How to cook when you’re blind or visually impaired

Check out these tips for organizing your kitchen to make cooking easier and safer, and get you to the eating part faster.

Tantalizing aromas, delectable flavors – who doesn’t love to eat? But before you can eat, you need to cook, and that means planning ahead. Check out these tips for organizing your kitchen to make cooking easier and safer, and get you to the eating part faster. These tips are helpful if you’re blind and preparing to tackle a culinary challenge, or if you’re helping someone who is visually impaired set up a cooking environment.

  1. Organize the kitchen. A place for everything and everything in its place. Group like items together and store items close to where you’ll be using them. If you have multiples of an item, store one behind the other on the shelf. Also, be sure to store cleaning products separately from foods.
  2. Be smart about labeling foods. You don’t need to label items that are in distinctive packaging, such as a can of shortening, baking powder or milk. (If you have similar milk and juice containers in your fridge, put a rubber band on one to tell them apart.) Label different containers that are similar in shape, like tuna and cat food, soups, breakfast cereal boxes and oils and vinegars. Use braille or large-print labels and rubber bands, tactile markers on rubber bands, or a Pen Friend.
  3. Use a cafeteria tray at your prep area to organize materials and contain spills. Anticipate making somewhat of a mess (that’s part of the fun of cooking!). Locate and take out all ingredients and supplies before starting to cook so you won’t need to hunt for things later. A simple method of organizing is to place all your waiting-to-be-used ingredients and equipment on the left side of the tray. Do the actual prep work – slicing, mixing and so on – on the tray. After using an ingredient or piece of equipment, move it to the right side of the tray. When you’re finished cooking, all the items that need to be cleaned, put away or tossed into the trash will be in one place.
  4. Use nesting measuring cups or spoons for measuring wet and dry ingredients. Put liquids that you’ll measure small amounts of, such as vanilla, in wide-mouth containers. Bend a measuring spoon to function as a ladle to measure them out. That way, you won’t have to pour liquid into a small spoon.
  5. Transfer dry ingredients from paper bags, plastic bags or cardboard boxes to rigid, labeled plastic or glass containers. This makes measuring, identification and storing easier. It also discourages kitchen pests like weevils and ants.
  6. Keep a wet towel at your prep area to wipe fingers. This minimizes unnecessary trips to the sink and also reduces mess from touching things with wet or sticky fingers.
  7. Play it safe with boiling water. Add ingredients such as pasta and rice to water before boiling (and remember to add a few minutes to your cooking time). That way, you avoid the potential splashing hazard of adding items to water that’s already boiling.
  8. Don’t be afraid to cook something new. Be creative! With good planning and cooking techniques, and good friends who pass along a delicious recipe or two (and are a phone call away if you have questions), you’re ready to cook your next mouth-watering meal.

Thanks to Jessica Alves, Kathy Bull, Kate Crohan, Sue Shannon, Rachael Noyes, and Alex LaVoie, Occupational Therapists and Home and Personal Management teachers.

Cooking can be a real challenge when faced with blindness or vision loss. With the help of MaxiAids’ assistive products for the blind and visually impaired, and a few pointers for successful preparation of meals, cooking and baking can be gratifying and less frustrating when using the right tools! These assistive cooking items from MaxiAids will help make you feel more confident and independent in the kitchen.

ORGANIZATION

Organization in the kitchen is extremely important to know where every item, spice, accessory, dinnerware and cookware is kept. Decluttering and keeping the space free of obstacles make navigating in the kitchen easier. Labeling your items for identification is an absolute must for differentiating spices, oils and other food prep items. It is important to always put items back in the exact place each time you are done with them.

SAFETY TIPS

Wear short sleeves above the elbow when working at the stove and oven. Use elbow length long oven mitts to handle pots and pans when removing them from the oven, and always set a timer to remind you when to turn off the stove and electrical appliances.

Place pot on burner before turning on the heat and always shut the burner off before removing a pot. Instead of a frying pan, use a deep-sided saucepan for frying; it is much safer and the oil won’t spatter. Add ingredients such as rice and pasta to water before boiling to avoid the risk of getting splashed by hot water.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impairedHow to cook when you're blind or visually impairedHow to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

A double spatula will help turn and flip food for better control. Always face saucepan handles to the same side so you know where they are at all times. This will prevent you from knocking them over. Use an electronic liquid level indicator for pouring liquids so you do not over pour.

FOOD PREP

Measuring cups and spoons are available with raised markings to help you measure accurately. When it comes to food preparation, there are many assistive items to choose from to help you prepare your meals more easily. Whether it’s a non-stick, anti-splatter, or an easy-pour locking lid pot, our pots and pans have some safety features to protect you from burns and injury.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impairedHow to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Small appliances help prepare meals fast and safe. From crockpots to toaster ovens with tactile markings to talking appliances, these kitchen cooking helpers are functional and space-saving.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impairedHow to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Serving food on a dish is convenient and easier when you refer to it as a clock face. As an example; by placing meat at 12:00, grains at 3:00, vegetables at 6:00 and fruit at 9:00 will help identify food on the plate for you and your guests.

Plate guards help keep the food on the plate, avoiding a mess and fits on most dishes discreetly.

MaxiAids is proud to offer products for the blind and visually impaired, low vision products, low vision aids and blind accessories to make cooking and other tasks or hobbies easier and more productive.

April 15, 2020 by Ed Henkler

How does a blind person cook will be addressed in this post. But, as I’m relying on the experts, perhaps a more relevant title is Why does a blind person cook? Before you finish reading this post, you will have an overview of cooking blind. You will also have a link to a wonderful resource published by VisionAware, which is part of the American Printing House for the Blind.

Learning to Cook as a Blind Person – seek experts

Much like other ADL’s, a blind person must re-learn how to cook. The principles obviously don’t change but so much else does. How do you meaure amounts? How do you add the right quantities as you fill a pot or other container. How do you distinguish between similar containers? Cayenne is not a substitute for paprika. Nor is sugar a substitute for flour. The list goes on and on.

Sound insurmountable? Long ago, vision rehabilitation specialists have developed techniques to address every one of those questions. It will take time but they can train you on every aspect of cooking. Maybe you’ll even be a better cook afterwards as tasks get broken down and explained. They’ll address all of the questions above. More importantly, they will teach you how cook safely. Hot burners, ovens and the like are essential for cooking. They can also be hazardous for you and your dwelling.

Sounds difficult; maybe I should just microwave frozen meals?

That’s obviously an option, especially if you never really enjoyed cooking. Let me give you two reasons why I hope you chose to thrive as a blind cook. The first is easy. Perhaps you loved to cook before you lost your sight. My Mom fit in that category. She was an excellent cook and also spent many years working as a caterer. Relying on others to prepare her meals wasn’t aligned with her goals. Although she did love the occasional meal prepared by her son.

The second reason is less obvious. After losing your vision, you will need support from others. No matter how gregarious, there are some tasks where vision is helpful, if not required. Cooking a delicious meal for someone who has been helping you is a great way to say thank you. It also ensures you can invite friends over. Happy Hour? Elegant dinner? Summer barbeque. Don’t make your guests bring the meal. Instead, wow them with your skills.

So how does a blind person get started with cooking?

The following excerpt is copied directly from the VisionAware site and is a very small portion of the overall article. It is only intended to give you a taste (pun intended) of the overall quality and content. Want to find more resources such as VisionAware? Check out my Resources page, which is frequently updated with new information.

Cutting and Chopping

  1. Use trays or cutting boards in colors that contrast with your food. For example, keep a white cutting board for slicing apples or carrots, and a dark-colored board for onions.
  2. Use reversible cutting board, dark on one side, white on the other Use the white side of the cutting board for darker-colored foods, such as eggplant or broccoli, and the black side for lighter-colored foods, such as onions and cheese.
  3. Make sure the cutting edge of your knife blade is facing downward before you cut or slice. You can identify the cutting edge of the knife blade without touching it. Since the cutting edge is usually curved, try rocking the knife blade forward and backward on the table top to determine when the cutting edge (which will rock) is facing downward.
  4. Try using a pizza cutter instead of a knife for slicing sandwiches.

The VisionAware article hits the following topics and is well worth a complete read:

  1. Safe Cooking Tips
  2. Cutting and Chopping
  3. Measuring
  4. Pouring – Cold Liquids
  5. Electronic Devices for Pouring
  6. Hot Liquids
  7. Peeling
  8. Placing Pans on a Burner
  9. Baking
  10. Turning Foods
  11. Tesing Food for Doneness
  12. Spreading
  13. Adapting Cookbooks and Recipes
  14. Useful Tools and Small Appliances

Other Resources for Cooking Blind

Reading the VisionAware article is a start but remember that you truly need to develop these skills under the guidance of a vision rehabilitation teacher. Most organizations which support people who are blind provide ADL training. That includes cooking and a variety of other basic skills to begin restoring your independence. The Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired has an in-house program which teaches you all of the basic skills. Most organizations will also visit your home to make it more accessible. You can buy or make puffy paint to mark gauges and other reference points on your stove and microwave.

Apps such as Aira and Be My Eyes can help you identify ingredients in your house or when you’re shopping.

Other options including a shopping assistant. My Mom used this resource and found them available in most stores and also very helpful. Braille labels are another option if you know Braille. Personal shopper services such as Instacart cost a bit more but can eliminate most of the logistical complications.

Bottom Line: Can a person who is blind cook? Of course, it just takes some time and adaptation. Much like any new skill. With a bit of practice, you’ll be fixing wonderful meals for your friends and caregivers. Just the same as when you were sighted.

Published on April 14, 2020 | Last updated on April 27, 2020

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Unless you order takeout for three meals a day, cooking is a necessary chore in daily life. However, the seemingly menial act of cooking can seem daunting to people with vision challenges. When it comes to blind cooking, there is danger in the high heat and flames involved, and it is easy to mess up a recipe by pouring in the wrong ingredient, or even too much of the right one. But, while it may not be easy, it is certainly doable. Below we offer you some valuable tips for cooking with visual impairment.

