called a double dishdrawer where you can activate only one drawer if necessary for a smaller wash.
- Compact models, such as those from Bosch, have a downward-opening door like an oven. The dishwasher stacking frame rolls out onto the door, as with a conventional dishwasher.
- Bench-top models, such as those from Omega and a number of other manufacturers, sit on top of a bench and also have a conventional door and loading system.
If you have an upper limb impairment
- Choose a model with a lightweight door and with a latch that's easy to open and close
- Look for controls that are easy to turn and press
- Check that baskets slide in and out easily
- Large, raised dials with a crossbar are good, but note that dials can be more difficult to use than buttons or keypads if you lack hand strength
- If hand strength is an issue, look for buttons and keypads that require only a soft touch to activate, and
- Make sure the filters can be easily removed, cleaned and replaced.
If you have a vision impairment
- You'll need controls that are easy to read – large, well-spaced and with good contrast, and well-labelled
- Positive feedback such as lights and/or beeps, and other tactile, audio and visual feedback is helpful, and
- Look for well-defined baskets – in a contrasting colour if available.
For people with cognitive or memory impairment
- An audible end-of-cycle signal and fault alarm can be helpful
- Look for labelling that's very clear
- Some people might find pictures or graphics more useful than words, and
- Choose appliances with few options for the controls.