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A guide to choosing an accessible fridge

Our expert tips for choosing an accessible fridge for people with disabilities, vision impairment or cognitive impairment.

fridges accessibility lead
Last updated: 22 March 2024


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Grabbing a snack from the fridge isn't always easy for people with disabilities, injuries, back problems, vision impairment or cognitive impairment.

We help you choose the right fridge for your needs.

 Choosing a fridge if you're in a wheelchair or have back problems

Here are some tips and things to look out for.

  • Small and shallow fridges allow for easier access to items.
  • A bottom-mounted freezer tends to make using both compartments easier – a higher freezer may be almost impossible to reach as well as clean.
  • If you use the freezer a lot, you may prefer it on top, to minimise bending. If you don't, go for a bottom-mounted freezer so that the fresh food compartment is at a handy height.
  • Temperature controls should be easy to reach without bending.
  • Check where the temperature controls are positioned in the fresh-food compartment: they're often towards the top and back, so you may need help to adjust them.
  • Drawers or baskets that slide out easily in a bottom-mounted freezer also improve accessibility. But access to all of the fresh food, and in some cases the chiller, may be impossible with a large fridge.
  • Handles running vertically down the side of the door are easier to use.

 Choosing a fridge if you have an upper limb impairment

Here are some tips and things to look out for.

  • The old-fashioned D-type handles are much easier for people with arthritis and reduced hand strength, but most modern fridges don't have them.
  • Push-button controls are suitable for most people but may not suit those with tremors. In this case, controls with large knobs or slide-bars are better.
  • Look for controls at the front of the compartment.
  • Wire shelves and perforated door shelves are harder to clean and don't contain spills.
  • You'll probably find two small crisper drawers easier to handle than a single large one. Make sure chillers, crispers etc. pull out smoothly and are stable once open – some tend to fall all the way out. People with tremors will find crispers with tracks harder to replace after removing them.
  • Avoid small and tightly-spaced shelf guides, as lining up the shelf to slide it in can be tricky.

 Choosing a fridge if you're vision impaired

Here are some tips and things to look out for.

  • Opt for good internal lighting and clearly marked controls.
  • Look for strong contrast on labels – such as black or navy blue on a white background – and between features (such as crispers) and their surroundings.

 Choosing a fridge if you live with cognitive or memory impairment

Here are some tips and things to look out for.

  • Some electronic fridges sound a warning alarm if they're left open, which can be a useful reminder. However, this depends on the individual – some may find it confusing.
  • Look for intuitive, simple controls and labelling.
  • Food should be clearly visible – for example, wire baskets in the freezer are better than those with opaque plastic fronts.
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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.