Organization

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

An organized kitchen is a happy kitchen, no matter what your visual capabilities are. Make sure that every item has a place to belong, so you know where to find it and when to replenish it. Spices on this shelf, oils on this one, etc. Group like items together and store items close to where you’ll be using them.

Measuring cups are very useful to have handy for multiple purposes in blind cooking, not just for baking. Use them to scoop out different ingredients instead of pouring the food straight into the dish or bowl to minimize spills. Put liquids that you’ll most often be measuring small amounts of, such as vanilla extract, into wide-mouth containers. That way, you won’t have to pour liquid into a small spoon and can instead stick the measuring spoon straight into the container.

Safety

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Wear short sleeves or roll your sleeves above the elbow when working at the stove, and wear long high-heat oven mitts to handle pots and pans. When it comes to baking, make sure the oven racks are positioned correctly before turning on the oven. When testing for doneness, use touch. Stick a toothpick into the batter and then feel if it comes out clean.

To make cutting easier, use a white cutting board to contrast with brightly colored food and a dark cutting board to contrast with white foods like onions or parsnips. Always position the pan correctly on the burner before turning the stove on, and turn off the flame before removing the pan. Another good idea when it comes to chopping vegetables is to use a vegetable chopper, where you can easily put in a piece of the vegetable and just press down to chop it.

Preparation

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

If you have an OrCam MyEye, you can program it to remember all of your most commonly used products. Make it easier to find and identify food in your kitchen and grab the items you need with instant product identification and barcode reading.

The OrCam MyEye is also great for reading recipes in cookbooks and even online from digital screens. While braille cookbooks exist, they are not very practical when it comes to getting your hands dirty in the kitchen. Not only can the OrCam MyEye read a recipe back to you instantaneously with just the point of a finger, using the new Interactive Reading feature, it can easily find all the measurements with just a spoken command.

Watch the video below to see how a blind chef who works in a highly acclaimed restaurant uses OrCam MyEye in the kitchen:

Another chef who is legally blind and benefits from the OrCam MyEye is Orly Shamir of Nourished by Light. Cooking nutritional recipes helped her heal from an opioid addiction and find her “soul’s true vision.” Orly believes that “cooking, like life, is best experienced as a multi-sensory treat.” She also shares her cooking videos on her YouTube channel. In a recent cooking demo, Orly talked about how her OrCam MyEye played a large part in helping her get through cooking school. Watch from 14:40-15:59 in the below video.

Geplaatst door Nourished by Light op Donderdag 2 april 2020

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Staying active

There are plenty of techniques and pieces of equipment that can help blind and partially sighted people to cook safely. Jac Clougherty, one of the centre officers at Sight Scotland Veterans’s Hawkhead Centre in Paisley, works closely with veterans with sight loss in the centre’s skills kitchen.

Here are her top tips:

Food preparation

· Ensure crockery, utensils, food etc., are always kept in the same places. Consistency can help you to find what you are looking for more easily.

· Be organised – have your ingredients close at hand.

· Make use of task lamps and day light lighting, and project direct lighting onto your task. Down lighting on kitchen units can also make good lighting for shining lighting worktops.

· Have a bowl nearby for peelings to reduce clutter on work surface.

· Non-slip mats helps to stabilise bowls. Bowls with non-slip bottoms and non-slip chopping boards with prongs are available. Chopping boards with funnels can make it easier to direct food into pans and bowls.

· Use mugs to hold utensils – this can help you to locate them more easily whilst preparing food.

· Consider using recipes that use cups, spoons etc. for measuring, as this can make measuring ingredients easier

· Sharp knives are safer than blunt knifes for cutting/slicing.

· Food processors with attachments for slicing and chopping are useful for prepping fruit and vegetables.

Colour contrast

Colour and colour contrast can be a huge help in navigating kitchen tasks.

· Use a different coloured chopping board. For example, a red chopping board may help potatoes stand out. A white chopping board may be more helpful for slicing carrots. A dark chopping board on a light surface can provide better contrast.

· If pouring liquid, it’s easier to use colour-contrasting mugs, like a dark coloured mug for milk.

· A coloured bowl may be easier when mixing flour.

· Contrasting edging on work surfaces may help to identify the edge of the work surface. Matt work surfaces may also reduce glare.

Boiling and pouring water

· Talking jugs provide audio measurements.

· One-cup kettles automatically dispense a mug’s worth of boiling water straight into your mug.

· Heat resistant gloves protect your hands from heat and can provide good grip.

· A water boil alert will rattle in the pot when water reaches boiling point.

· An anti-slip tray placed under a mug can be useful when making a hot drink – if the liquid spills it can be easily cleaned from the tray rather than spreading over a work surface.

Setting the oven or microwave safely

· Bump ons are colourful raised stickers that can help you locate settings on microwaves and cookers.

· A Tacti-Mark Pen can be used to create tactile marks for dials and buttons.

· Talking microwaves are available.

Storage tips

· Write your own labels in large print with a bold pen to mark food items and dates.

· When you want to check dates or ingredients information, try using apps. TapTapSee is a smartphone app which allows you to take a picture of an object, and then identifies what it is. Be My Eyes connects blind and partially sighted people with sighted helpers from around the world via a live video connection.

· A Penfriend is an audio labeller that allows you to record your own voice onto labels. You can laminate the labels or place clear tape over them when using on frozen items. Talking tin lids can also help keep track of ingredients and dates.

· Try placing elastic bands or tactile bands around tinned food to help identify different items or contents, for example one band for tinned peas, two bands for tinned beans.

· Transfer dry ingredients into rigid, labelled plastic or glass containers. This can makes measuring, identification and storing easier.

Talking devices

Some of the most useful talking kitchen devices to aid blind and partially sighted cooks include:

· Talking scales with an easy-to-see jug

· Talking measuring jug

· Penfriend for labelling foodstuff

· Talking food thermometers

More on Sight Scotland Veterans’ skills kitchens

At Sight Scotland Veterans’s Hawkhead Centre in Paisley and Linburn Centre in West Lothian, many veterans with sight loss have developed sight loss in later life.

Cookery sessions in the centres’ skills kitchens help these blind and partially sighted veterans adapt their cookery skills, enabling them to rustle up tasty meals and treats and even learn a few new kitchen tricks along the way.

Jac explains: “One of our veterans at the Hawkhead Centre requested to make mince and tatties, as this was a dish he had really enjoyed but had not made it himself for years due to a lack of confidence in the kitchen following his sight loss.

“After coming into the skills kitchen and being supported to make this dish using some of these tips and techniques, he is now confidently and independently making mince and tatties in his own home.

“Another of our veterans was fairly new to the Hawkhead Centre when he came into the skills kitchen. Using these tips he made a chicken curry for the first time ever for both himself and his wife. He was so pleased with this achievement that he now regularly comes to the skills kitchen, where he makes dishes to take home for their dinner.”

Find out more about how Sight Scotland Veterans helps veterans with sight loss here.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Cooking is a vital skill in a person’s everyday life. It can be a fun hobby or a way to try new foods at home. However, when vision loss gets involved, navigating the kitchen may seem like a monumental task. Vision loss does not have to mean the end of cooking, so here are a few tips on how to cook safely for those who are blind or visual impaired.

Kitchen Safety:
The first step in cooking safely is making sure that both the kitchen and yourself are properly set for cooking. We recommend wearing a short sleeve shirt or rolling your sleeves above the elbow to avoid any burns or stains to your clothing. When handling pots and pans, be sure to wear oven mitts. Lastly, make sure to have a timer handy. It will help remind you to turn off the stove or other appliances.

Cutting and Chopping:
The most important thing before starting to use a knife is to make sure the cutting edge is facing downwards. A simple trick to make sure that the cutting edge is facing downwards is to rock the knife blade back and forth on your cutting surface. Since most knifes are curved, it will curve along with the knife and you will feel the motion. Once you have your knife in the right direction, be sure to use a cutting board that contrasts with the food. This will make it easier to identify the item being cut. If you are having issues using a knife, a pizza cutter can be a good alternative.

Handling Pans and Burners:
When placing pans on burners, be sure to position the pan on the burner correctly before turning the stove on. When you are done cooking, make sure to turn off the burner before removing the pan. Both of these precautions reduce the possibility of bumping into or knocking over pans. After the pan is correctly on the burner, you can double check the heat source by holding your palm at chest level and circle your hand around until you find the heat source.

Our Sight Shoppe offers equipment to help those with vision loss maintain their independence. Kitchen equipment including long oven mitts, low vision cutting boards, liquid level indicators and more are sold on-site! With these tips, you will be cooking like a pro in no time. Be sure to meet with your local rehab agency for specialized vision rehabilitation training.

  • How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

According to a survey by the Health Promotion Board in 2010, 60% of Singaporeans ate out at least 4 times a week. Eating out is a convenient and cheap option in this country, but this lifestyle makes a balanced nutritional intake a challenge.

It’s doubly challenging when you have a visual impairment. Most kitchen activities are more difficult if you’re blind or visually impaired: handling knives, measuring ingredients, use of the stovetop and the oven. No surprise then, when we asked our blind friends whether they cooked at home or not, most of them said they didn’t.

The list

We joined a cooking workshop organised by local social enterprise Fortitude Culina to find out how blind people could cook at home.

Besides tips on how to organise the worktop and techniques for handling food and utensils, we saw some special equipment that would be great for any visually impaired person in the kitchen:

1) Talking induction cooker

This stove reads its settings out loud as you set the temperature. It has safety features such as turning off after a preset period, and a magnetised base for stainless steel pans and pots. The hob also turns off immediately when a pan is removed.

2) Cut-resistant safety gloves

Save your finger tips (and your supply of first-aid plasters) with these special safety gloves.

3) Talking thermometer, kitchen scales

Thermometers and kitchen scales that says their readings to you.

4) Liquid level indicator

An electronic device that hangs over the edge of your glass or bowl. Now you don’t have to burn your fingers or embarrass yourself overfilling cups when entertaining guests.

