Blindness is referred to as the lack of vision which cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. However, the partial blindness enables the person to have very limited vision but complete blindness means the person cannot see anything, not even the light. Visual impairment is the decreased ability to see. The most common causes of uncorrected visual impairment are refractive errors (including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia), glaucoma, cataract, age related macular degeneration, childhood blindness, corneal clouding, infections, diabetic retinopathy, also the the decreased ability to see occurs as a result of problems in the brain, occurs because of stroke, prematurity, and trauma. However, WHO estimates that 80% of the visual impairment is preventable or curable with the help of treatment and that many people might benefit from vision rehabilitation and other assistive devices.
The onset of even a minor loss in the vision, might make cooking difficult. Whether you’re preparing a meal for one or a feast for family and friends, there are ways to make your kitchen work for you if you are blind. With practice, and a few modifications to the kitchen, food can be prepared safely and independently.
Blind Person’s Kitchen: Getting Organized
- Develop a system so you know where your utensils, spices and ingredients are stored. And make sure that other family members are aware so that they return things to their proper places. Never store spices on a shelf above the stove. Also, do not wear anything with long, loose sleeves while cooking.
- Labeling with large print or braille as well as tactile markings can help distinguish similar types of containers or the right setting on an oven or microwave. Wrap a rubber band around the juice container, for example, to tell it apart from the milk. Some of the popularly available labelling methods include braille labels, bump dots, large print labels, color coded labels, magnetic letters, rubber band markers, alphabetical sorting.
- Make sure to dispose off the clutter, seldom used and expired products.
- Proper organization of the kitchen ware is crucial. Knives must be put in a separate location from other utensils. Use most frequently used utensils within an easy reach, or in a cupboard near the stove.
- Use all your senses. Touch and hearing can help you identify ingredients and operate appliances. Do you know how to tell a can of cream soup from noodle soup? Listen and feel as you shake the cans – the noodle soup will splash and feel looser. Some stove dials click as you turn the knob to various temperature settings. You can smell toast getting brown to know it’s done or burning. Meat is brown when it’s rough to the touch.
- Know your lighting needs. Install under-the-counter lighting and/or use gooseneck, adjustable arm lamps to position light directly onto your work area. Seat yourself so windows are behind you or to your side.
Getting Started With Your Disability Kitchen
- Keep cabinet doors fully closed or fully open. Contrasting tape on the insides or backs of cabinet doors can make it easier to tell if one is open. Install contrasting knobs or handles.
- Use a cutting board that contrasts in color with the items that you’re cutting. Long armed oven mitts, dish towels and utensils that contrast with countertops can make them easier to find.
- Use a timer when heating foods. You’ll not only know when the food is done, but get a reminder to turn off the appliance.
- Divided measuring cups are more accurate and easier to use than a standard measuring cup for both dry and liquid ingredients. It can be difficult to detect the lines for each measure on a standard measuring cup and divided measuring cups are available in a variety of colors, so you can utilize color contrast techniques.
Disabled Kitchens :Using Appliances
- Many appliance manufacturers offer large-print or braille dials, overlays, contrasting color features and marking kits, so ask before you buy. Now-a-days, talking microwaves are available for the visually impaired, which have a range of speaking controls and reminders. They also have tactile keys. They can alert or alarm the person even if the door is left open or closed, or when to stir food.
- Talking labels: These devices provide audible messages to narrate the identification and content of an item on the push of a button. However, these labels require setting up before use. It involves pre-recording an audible message to stick the device to the desired item to be identified by the visually impaired. Thus one talking label is required individually, for each item to be identified.
- Liquid level indicators for a cup or mug: These are battery powered, which fit over the side of the utensil in which some liquid is to be poured in, and indicates the level of filling, by emitting a bleep or vibration to alert the visually impaired person. These are suitable for both hot and cold drinks.
- Kitchen weigh scales: These are battery powered automated weighing scales, with large digit display and audio spoken output of the item being weighed.
- Food thermometers with speech output: These are also battery powered, which use a pre-recorded voice and give an audible narration of the temperature of food and the degree of cooking.
- Boil alert control disc: It is also one of the essential addition to be done while designing a kitchen for visually impaired. The disc is placed inside the pot and it prevents the boil over of spaghetti, rice, milk etc.
- A popular addition to many kitchens, the George Foreman Grill allows you to cook food on both sides simultaneously, without setting any dials or needing to flip or turn the food.
- Easy-to-set bread machines, crock pots and rotisseries can simplify the cooking process.
- Install counter-level outlets for easy access, or use battery-operated appliances. Some people feel more in control when using manual appliances.
- Small countertop appliances – including toaster ovens, coffeemakers and microwaves – may be safer and easier to use for heating food than the oven or stove.
Cooking Tips For The Blind
- Record your recipes for easy access. There are cookbooks available in large print and braille as well as on audiocassette. If you’re online, you can access recipes from Web sites and print them in an accessible format.
- Pay attention to the sounds of food cooking. When asked how long a pan of enchiladas needs to be baked, one man said, “When they’re talking loudly, not whispering, but fairly shouting, they’re done!” Listen for the rolling, bubbling noise that becomes louder and more forceful as liquids boil. Wait to hear the popping of frying food to know it’s browning. When the sounds die down, food usually is ready to be turned.
- As food cooks, odors change. Often you can smell when something is done, for example, when cookies are baked.
- Smell spices before you sprinkle. There’s nothing like mistaking pepper for cinnamon.
Disability Kitchens : Setting Your Table
- Use contrasting plates, tablecloths, placemats, and napkins. Use light or dark colored plates, glasses, or cups to contrast with food and beverages.
- Plates that are pattern-free make locating food much easier.
- Use tinted rather than clear glasses for greater visibility.
- Push chairs under tables.
- Use a tablecloth to cut the glare from shiny or polished surfaces such as Formica tabletops.
- Eat in a well-lit area. Sunshine streaming into a room can cause glare. Consider adjustable window curtains or shades.