I am happy to say that we have a guest blogger here today. Jackie Waters reached out to me and wondered if my blog readers would be interested in her experience. She and her husband have modified their home for a relative with visual impairment. I was delighted to feature her article here for you today.
Jackie Waters is a mother of four boys, and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site Hyper-Tidy.com. Here is her article on Kitchen Modifications.
Three Kitchen Modifications for a Visually Impaired Chef
If you or a loved one loves to cook but a visual impairment makes cooking difficult or unsafe in your current kitchen, you should consider making some modifications to your kitchen and your organization methods. With a few tweaks, you can make being a home chef much easier for a person with a visual impairment. We share some of the most helpful kitchen modifications here to get you started.
It is difficult to modify a stove, but it is one of the more dangerous areas of the kitchen, so you may want to consider purchasing a newer model if yours does not have some features that make cooking a little easier and safer for a person with a visual impairment. First, look for a stove that has controls on the front rather than in the back behind the burners and cooking surface. It is easier to see and touch knobs that are directly in front of you. Knobs on the front of the stove also prevent a person from having to reach across hot burners and pans to work the appliance.
It’s also a smart idea to use glass cookware as often as possible. Glass cookware makes food more visible; it also makes it easier to see when water is boiling. Another option is to attach a mirror to a moveable arm to a cabinet beside the stove or to the wall behind it to improve the visibility of food on back burners. It’s important to make the mirror adjustable so the person can angle it and move it to avoid glare yet improve the visibility of food while cooking.
As with any room of the home, the kitchen needs to have adequate lighting to aid a person with a visual impairment. Good lighting also ensures a safer environment and helps prevent accidents. It is best to put the lighting where the person needs it in the kitchen. This means adding small lamps with adjustable necks that can be raised, lowered, or angled to direct the light to the area that the person needs it while cooking.
Install lights under your kitchen cabinets to add task lighting to the areas of the kitchen where the person prepares food. Position a lamp near the stove and other appliances that are used frequently. If your stove hood does not feature at least one light, consider purchasing a new one that does. If you have an island, install pendant lights directly over it rather than relying on one ceiling light to illuminate the entire kitchen. Purchase dimmer switches for your kitchen lights so the person can adjust the brightness to reduce glare.
One of the quickest ways to improve safety in the kitchen for a visually-impaired home chef is to develop a good organization system. When everything is in its designated place, accidents are less likely to occur. First, make sure that everyone in the home returns items to the proper places; knives and other sharp kitchen tools should be kept in the same place at all times to reduce the chances of someone getting cut.
While cooking, designate a place for used sharp instruments; some people stand knives in a tall glass when they are finished using them so they know where they are and easily can locate them when it comes time to do the dishes. Other people place dirty knives behind the faucet on the countertop so they do not wind up in the sink with the other dirty dishes and pose a hazard to unsuspecting hands and fingers.
Organize food items in cabinets and pantries to ensure a home chef with a visual impairment can find them quickly and easily. Some people prefer to place frequently used items closest to the stove and food preparation areas, while others prefer to place similar items together on each shelf. Wherever you decide to store your food, be consistent and use labels with large print, braille, or tactile dots to make it easier to distinguish containers of similar shapes and sizes. Avoid storing food products with cleaning products to minimize the risk of accidental ingestion.
Modifying the kitchen to improve stove safety, lighting, and organization methods will help a person with a visual impairment feel more confident when it comes to being a home chef. Enhancing the safety and accessibility of the kitchen is a must-do for a visually-impaired chef.
Check out Jackie's website for more great information! Hyper-Tidy.com
I attended an extra educational session (called Assistive Technology Boot Camp) at ATIA 2015. This will surprise no one who knows me. I hate the phrase "less is more". No, it isn't. More is more (for example, the Oxford comma). But I don't need to get upset right now, so let's talk about what I learned at ATIA 2015.
Let me explain my thought process behind attending this extra session (other than the above personality quirks). It has been almost ten years since Tyler died. It's really hard to believe. Ten years is a really long time, but in terms of technology, it's an eternity. Especially the last ten years! I knew I was practically a dinosaur in terms of my knowledge of assistive technology. So I wanted to take the extra sessions in order to get up to speed, and then maximize my use of the time and resources available at the conference.
I was more than happy with the Boot Camp session. The two facilitators, Kirk D. Behnke, and Mike Marotta, were experienced in the field of assistive technology. They were well organized, kept the schedule running smoothly, and were very interesting. They shared information about the process of choosing assistive technology devices, what options were available (and here the difference in the last ten years is astounding!), and universal design (a concept I really loved and will probably write more about).
I learned a lot more about assistive technology than I can put in one blog post, but I will share a few points here.
None of these things are different than they were when Tyler was alive. I remember the super-expensive equipment I bought myself for helping him learn to speak. Unfortunately, it was just before the situation spiraled down, and I was never able to use it for him. I gave it to another child with special needs (along with his wheelchair) after he passed away.
In conclusion, the devices have changed substantially, but the care and "people skills" required to use them haven't changed.
I'm the owner of Family First Braille, the author of this blog, and the editor of Family First Braille Magazine.