5) Pot minder

A classic but ingenuous design, this ceramic disc rattles in your pot when your water, milk or hot chocolate comes to a boil.

6) Braille/tactile vessels and utensils

Measuring cups and spoons are available with braille or tactile markings.

Need classes?

Do you want to attend cooking classes like this? You should check out the other cooking workshops by Fortitude Culina.

Founder of Fortitude Culina, Aaron Yeoh, also has bigger plans. “We aim to create a smart training kitchen for the visually impaired by 2019 to support their independent living needs,” said Aaron. “If you wish to support or partner with Fortitude Culina in this journey, please contact me.”

Companies are focusing on diversity and inclusion to create more just, equitable, and effective workplaces that perform better—and it’s working. Diverse teams are smarter and more innovative than groups with similar backgrounds and experience. But while the workplace has become more diverse in terms of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, people with disabilities—like blindness or visual impairments—are continually underrepresented.

Daily life for visually impaired individuals has changed considerably thanks to the last four decades of advancement in assistive technologies. And in the last fifteen years, with the dawn of “digital accessibility,” inclusion into mainstream tech has become the new normal. The smartphone was the “biggest assistive aid to come along since Braille was invented in the 1820s” and is enabling blind and low-vision individuals to lead more independent lives. But while time and technology have changed many aspects of life for visually impaired people, some things remain the same. For many, accessing the workforce remains a challenge.

According to the National Federation for the Blind, more than 70% of the country’s four million visually impaired adults are without full-time jobs. While these numbers are more indicative of employer reticence than skill and ability, employers wonder “how will a visually impaired person get the job done, and at what cost?” In reality, 58% of necessary accommodations cost nothing and the rest fall under $500. At Accessibility Partners, a DC-based company which works with organizations to improve accessibility through technology, owner Dana Marlow prioritizes hiring people with disabilities. Marlow tells Workforce it’s not purely about doing the right thing but rather that it “just makes good business sense.”

In an early episode of the Be My Eyes Podcast, “What Blind People Need to Succeed at Work,” we explored this topic in depth with an HR inclusion specialist who specializes in training executives and business leaders in Manila. But hiring visually impaired employees has to be more than just a top-down approach—it needs to be a core piece of workplace culture. What sort of cultural beliefs are you building at your company? Here are some ideas for you to bring to your colleagues:В

Hiring visually impaired people is a rich opportunity for company growth because:

  • They are an untapped talent pool. With a 37% employment rate, people with blindness or low vision represent a capable yet untapped (and often underestimated) talent pool. While visually impaired people can’t fill all job roles, the limitations are very few, like ones that include driving.
  • They are natural problem solvers. The creative mindset and resilient attitude people with blindness or low vision need to manage their disability makes them innovative problem solvers. With proper instruction and clear job duties, visually impaired individuals perform well independently and on teams.
  • Assistive technology is becoming more and more mainstream.Blind New World writes “there has never been a better time to be blind.” That’s because tech has made assistive technologies more accessible and sophisticated than ever before. Leaders in the tech space are having a ripple effect on accessibility worldwide— and when apps are not yet totally usable for blind employees, tools like Be My Eyes are there to help bridge the gap.
  • Visual impairment in the workforce is set to rise. Estimates suggest visual impairment and blindness will rise in the coming years due to an aging population—a population eager to remain employed. Consider that 29% of Boomers ages 65-72 were on the job hunt in 2018. If you want to be relevant as an employer now and in the coming years, creating a culture of inclusivity with visually impaired people makes sense.

Making the workplace more inclusive for blind and low-vision individuals

In addition to the reasonable accommodations the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requires by law, workplaces can foster an inclusive culture for all by taking these steps.

  • Make the application process accessible. Offering an accessible application process sends the message that you’re an equal opportunity employer. Conversely, if blind or low-vision applicants struggle in completing the application due to accessibility, they may become discouraged from applying at all.
  • Move beyond the mental block of “how”. Don’t let your fear of visually impaired individuals’ capabilities rule decision making. Blind and low-vision individuals lead more independent lives than you may think. As a general rule, remember that a person with blindness or low vision wouldn’t apply for a job they didn’t think they could do. Move beyond the mental block of “how” a person with a visual impairment could do the job.
  • Use inclusive communication tools and methods. Use accessible tools for intraoffice messengers and other communications. During presentations, verbally describe charts, graphs, and other visual aids used. Identify yourself as you enter or leave a meeting room and encourage other employees to do the same.
  • Offer support by asking the right questions. Proactively support employees with blindness or low vision by asking about what kind of modifications they need to get the job done. For someone who has never had to ask for workplace accommodations, these inquiries may seem unimportant. Visually impaired individuals may be accustomed to these conversations, but employers can pleasantly surprise employees by asking first. Just make sure you understand what you can and cannot ask according to the ADA. Lastly, ask for feedback.

In some cases, it may seem like there is no accessible solution (for example, the company just spent millions of dollars switching to a new copy machine vendor with inaccessible touch screens and switching back would be an “undue burden” on the company). In those cases, there are tools, including Be My Eyes, that are built to bridge the gap.

Building a diverse and inclusive workplace can feel like a complex endeavor. But increasing the diversity of your workforce by hiring people with blindness or low vision is not as challenging as you think. What’s more, the opportunity for organizational growth may be richer than you expect.

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Cooking Without Looking: A Cooking Show with Blind and Visually Impaired Hosts

How to cook when you're blind or visually impairedTitle: Cooking without Looking—A short series about a live cooking show and its blind and visually impaired hosts and chef. A lot of fun and scrumptious learning lie ahead. Let’s get started! We know you’re going to enjoy this interesting team of culinary experts.

Intro: Dear Readers, We have had an exceptionally great year of Our Stories, stories about successful people who are blind or visually impaired doing the jobs and other things they love. This time we are veering off our normal path just a little to present you with a short series about some very interesting folks in Florida who do a live TV show called “Cooking without Looking”. The series will introduce you to Renee Rentmeester, the founder, creator and producer of the program, as well as Allen Preston and Annette Watkins, the amiable hosts of the show. We will also introduce you to Don White, the chef of the program. You will learn many fun and interesting things from this team and even get a few holiday tips and recipes along with links to videos of the show.

CareerConnect: Renee, thank you for talking with us about this wonderful program. Our first question for you is where did you come up with the idea of doing a program like this?

Renee: I came up with the idea for “Cooking without Looking” on January 5, 2001 in Miami. I had worked in TV since I was 17 years old, and over the years had sat on many boards; at one point, six at one time!

I wanted to create a personal way of giving back. I wanted it to be something that helped everyone, no matter what religion, race, age, economic status, etc. After much research I found that blindness was my cause. TV was the tool which I chose because it was what I know best, and it creates large scale change and promotes understanding of a group of people which, many don’t really know a lot about.

Since I was not blind and no one in my family or friend circles where blind, I had more research to do so I turned to blind listservs online which were primarily made up of blind people. I discovered what many of the issues were by reading their comments. I also found that the cooking listservs for the blind were the most popular. At that point, I found blind chef(s) in the area, a PBS station to air the piece and, the rest is history.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impairedCareerConnect: Where did you find your talented staff?

Each one is a special story.

I met Allen Preston, one of our two hosts, at a Braille Club meeting in West Palm Beach, where he was president of the club at the time.

Annette Watkins was a pharmaceutical sales executive when we met. Her friend Celia Chacon, a blind caterer (who passed away last year), told me about her, and we put her on the show as co-host. Annette was also a friend of our first sponsor, John Palmer at Magnifying America.

Our chef, Don White, is a friend of a friend who heard about us and sought us out. He was a blind restaurant owner and classically trained professional chef.

Now we’re all together, and we have a lot of laughs through the whole process of creating and producing the shows, as well as other things we get into to promote opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Do you or your staff do speaking engagements or other blindness advocacy activities? Examples?

Oh yes, we are all advocates and visit schools and speak to students as well as business groups and other non-profits’ functions.

Also, we are featured at area wine and food festivals and perform cooking demonstrations. We’re appearing November 15 at the Boca Raton Wine and Food Festival. We often perform cooking demonstrations at Macy’s as well.

CareerConnect: Was it a hard sell to find funding? Who helped support this idea and how can advertisers or others contribute?

It was a difficult sell because it sort of sounds counter intuitive, a TV show with blind people. But, through research, I found that Blind people enjoy TV 2 percent more than sighted people because it’s a large source of entertainment when they are not able to drive.

Another reason funding was difficult is that many people thought it was ONLY for the blind; some still do. But that’s incorrect. It’s a show of inclusion, one that’s a cooking show which happens to feature people who are blind doing the cooking and the hosting. Everyone gets great recipes, and learn amazing cooking tips. But, on top of that, we learn about eye care health, and hopeful research which can help all of us with our vision.

John Palmer of Magnifying America gave us our first year of advertising funds (13 shows); and Dr. Marc Gannon of the Low Vision Institute gave us seed money for our pilot program. He also appears on many of our shows during our ‘Macular Moment’ segment.

We are currently looking for advertisers for 20 shows which we will air on the Cooking Channel (58 Million homes) nationally. The advertising funds not only cover our production costs but also go to our Vision World Foundation which we use to provide services for folks who are blind/visually impaired/low vision. This is the only TV show where, when you advertise, you are actually doing good for someone while you market your product or service.

CareerConnect: Anything else you’d like to share about where you’ve been and where you are going?

Renee: Yes. We have created a “Cooking Without Looking” summer bootcamp for blind/visually impaired people who want to work professionally in the kitchen or even open their own catering business. It’s at Florida International University School of Hospitality, and participants receive a certificate of completion.

Also, we are starting entrepreneurship courses for blind/visually impaired people who want to start their own businesses. We are doing that with FIU as well.

This year we started a dining in the dark fundraiser called, “Lights in the Night” where we honor people who provide blindness care in other organizations. We believe that those of us who work with people who are blind/visually impaired should work together because we’re all here for the same purpose, and our services are varied and complementary.

The Contact: Cooking without Looking; Phone Number: 305.200.9104

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

My name is Rona Smith, I am 19 years-old and I am visually impaired. One of my main goals in life is to be independent. For example: I want to be able to cook some basic meals that are nutritious, but not too fancy. I just want to be able to cook enough to feed myself day-to-day.

There are several things I do in the kitchen to keep myself safe and make life easier. When I wash my hands, I always use soap in a pump as this is easier for me to manage than a bar of soap especially if my hands are already extremely slippery. I do not use my cane to navigate in the kitchen as this could potentially be dangerous so I stand it up by the door. However, the kitchen I use in my College is relatively small and easy to navigate around and I had some practice visits before starting to use it fully. I always use a tray to put ingredients and equipment onto so that I know exactly where they are and it helps to keep everything organized and contained. I also use the same area of work surface each time so that I know my way around. I wear a tabard with poppers instead of an apron as I can’t tie laces or string. I put a tea towel into the pocket of the tabard for easy access when wiping up quickly. When I am in the kitchen, I always grab things by the handles or on the solid side so that I don’t harm myself.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

There are many items of specialist equipment I use in the kitchen for safety and to make life easier. I have a pair of large oven gloves that go up to my elbow as I am not confident with heat. I worry about burning myself, but the gloves give me more confidence. I also cook most of my meals using a talking induction hob. Induction hobs are safer to use than standard hobs as only the circles where the pan are get hot. This means that I can control the buttons for temperature and time without the risk of potentially burning myself. All of the buttons on the induction hob are labelled in Braille. I have 2 induction safe pans that I can use with the induction hob. As long as you have an induction safe pan, you should be okay to use an induction hob. I have a battery-operated talking timer that I use for timing meals. The buttons are not labelled in Braille as they are too small, but I am familiar with the positions of them and can usually find the one I want quickly enough. I can also clip it onto my tabard so that I can prepare other ingredients on the go without having to return to where the timer is to check it. This also means that I can hear it better. I use a liquid level indicator for pouring liquids, because this device has 3 metal prongs that fit into the inside rim of a cup. When the cup is full, it beeps so that means that I can stop pouring. I use a Nimble device for cutting open certain types of plastic packaging. A Nimble is a rubber thimble that fits onto one of your fingers and it has a blade at the bottom. You place the blade onto a corner of the packaging you are trying to open and you press down really hard to open it. This only works with certain types of plastic packaging and on paper packaging. I bought a can opener from the Client Resources centre at OAB and I use it for opening tins that don’t have a ring pull. However, I much prefer to use tins that do have a ring pull and I place a spoon in the gap to help me start the ring pull off, because I don’t have much strength in my hands and sometimes, the start end is difficult to find.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

When I am cutting up food, I use a kiddy cutter safety knife as I only started learning to use a knife a year ago. This product is serrated to enable me to cut through food easily, but it isn’t sharp enough for me to cut my fingers by accident. When I am reading cooking instructions on packets for example: Uncle Ben’s rice, I use a scanning app on my iPhone along with a giraffe scanning stand. I either use Seeing AI or Envision AI. Most of the time, I use Envision AI as it works better with the College wifi and it can read the bold timing instructions whereas Seeing AI can only read instructions that are in a standard font size which isn’t always helpful, because timing instructions tend to be in bold text. Seeing AI is free to download and free to use, but Envision AI is free to download however, you need to buy either a monthly or yearly subscription to use it. Giraffe scanning stands are easy to assemble once you have practiced a few times. You place the phone in the neck of the stand and you put the packaging or sheet you are trying to read inside the flat bit. I sometimes use electronic talking scales for weighing out ingredients and I use measuring cups and spoons for measuring out specific amounts of liquids. When I am boiling pasta or vegetables, I use a chip pan. I fill the base of the chip pan with cold water. I tip handfuls of pasta or vegetables into the chip basket and boil on the hob. Using a chip pan makes life easier, because the water drains out through the holes of the chip basket.

My 10 top tips for other visually impaired young people who are cooking in the kitchen are:

  1. Label your spices in Braille so that you know what they are.
  2. For spreading smooth spreads, you may find it easier to use the back of a desert spoon instead of a knife. This is because sometimes with a knife, you could accidentally spread too hard and break the bread.
  3. For breaking eggs, bang the egg shell against the edge of a cup, pull the 2 halves apart and depending on how well you cracked it, it should go neatly into the cup.
  4. When placing a pan on the hob, always make sure that the handle is consistently at one side so you know where it is and don’t burn yourself.
  5. When boiling pasta, start from cold water, because this is safer and it cooks it quicker.
  6. Buying pre-grated cheese is easier and safer than grating cheese by hand.
  7. If you empty pasta into a plastic cereal container with a flip lid, it is then easier to manage and measure out handfuls. It helps to prevent spillages caused by a rip in the packet. Also, consider using Penne pasta or another large pasta shape as these will be easier to grab handfuls from.
  8. Square-shaped sliced bread is easier than other types of sliced bread, because it allows you to feel the edges more clearly to enable you to spread butter more effectively.
  9. Use tea towels that feel different or have different patterns on them so that you know what each one is for. For example: a tea towel with square patterns for wiping surfaces and a smooth one for drying up.
  10. A one-cup kettle is useful in the kitchen when making hot drinks. This type of kettle works like a standard kettle except the lid closes as soon as it is full of water and it is lighter and easier to manage as it only holds enough water for one cup at a time.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and I hope that my tips and suggestions are helpful. You don’t need to be able to cook fancy meals, all that matters is if you can make at least 2 different breakfasts, 2 different lunches and several different dinners that are basic, but that are nutritious and will keep you healthy.

Our team of teachers and specialists (many of whom are low vision/blind themselves) are highly trained in low vision and blind skills techniques and strategies.

We provide solutions to help you maintain your independence. From learning essential safe travel skills in your home and community to accessing your mail or favorite book, the LightHouse can accommodate any individual seeking to enhance self-reliance.

Our teachers will meet you at your level of readiness and desire to move forward. Every person has their own journey and pace for learning new skills. As long as you are open to learning how you can do something in a new way with your changing vision, we are ready to provide the training and support you need.

For those who are new to low vision, blindness or have a recent change in their vision, we recommend our flagship program, CVCL.

Immersion Training: Changing Vision, Changing Life

Changing Vision, Changing Life (CVCL) is an introductory immersion program for adults who are newly blind or have experienced a change in vision. The program introduces basic and essential skills to live confidently at home and in the community. Topics include magnification, organizational skills, time management, use of adaptive aids and accessing print materials provide students solutions and strategies for living with low vision or blindness. In addition, each class session includes a discussion on adjusting to changing vision.

While CVCL introduces students to invaluable blindness or low vision training and techniques, the bigger purpose is to bring people together, learning and sharing experiences together. CVCL instinctively motivates students to study further and know the right choices for later. Many students who attend CVCL return to leading full, active lives while remaining enthusiastically engaged with the LightHouse.

Students need not live in the Bay Area to attend CVCL. Our facilities in Napa and San Francisco are equipped with lodging and meals to keep you comfortable and nourished throughout the training.

In addition to CVCL, listed below are the core learning opportunities in which you can participate as a student. All of these skills can be learned from our headquarters in San Francisco and most of them from our satellite offices: LightHouse of Marin, LightHouse of the North Coast, or LightHouse of the East Bay.

Orientation and Mobility (O&M)

“Orientation” refers to the ability to know where you are and where you want to go, whether you’re moving from one room to another, walking route from your home to downtown, taking a bus from one place to another or ‘orienting’ to a new worksite or school campus.

“Mobility” refers to the ability to move safely, efficiently, and effectively from one place to another. This means walking confidently without tripping or falling, street crossing and use of public transportation. Learning mobility also includes learning the use of essential tools such as a cane or even a monocular for those with low vision, and strategies, such as listening for traffic patterns when crossing the street or using accessible pedestrian signals.

LightHouse teachers recognize that traveling ‘independently’ is done in so many ways and once basic skills are learned, students can concurrently learn alternate systems for travel such as Human Guide skills and transit using community Paratransit. Additionally, LightHouse Orientation and Mobility Specialists also provide training in navigation systems such as the Trekker Breeze; current mobility applications on smartphones for travel such as BlindSquare or orientation devices such as the Brain Port.

The ability to move about independently, with confidence and grace is an essential step towards self-confidence, independence and living a full life.

Essential Living Skills

Essential living skills, often called Independent Living Skills or Daily Living Skills, are the essential skills you use in your daily routine. Your approach to these skills can change if your vision changes. Our team of skilled Certified Rehabilitation Specialist, Independent Living Skills and Kitchen Skills Teachers provide you the tips, strategies, simple modifications and tools to continue your routine at home, school or work. Many of these skills are transferable other areas of your life, for example, cleaning/clearing a table requires tactile and/or visual scanning patterns or techniques, as does orientation and mobility, reading Braille or reading using a video magnifier.

Work with your teacher to prioritize the most essential skills for your independent living and daily routine. Here are some of the areas we address:

  • Personal Hygiene Care
  • Food Preparation and Kitchen Skills (from list making and shopping to cooking)
  • Clothing Care and developing and managing your wardrobe
  • Paper Management (bills, correspondences)
  • Organizational and labeling (visual and non visual)
  • Household Management and housekeeping
  • Record Keeping and financial/household document management
  • Money/banking management
  • Time and Calendaring Management Tools
  • Shopping (from on-line to in-store shopping)
  • Social and Recreational Involvement – getting back to a routine of fun!
  • Smartphone training and relevant apps

Braille

Braille, an accessible tactile reading and writing system, is essential to blind literacy. It is also crucial in pursuing education and employment.

The LightHouse is dedicated to teaching Braille, and offers individual sessions every day of the week. Our programs support businesses, schools and community agencies with the aim of providing and maintaining access to Braille.

Adult students of all ages can benefit from learning Braille for simple label writing and labeling and playing cards with friends and family, to learning contracted braille for note-taking and reading text books or documents or learning refreshable displays in tandem with computer use or smartphones.

On Sunday 7 February, Paralympic cycling gold medallist Lora Fachie MBE took part in a special edition of The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 about Cooking Blind. Read more about how ckbk is proving to be a boon for Lora and other visually-impaired cooks below.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Naqi with Alun, another of his regular guides at Finsbury Parkrun

I miss Parkrun… the free Saturday timed 5K runs, enjoyed regularly by millions around the world before we entered these strange times. One of the things I really enjoyed about Parkrun (as well as getting rid of some excess calories and building up an appetite for more cooking) was that I quite regularly acted as guide-runner for Naqi, a blind engineering student. This was a lot of fun. As Naqi and I ran – and I did my best to warn him of potholes, kerbs and other obstacles – he told about his some of his other pastimes. Naqi is an extremely proficient and competitive tennis player, for example (the ball is audible, in case you were wondering).

I realized from getting to know Naqi that smartphones have helped to give the visually impaired much more autonomy. Thanks to assistive technologies like VoiceOver built into modern phones, it was no trouble for Naqi to coordinate with me by text message to meet up, and I could message him if I was running late.

Something I hadn’t thought about too much, though, was some of the areas which remain problematic for those with visual impairment. One of these, it turns out, is cookbooks. Few cookbooks exist in braille form – perhaps because, if sticky fingers are a problem for regular cookbooks, they are even more of an issue for braille!

eBook/Kindle versions are one possibility, but these are generally only available for the most recently published cookbooks. In any case, the eBook format, while excellent for reading a novel, is not a great fit for navigating a collection of recipes. Even worse, the text-to-speech functionality is disabled on many eBooks for rights reasons, rendering them of little use to a blind cook.

We were first made aware of how much difference ckbk could make for the visually impaired when blind cook and technology enthusiast Adrian Higginbotham chimed in on this Twitter conversation with TV food historian Dr Annie Gray.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Navigating life as a first-year college student is hard enough — a new city, new classmates, new roommates, etc.

Now imagine what that’s like for someone who physically can’t see.

But that hasn’t deterred San Antonio native Noah Cook. At three months old, Cook was diagnosed with glaucoma, a condition where the fluid in the eye builds up pressure and causes vision loss. He lost sight in his right eye as a child, and in his left eye during his senior year of high school, leaving him completely blind going into his college career.

“Losing my sight at that time was really tough, because my friends went off to college while I was still adjusting to this new lifestyle,” says Cook. “But my parents taught me to be independent and courageous. I knew I’d have to find ways to manage.”

While taking classes at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Cook learned about Baylor professor Bryan Shaw’s research on increasing educational accessibility for the blind. Cook knew he had to reach out; this was his chance to pursue higher education.

“I’m passionate about STEM studies, but never felt I belonged in that field due to its lack of accommodations,” says Cook. “But that all changed once I met Dr. Shaw and, ultimately, came to Baylor. Everyone has been so accepting and helpful, making Baylor one of my favorite places to be.”

Now, Cook is studying biochemistry while helping Shaw with his research on how blind persons learn about science.

“Noah is extremely smart, and particularly excels at memorization and mental math,” says Shaw. “Since he can’t see, he has to utilize his brain power differently. From completing an analytical chemistry problem to walking across campus, he has to get creative with solutions. He’s capable of anything.”

Cook feels blessed to be at Baylor. “I can’t believe I am actually here,” he says. “We’re making the field better for everybody, and I get to be a part of that.”

Moving forward, Cook hopes to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry, but for now, he’s focused on experiencing his time at Baylor to the fullest.

“At the end of the day, I’m looking to just build relationships with people and just make friends,” Cook said. “I won’t let my disability get in the way of that.”

Posted on Oct.05, 2010, under Low Vision Tips

Kitchen Confidence
From grocery shopping to cooking and organizing when you’re visually impaired

Preparing and enjoying a home-cooked meal is one of life’s most satisfying pleasures and provides a feast for all the senses. Fortunately, even those with low vision can often continue to navigate their kitchens with confidence by making a few simple adjustments. Here are some we recommend:

Reduce clutter -Get rid of dishes and appliances that are duplicates, broken or rarely used. Throw out seldom-used spices and expired food items.

Use color – Mark your cabinet and drawer handles with brightly colored paint or cloth tape to aid in visually locating them. Rewrite favorite recipes in large type on color-coded recipe cards. Use a different color to distinguish among poultry, beef, vegetable, dessert and other recipes.

Clearly label foods and shelves – Write names of foods in large letters with a black pen on masking tape or adhesive labels. Try using different numbers of rubber bands wrapped around jars and bottles to distinguish between similarly sized containers — for example, one band on a milk carton, two bands on a juice carton.

Maximize your microwave – Use microwave ovens instead of traditional ovens whenever possible to reduce the possibility of burns. When using conventional ovens, cook only on front burners, and use “hot mitts” instead of pot holders for better protection.

Go big on timers – Use talking timers or timers with large numerals.

Cut down on the need to slice and dice -Purchase ready-to-use sliced, chopped, diced and grated foods whenever possible.

Add contrast to your cutting and measuring – Use a light-colored cutting board for dark foods; a dark board for light-colored foods. Use dark-colored cups for water, clear or light-colored liquids; use light-colored cups for dark liquids.

Take command of your knives – Use broad-bladed knives for better control. Establish a standard location to place knives when not in use. Place dirty knives behind the faucet until ready to wash.

Use extra safeguards when pouring – Use your finger to detect the level of liquid in a cup. Place a tray under cups and glasses while pouring, to catch any excess.

Bend your measuring spoons -Rather than pouring liquids into a spoon, bend the handles to a 90-degree angle to create a dipping spoon that can be lowered directly into the liquids, which can be stored in wide-mouthed containers.

Make a shopping plan of action – When heading to the grocery store, organize your shopping list to follow the flow of the store’s layout. If you are looking for specialty items, call ahead to see if they are in stock and where they are located.

Let your computer do the legwork – Many grocery stores now offer online shopping and home delivery. Take advantage!

5 Easy Ways to Make a Low Vision Accessible Kitchen

For people with low vision who are aging in place, the ability to be independent is at the forefront of their daily concerns.

Often, one of the major areas that this comes to fruition is in the kitchen.

Everyone eats and needs to prepare food and drinks multiple times a day, but the kitchen can be an obstacle course of challenges for a person with low vision.

Cutting food items, cooking, and preparing meals can be difficult and even dangerous if your kitchen isn’t properly accessible for low vision needs.

Thankfully, there are a variety of tricks and accessories available to help make cooking safe and easy for people with vision limitations.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

1. Simplify the space

All too often our kitchen cabinets are drawers are cluttered and difficult to navigate. Countertops are taken over, and we don’t have an inch of free space to use in meal preparation.

All of these problems become even more significant for people with a visual impairment.

  • Remove or store away items that don’t get used frequently in order to get rid of clutter.
  • Keep items like pots, pans, and stirring spoons close to the work area or near the oven where they will be used.
  • Organize heavy items like coffee makers that you use on a daily basis in an easy-to-reach space on the countertop. Keep other less-used appliances like electric mixers and crockpots in places that are out of the way, but don’t require too much maneuvering when you need them.
  • Use cup hooks or adhesive hooks to hang pot holders, utensils, and other frequently used items within easy reach.
  • Consistently store the same items in the same places. Whether you’re living alone or preparing a kitchen for someone else, being consistent will help people with visual impairments find things much more easily.
  • Keep the floor clear and easy to navigate, cleaning up any spills as they happen.

2. Choose a labeling system

The range of labeling systems available today includes a variety of options such as color-coding, braille, and even talking options.

Depending on what you find most functional, the type of household you’re a part of, and who else is using the kitchen, you may find different systems to be more effective.

No matter which system you use, try these ideas to help it be more functional:

  • Adhere labels as soon as possible when purchasing items from the store.
  • Organize items in a user-friendly way, storing items in the same place each time, and keeping food items in a separate location from cleaning supplies.
  • Don’t be afraid to make tweaks to your system as you use the kitchen. Customizing your labels and organization helps make them work better for you, and that’s the point!

3. Try talking alarms and appliances

For people with visual impairments, talking appliances and equipment can be a great boon. These tools are easy to operate without having to worry about the ability to see them.

They clearly read out timing, operational settings, and other options so that you can navigate things like temperature, color, volume measurement, and even different food labels.

Often, these talking tools are versatile, easy to use, and available with a range of different languages to accommodate a variety of user needs.

4. Select high-contrast tools

For better visibility of food preparation or meal plating, you can try divided plates or trays to make it easier to see the different foods.

Brightly colored dishes can also make it easier to see not only the dishes themselves but also the food on them, helping you eat more confidently.

Scooper plates and bowls can also be a great solution, helping you more confidently scoop food onto utensils without pushing it off the plate.

5. Anticipate spills

Nobody cooks or bakes without making a mess! But even so, individuals with visual impairment may become frustrated when they make messes or spill ingredients in the kitchen.

By using a shallow baking sheet or cafeteria tray as a food preparation area, you can easily contain spills thanks to the raised edge!

Simply containing the mess makes accidents a non-event, and helps a person with visual impairment remain motivated to make his or her own meals.

One other way to anticipate spills in the kitchen is to place larger dinner plates underneath dinnerware and bowls. The larger dinner plate will catch spills from the main plate, and will prevent potential frustration and embarrassment at mealtime!

Summary

Living with low vision doesn’t have to mean a loss of independence. Taking these simple steps should help put the joy back in cooking and preparing meals for yourself and your loved ones.

If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about different topics relevant to caregiving and disabled living, check out some more of our great tips and tricks on Caregiver University.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Co-Founder of Rehabmart and an Occupational Therapist since 1993. Mike has spent his professional career working in multiple areas of Occupational Therapy, including pediatrics, geriatrics, hand therapy, ergonomics and inpatient / outpatient rehabilitation. Mike enjoys writing articles that help people solve complex therapeutic problems and make better product choices.

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Did you know that freezing fresh herbs in olive oil is a great way to preserve them for future cooking? Or that measuring ingredients by weight is the key to successful baking?

Get all these invaluable kitchen hacks as well as great recipes from Cooking Without Looking TV Show’s Quarantine Cuisine Edition. This is a special weekly cooking series on TV and in podcast by Renee Rentmeester, creator of the iconic Cooking Without Looking TV Show. Like the original, this one features blind and visually impaired cooks.

First live TV show with blind cooks

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

From garlic mashed potatoes to rosemary chicken all the recipes shown here are tried and tested by blind and visually impaired people in their kitchens. Rentmeester came up with the idea of creating a TV show featuring blind and visually impaired cooks in 2001. She called it a personal way of giving back in an interview.

“I wanted it to be something that helped everyone, no matter what religion, race, age, economic status, etc. After much research I found that blindness was my cause. TV was the tool which I chose because it was what I know best, and it creates large scale change and promotes understanding of a group of people which, many don’t really know a lot about”, says Rentmeester.

Rentmeester is not disabled and did tons of research online to understand the needs and concerns of blind and visually impaired people. She started off with blind listservs online and found that blind people were most interested in cooking. She uses the information online to understand the concerns of blind and visually impaired people better. She then looked for blind chefs and cooks in her area, and approached PBS channel. That’s how the first TV show ever featuring blind cooks came into being.

Blind cooks share recipes, kitchen hacks

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

The show started off with hosts Allen Preston and Annette Watkins, who remain as hosts even today. The third was Don White, a blind restaurant owner and classically trained professional chef, who has now passed away.

“I have spent my life volunteering my time to advocate for people who are blind and severely visually impaired, as well as for those with other disabilities”, says Preston. “Now am proud to be part of the team that helps encourage other visually impaired people to maintain their independence”. “We are all-inclusive, working with people who are blind or visually impaired as well as with those who aren’t”, adds Watkins. Watkins is visually impaired. Her eyesight started to reduce later in life from Stargardt’s disease. This is a group of inherited diseases causing light-sensitive cells in the inner back of the eye to weaken. “This includes the staff and crew, lighting, sound, director, people to be interviewed, and those cooking on the show, and we mingle with the audience”.

Every week the Cooking Without Looking TV Show Quarantine Cuisine Edition has sessions featuring a rotating line of cooks who are blind and visually impaired. To help the audience follow the recipes, the steps are narrated and there are specific tips and techniques given for visually impaired people. This includes tips like listening to the sound of bubbles pop to realise when the yeast is taking effect. Or putting dark coloured ingredients on light coloured dishes or plates so the contrast can help those who are partially sighted.

At the end of each segment, the recipe is shown on the screen and read aloud. All of this is peppered with frequent reminders on how visually impaired cooks should ensure they stay safe while working in the kitchen.

Featuring adaptive gadgets for visually impaired cooks

Cooking Without Looking TV Show features a whole range of adaptive technologies for cooking that cater to cooks who are blind and visually impaired. This includes adaptive cooking gadgets like talking thermometers and handheld barcode readers that help identify the contents of cans. Some other useful adaptive cooking gadgets for blind and visually impaired cooks featured on the show are tactile marking kits to make burners more user-friendly by putting raised letters or braille symbols on control knobs.

Recipes apart, Cooking Without Looking TV Quarantine Cuisine Edition also highlights the tremendous work done by organisations working to empower blind and visually impaired people. A recent guest on the show was Pastor Kevin Perrine, Executive Director of Diverse Opportunities for the Visually Impaired in Toledo, Ohio. The organisation helps people who are visually impaired and also counsels their families. Pastor Perrine, who is visually impaired, is a trained cook with certification in culinary arts training. On the show he shared his recipe for a Slow Cooker Fudge.

Fred Schroeder, President of the World Blind Union, says Cooking Without Looking TV Show has a powerful message for all. “Blind people need encouragement to live normal lives and the sighted public needs the opportunity to learn that blindness does not render people helpless nor grant them with superhuman gifts. Cooking Without Looking TV Show shows blind people doing normal things, and that is a powerful message for the sighted public and for blind people themselves.”

“It teaches sighted people about the real lives of blind people, and it empowers the self-esteem of people with vision challenges and blindness”, says Rentmeester, who is now has the opportunity to produce the show for Netflix. “We will shoot a pilot for our programme, “Cooking Without Looking” show. We have future plans to shoot a show in Cape Town, South Africa with our sister organization, League of the Friends of the Blind”.

You can check out Cooking Without Looking TV Show Quarantine Cuisine Edition here.

Click here to get details of episodes.

Watch in Sign Language

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COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED
AND BLIND INDIVIDUALS OF ALL AGES

If you have a vision problem that prevents you from carrying out the activities of daily living, getting an education or a job, there is help. The Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired can provide many services to persons with severe visual impairments.

A DBVI Success Story!

Watch a short video about a client who sought help getting employment! (MP4 format)

DBVI State Plan

DBVI State Plan page

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

The goal of vocational rehabilitation services is to help you get a job, retain or return to employment.

You could receive:

  • Individual counseling and guidance, and vocational assessment.
  • Orientation and mobility instruction to develop independent travel skills.
  • Other training, devices, treatment, job placement and follow-up services to enable you to succeed in a job.
  • Starting at age 14, VR services are also available to assist students in transitioning from high school to work. See our Youth and Transition page

Extended Support Programs

The Extended Support Programs (Basic Support and Head Injured Support) provide services to persons with the most severe disabilities in order that they may maintain jobs in community-based supported employment settings gained through their participation in either of the two VR Programs the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services offers.

Business Enterprise Program

Provides training and support to manage snack bars, cafeterias and vending machine facilities on state federal and municipal properties.

Visit the Business Enterprise Program homepage for more information

Independent Living Services

  • Adaptive skill training provides alternative skills to accomplish activities of daily living.
  • Homemaking skills training may include meal preparation, shopping, and cleaning.
  • Individuals may be trained in a variety of personal management skills, such as managing money, dialing a telephone, and telling time.
  • Mobility instruction assists individuals to travel safely through the use of alternative techniques.
  • The services are provided by our multidisciplinary staff in conjunction with vision rehabilitation therapists from the IRIS Network.

Education Services for Children

Comprehensive services for children and families begin as soon as a child is identified as blind or visually impaired. Our multidisciplinary staff, in conjunction with teachers from Catholic Charities Maine, work with parents and schools to develop and implement an individualized education program.

Financial Services

Any person legally blind and in need, may apply for SSI or SSDI at the nearest Social Security Office. For information, please call: 622-8348 or 1-800-772-1213

Real Estate Tax Exemption

Persons who are legally blind may receive a real estate tax exemption of up to $4,000.00 on their property valuation by applying through your local town office. You must provide a medical report that states you are “legally blind”

I.D. Cards for Individuals who are Visually Impaired and Blind

A card is available to visually impaired people who do not have a driver’s license. This card is acceptable identification for cashing checks, and other transactions. It may be obtained at any Department of Motor Vehicles office. The fee is $5.00.

Library Services

Maine State Library Talking Book Program provides books and magazines in a recorded cassette or disc format to people who are visually impaired, blind, or physically handicapped. Applications are available from the Maine State Library and from public library service centers throughout the state, or by calling the Special Services toll-free numbers:

DBVI State Rehabilitation Council

The mission of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired is to provide leadership and diverse viewpoints in partnership with the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired to develop and evaluate programs and services; to identify priorities that help create opportunities, increase independence and broaden access to the workplace for citizens of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.

For more information, please call the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired office nearest you. Visits the BRS Office Directory for a list of office locations and contact information.

If you have suggestions for improving this website or have difficulty accessing any of its content, please contact: [email protected]

Stay Informed

Follow us on social media or sign up for email alerts.

Credits

The Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) offers independent living training designed to help people of any age who are blind or visually impaired gain the skills of daily living needed to lead a full and productive life. Through a joint partnership between the blind or visually impaired individual and the instructors, an assessment, and plan of instruction is developed. Areas of instruction include, rehabilitation teaching, orientation and mobility, eye health education, and low vision. There are specific programs that are geared to seniors age 55 and older.

CBVI staff will assess a person’s strengths and needs and provide information about the resources available through CBVI/and or the community. Together with the individual, CBVI provides and/or coordinates services appropriate to meet needs that have been identified.

Rehabilitation Teachers provide instruction in activities of daily living, this may include how to use specialized adaptive equipment, communication skills such as Braille, typing, and writing guides and assistive technology use. Kitchen safety, meal preparation as well as recreation and leisure activities are also taught in the home, and or school.

Orientation and mobility instruction teaches methods for safe, independent travel training at home, school, work, and in the community for all ages. Accessing various modes of transportation such as para-transit, access link, and train travel, are taught. “Orientation” refers to the ability to know where you are and where you want to go, whether you’re moving from one room to another or walking downtown for a shopping trip.

Eye Health nurses offer education and instruction on proper eye care, diabetic education, nutrition and adaptive devices such as talking glucometers and talking blood pressure machines. The nurses will assist individuals with identifying medications, and arranging medical care necessary to restore vision and/or prevent further vision loss for those individuals with emergent eye health needs and who meet eligibility requirements.

Low vision is the term used to describe significant visual impairment that cannot be corrected fully with glasses, contact lenses, medication or eye surgery. CBVI will help people with low vision acquire visual aides appropriate for their degree of vision loss in social situations, at work, school, and when involved in leisure time or recreational activities.

Independent Living Older Blind – Services specifically for those receiving independent living services that are age 55 and over.

LEAP offers speech and magnification assistive technology training to consumers age 55 and over. Assistive technology has been placed in libraries throughout the state. Classes are being offered in basic and intermediate computer and iPad skills. This initiative is a collaborative effort between The NJ State Library Talking Book and Braille Center, Advancing Opportunities, and the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. For more information, please use this link: LEAP (Technology Classes Age 55+)

ASPIRE programs are peer support programs geared towards those individuals that are blind and visually impaired who are that are 55 and older. Each groups focus is dependent upon the desires of the participants. Many groups address adjustment to vision loss and community intergration. have speakers, educational resources and encourage social activities. The ASPIRE network has peer led support groups throughout all 21 counties within New Jersey.

This retreat program is for blind or visually impaired CBVI participants who are 55 and better. The week-long event will take place in NJ Shore community. A SHORE Thing is an all-inclusive program that provides real-life experiential learning. Participants in this program will obtain information and an introduction to skills in: independent living, coping with vision loss, assistive technology, self-advocacy, health and wellness, orientation and mobility, leisure activities and confidence building.

Celebrating 100 years of Nestlé in Brazil, the Swiss food brand Maggi (which is owned by the food industry giant) has teamed up with the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind to create a unique object: The first sensory cookbook for the visually impaired.

Currently available only in Brazil — which is home to 6.5 million people with blindness or some visual impairment — the culinary guide is titled Cooking Blindly and is eagerly awaited elsewhere in the world.

From recipes to utensils to audio transcription, everything has been designed to make the joys of cooking more accessible to this category of the population, who may be less likely to try their hand in the kitchen.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

An experience for all the senses

The cookbook is billed as a “sensory guide” and an experience for all the senses. It features 37 aromas of herbs, spices, and cheeses used in Brazilian cuisine for recognition and identification by smell, as well as embossed and high relief illustrations to explore through touch. Plus, audio transcriptions are available for all images, recipes and cooking tips in the book.

According to Maggi, cooking is an activity that everyone should be able to enjoy. In an effort to make it more accessible to its target users, the book is split into three parts. The first section goes over the basics, with utensils and practical advice for culinary creations. In the second part, it’s time to get cooking.

And the final section of the cookbook is dedicated specifically to the needs of visually impaired cooks, with utensils like audio weighing scales and a finger protector for cutting (an accessory could be handy for clumsy cooks too). More details here.

This article was published via AFP Relaxnews

All images: Courtesy Cooking Blindly/ Maggi

Many people imagine blindness as complete darkness. But that’s not entirely true.

The term “blindness” covers a broad spectrum of visual disability, from when your sight is impaired enough to interfere with daily activities like reading, cooking or driving, up to total blindness.

Each person’s experience of blindness is unique. Blindness has many causes, and each affects eyesight differently:

  • retinal diseases like age-related macular degeneration create distortion or blind spots in the central vision.
  • diseases like glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa impact peripheral sight, creating “tunnel vision.”
  • genetic conditions like albinism cause low vision and make people highly sensitive to light.
  • eye conditions like nystagmus affect how the eyes move and coordinate, reducing vision and depth perception.
  • some congenital conditions may impair sight, leaving someone with only light perception.
  • damage to the optic nerve, which sends signals from the eye to the brain, or an injury to the part of the brain that processes information from our eyes can affect the ability to perceive or recognize objects or visual information.

Legal blindness

Legal blindness is a level of blindness that has been defined by law to limit some activities for safety reason, such as driving, or to determine eligibility for disability-related government programs and benefits.

Someone is considered to be legally blind when:

  • visual acuity is 20/200 (or 6/60) or less in both eyes after correction, and/or
  • a visual field of 20 degrees or narrower.

You do not need to be legally blind to access services from the CNIB Foundation, Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada or other CNIB organizations. As soon as your eyesight begins to affect your daily life, you’re eligible.

Deafblindness

Deafblindness is a combined loss of hearing and vision that results in significant challenges accessing information. Some people are born with Deafblindness, while others acquire it later in life.

Although this summary contains many true statements, none are absolutely true, because every person with a disability is an individual. This summary is about disabilities, but you are not working with disabilities, you are working with individuals who have disabilities. Ask if the individual needs assistance and what terminology he or she prefers. With this in mind, consider the following general guidelines.

Ask if your assistance is needed

People who are blind or who have low vision have long been patronized and addressed as if they were children. They have more often been told what to do rather than asked what they would prefer. This attitude is not acceptable toward anyone. Instead, always ask if your assistance is needed and how you can assist.

If someone who is blind or who has low vision needs to be led while walking, they will ask for assistance or accept your offer to help. Then they will grasp your arm just above your elbow and lag behind you a half step. Your motion will tell them what to expect. It is not necessary to pull, push or jerk the person. This tactic is not only awkward and confusing but also degrading. If someone is about to encounter danger, voice your concerns calmly and clearly.

If someone needs assistance in taking their seat, show them to their chair by putting their hand on the back of the chair. They will be able to seat themselves easily. If they need assistance while eating, they may request that you read the menu aloud or tell them the position of the food on their plates. If they need assistance in locating an object or location, they may ask for directions or accept your offer to help. In these cases, give directions as clearly as possible. Words like “left” and “right” are most helpful, especially when the directions reflect the way the person who is blind or who has low vision is facing.

Be verbally descriptive when giving directions

Pointing and gesturing have little meaning to people who are blind or who have low vision. Saying “It is the fourth door on your right after you exit the elevator” would be more helpful. Avoid using visually oriented references such as “Over there near the green plant.” Also, remember to describe things from the individual’s perspective, not yours.

Support facial expressions or visual cues with verbal cues. For example, say “yes” when nodding your head, “I don’t know” while shrugging your shoulders, and “bye” when waving.

Avoid actions that may distract guide dogs while they are working

Remember that guide dogs are working dogs, not pets. Avoid anything that might divert their attention, such as petting, touching, grabbing their harnesses or calling out to them. Their masters’ lives depend upon their alertness.

Identify yourself

Upon entering a room, say, “This is Susan. I am just looking in the cabinets for brochures.” Don’t just leave a room without saying something. If the person who is blind doesn’t hear you leave, they may begin talking, only to discover you’re not there.

Promote a safe environment

If you work or live with someone who is blind or who has low vision, be mindful of potential hazards. Never leave a door ajar. Keep corridors clear of clutter. When moving furniture, inform people who are blind or who have low vision if the change affects them. Tell them when you bring new items into their environment, describing what they are, and most important, where you put them. Do not move anything (furniture, personal items, etc.) after the person knows where they are. This can be frustrating and, in some cases, dangerous.

If you are accompanying persons who are blind or who have low vision, and you decide to leave them alone in an unfamiliar area, make sure they are near to and aware of something they can touch, such as a wall, table or railing so they don’t feel unsafe.

Respect personal boundaries

Allow people who are blind or who have low vision their personal space. Don’t physically touch such a person unless you are certain it is appropriate.

Talk directly to those who are blind or visually impaired

Address those are blind or who have low vision directly, not through their companions. Remember that they can hear as well as you. If you notice a spot or stain on their clothing, tell them privately.

Be respectful and assume nothing

The most important thing to remember in any conversation with someone with a disability is to assume nothing. When questioning people about their blindness, be respectful. Keep in mind that this is personal information. If you have a question about what to do, what language or terminology to use or what assistance, if any, might be needed, the person with the disability should be your first and best resource. Do not be afraid to ask.

Be patient

Be patient not only with the person with the disability but with yourself. Frustration may come from both sides of the conversation and needs to be understood and dealt with by both parties.

Don’t condescend

The words “blind” and “low vision” are adjectives, not nouns. Instead of saying, “The blind have many resources,” say “Persons who are blind have many resources.” Use people-first language. Never use a condescending tone of voice or terminology. Don’t say things like “Oh, you poor dear. You are so very brave.” Also, refrain from using qualifying statements, such as “She’s pretty for a girl who is blind.”

Don’t worry about phrases like, “See you tomorrow,” “Watch out!” and “Look at this.” These phrases are part of the vernacular. People who are blind or who have low vision use these phrases too.

Focus on the overall goal, not the disability.

Keep your overall goal in mind during any conversation with a person with a disability. It is simply communication between two individuals. Ultimately, what is communicated, not how it is communicated, is what matters.

Questions?

For answers or to schedule an appointment, contact the Access Center at [email protected] or call 360-546-9739. Secure fax: 360-546-9421.

Location and hours

The Access Center is located in Classroom Building.

Originally published January 20, 2020

Last reviewed January 25, 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Living with low vision or blindness can present numerous challenges on a day-to-day basis. Simply running errands, preparing meals, recognizing faces, and performing tasks at home or work can become overly complicated and frustrating, to say the least. Fortunately, there are plenty of services available to offer assistance to visually impaired people, and access to these services is even easier thanks to smarthphones and other digital devices.

In order to help you or a family member find the best iOS or Android device apps designed specifically for the visually impaired, we have compiled a list of our top 10 favorites.

  1. NavCog

Created by IBM Research scientist Chieko Asakawa and Carnegie Mellon University Cognitive Assistance Laboratory, NavCog is a brand new app that allows the visually impaired to successfully navigate the world around them with turn-by-turn guidance not unlike GPS. The app is a computer vision navigation application that provides real-time information about where an individual is, which direction they are facing, and other information about the surroundings. The app can be used to navigate both indoors and outdoors using Bluetooth signals.

  1. EyeNote

Designed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, EyeNote allows users to scan U.S. paper currency to determine the denomination. The application is a valuable aid for visually impaired or blind individuals when making purchases or transactions. The app can communicate the value of the paper money via tone, vibration, or spoken word.

  1. TapTapSee

Using the camera technology on iPhones and other devices, TapTapSee was designed specifically to help the blind or visually impaired accurately identify everyday objects without the need for sighted assistance. Simply tapping the screen to take a photo, the user will hear the app correctly name the item.

  1. Big Browser

Navigating the web can be particularly difficult for these with low vision. Big Browser allows users to adjust color themes and zoom in on content for an easier read. The app is also equipped with a larger keyboard and controls that are easier to see.

  1. RAY App

The RAY App replaces the traditional click interaction of Android devices with touch and directional swipe gestures for easy, eye-free navigation. From voice-operated messaging to online audio books and color identification, the RAY App makes any Android device visually impaired-friendly.

  1. iBrailler

Comfortably and quickly type and text using a customizable brailler that utilizes VoiceOver as well as audio feedback to ensure simple navigation. The app also features a blind-friendly design that eliminates typing accidents.

  1. AFB CareerConnect

Created by The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), CareerConnect is a free online resource for those who are blind or visually impaired. The app allows users to explore careers and learn about navigating the employment process from others who are blind or visually impaired.

  1. Voice Dream Reader

Voice Dream Reader is a voice-based mobile app that allows the blind or visually impaired to read anything that contains text, such as websites, local files on your device, Bookshare, and more. The app offers customizable text and reading options, such as different font sizes and colors, as well as text-to-speech reading in a variety of voices.

  1. ViA

With more than 500,000 apps available for iPhone and Android devices, narrowing down apps that are suited for the visually impaired can be overwhelming. ViA was created by the Braille Institute to make apps designed for those with low vision or blindness easier to find and more accessible. The app can be customized to find apps that are appropriate for children.

  1. A Blind Legend

A Blind Legend is one of the first audio-only mobile video games available that is aimed at both sighted and non-sighted players. Using three-dimensional sound, the game features a blind knight who must journey to the High Castle Kingdom to rescue his wife with the help of his daughter Louise. Players navigate and interact with the game using the touchscreen.

To make an appointment at the USC Roski Eye Institute, please call (323) 442-6335 or contact us to schedule a consultation today.

IDC School of Design IIT Bombay, India

IDC School of Design IIT Bombay, India

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ASSETS ’20: The 22nd International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility

ABSTRACT

Meal preparation is a complex multisensorial task that requires many decisions to be made based on the appearance of the dish. This alienates individuals with low vision and makes cooking meals independently inaccessible. Products designed for individuals with low vision rarely aid with tasks that involve application of heat. As people with vision impairments have different requirements for technology, it is imperative that the behaviours and problems faced are thoroughly understood. A study to understand how users perform tasks involving heat application was conducted. Four cooking techniques commonly used to prepare Indian dishes were identified and interviews were carried out with a diverse group of visually impaired persons (n=12). The findings include insights about behaviours, problems and strategies employed by visually impaired persons while preparing meals using the following techniques: Boiling, Simmering, Roasting, and Frying. This work describes factors that affect behaviour during meal preparation by Indian visually impaired persons, and the various strategies used to mitigate challenges faced. The findings have been used to propose a set of considerations that have implications on the design of accessibility tools such as assistive devices, rehabilitation programs and strategies.

Tips to support an effective engagement process with people who are blind or who have a vision impairment.

General

The term ‘vision impaired’ is generally accepted by most people. The term ‘blind’ may not be acceptable, particularly among those who consider they are vision impaired, are partially sighted or have low vision. The term ‘legally blind’ has different meanings in New Zealand (eg, within the Social Security Act 1964 and within the Blind Foundation’s criteria). Therefore, although some people may use this term to describe themselves, you should avoid using it as a generic term.

As a general principle, when you are undertaking engagement with people who are blind or vision impaired, let people know what is happening. For example, let people know where their chair is, and where you have placed their tea or coffee, or what food is available.

Where possible, keep pathways clear to allow people to easily navigate throughout the room.

Accessible materials

In creating accessible materials for people who are blind or vision impaired, follow these guidelines.

  • Consider providing written information in advance in large print format, as a Word document (so that it may be read aloud using screen reader software), in Braille or in audible format.
  • In electronic publications, provide descriptions below images, or, alternatively, use Microsoft’s feature for screen readers called Alt Text. Alt Text allows the writer to include a title and description of the image. The screen reader will read the title of the image and allow the person to choose whether or not to hear the description of its content. Alt Text is accessed by right clicking on the picture, selecting Format Picture, then selecting Alt Text. Other software programmes may offer similar features. See Using images, diagrams, graphs and tables accessibly.
  • Information provided in table formats is sometimes incompatible with screen reader software packages used by blind people or those with vision impairments. Again the Alt Text function can be used to give the table a title and description which can be read by the electronic screen reader.
  • Tables are also difficult when producing large print – think about ways you could present the same information without a table. See Using images, diagrams, graphs and tables accessibly.
  • Expense claim and feedback forms need to be accessible. If possible provide these to people in advance or accept feedback in alternative forms, such as electronically after the meeting.
  • Microsoft Office 2010 and Acrobat Pro (and some other programmes) have an ‘Accessibility Checker’ feature that will check a document for accessibility issues. Note that it cannot check for all potential issues (eg, it cannot check for colour contrast).

Presentations

In planning presentations for people who are blind or vision impaired, follow these guidelines.

  • At the beginning of a meeting, facilitate a round of introductions. If it is not possible to introduce everyone, ensure you note key people and presenters. One important purpose of this is to help people who are blind or those with low vision know who is in the room.
  • Read presentations in full, and describe images, diagrams, graphs and tables. Do not tell the whole room that this is for the benefit of people who are blind or have a vision impairment. See further Using images, diagrams, graphs and tables accessibly.

Excellence Technology Collaboration Inclusion

Lighthouse Guild provides exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Healthcare Services

Learn how our dedicated team of doctors, nurses, rehabilitation therapists, psychiatrists, and social workers can help meet your healthcare needs.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Support Services

With us, you’ll gain confidence, learn how to address challenges, and develop the necessary skills to live an independent life. The life you want is within your reach.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Training Services

We offer eLearning for professionals, educational resources for people affected by vision loss, and assistive technology training for blind and visually impaired people.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Technology at Lighthouse Guild

At Lighthouse Guild, we are dedicated to providing exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals. Connecting individuals to technology to make their world easier to negotiate has always been one of our essential services.

One of New York’s best assistive technology training programs for people with vision loss.

The Center, which will occupy 11,000 square feet at Lighthouse Guild’s New York City headquarters, will offer a one-stop resource for vision care, rehabilitation, and technology training.

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How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

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Help Lighthouse Guild provided service to those with vision impairment. You can donate, volunteer, or become a partner today.

Our Children’s Workers run activities for children, to help them learn new skills.

The sessions encourage children with a sight impairment to cook or bake independently. It’s also important to continue practising these skills whilst at home.

Here are some recipes you may wish to do with your child.

You should try to use equipment to make it safer for your child, such as non-slip mats, vegetable holders for cutting safely and talking scales.

Carol, Children’s Worker

Quick cookie recipe

Ingredients

  • 225g (8oz) butter, softened
  • 110g (4ozz) caster sugar
  • 275g (10oz) plain flour
  • Optional: add one teaspoon of spices (cinnamon, mixed spice, ginger, etc)
  • 75g white or milk chocolate chips

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 170C/375F or gas mark 6.
  • Cream the butter in a large bowl or in a food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Sift the flour into the mixture and add optional ingredients. Bring the mixture together in a figure of eight until it forms a dough.
  • Using your hands, make walnut sized balls and place them slightly apart from each other on a tray (you don’t need to grease or line the tray). Flatten the balls with the back of a fork and bake them in the oven for around 15 minutes until they are golden brown and slightly firm on top.
  • Place the cookies onto a cooling rack and leave them there for around 15 minutes.
  • Once cool, serve.

Cheddar and sweetcorn scones

This recipe was taken from the BBC Good Food website.

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweetcorn cobs (or 250g sweetcorn kernels from a can, drained weight)
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne or paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Few thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 50g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 175g cheddar, grated
  • 175ml semi-skimmed milk, plus extra for brushing
  • Juice ½ lemon

Method

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil.

Hold a corn cob at a right angle to the chopping board, then run a sharp knife down the length of the cob, as close to the core as you can get, slicing away the rows of corn. Boil the kernels for 4 mins or until just tender, then drain well.

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Mix the flour, baking powder, mustard, cayenne, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp thyme leaves in a large bowl, then rub in the butter until the mix looks like fine crumbs. Tip in most of the cheese and all of the corn. Mix the milk with the lemon juice, then stir into the bowl to make a slightly sticky dough. Don’t over-work the dough.

Tip the dough onto the floured work surface, knead 2-3 times to smooth a little, then divide into 10 balls. Shape each roughly with your hands and put onto a floured baking sheet. Brush each with a little milk, then scatter with a little cheese, cayenne and a few thyme leaves.

Bake for 10-12 mins or until the scones are risen, golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a rack.

Where do you need care?

We can provide care in your home anywhere in England & Wales

Day-to-day support for people with a sight impairment

We provide home-based support for blind people and those with severe sight impairments. With nearly 30 years’ experience in specialist home care, we support adults of all ages by providing them with the right level of assistance at home.

Blindness, or severe sight impairment, can affect people of any age. It’s a problem that can make daily life challenging, but it doesn’t mean you or your loved one have to move away from the family home. We believe that with a little extra help from professional and medical experts, as well as your family and friends, people can face any difficulty associated with a visual impairment with confidence.

With Helping Hands, you can choose from the full range of homecare services. Maybe you’re looking for live-in care to have round-the-clock support within your own home, or visiting care to help you at regular times each week.

Our expert carers will always treat a blind or visually impaired person normally, offering introductions and the same courtesies as any other care recipient would receive. They will be mindful of your condition at all times and will work to maintain your independence and lifestyle.

Whatever you choose, our care plans are completely built around your needs, giving you the right support from a fully trained carer who suits you and your lifestyle.

Call us today and speak to one of our care specialists about how we can support you or your loved one. We’re here seven days a week to take your call.

Read more about what live in care covers here.

Specialist support for blind people

Through our support for blind people, our friendly carers can help you or your loved one move around the home and carry out daily tasks. Specially chosen for their positivity and can-do attitude, our carers are also there to encourage and empower you to gain as much independence as is possible.

People are at the centre of our care for the blind. That’s why we tailor our support to fit with your existing lifestyle. Our carers are there to help rather than disrupt what their customers are used to. If you need to adapt your home to help you remain independent, we can support you with this too.

A Helping Hands carer or support worker can assist with:

  • Safely moving around the home
  • Administering medication
  • Personal care, such as bathing, getting dressed or if you need support with continence care
  • Preparing and cooking meals to your tastes
  • Household chores, such as washing clothes, doing the ironing and vacuuming
  • Caring for your pets, such as feeding and walking your dog
  • Running errands, such as collecting prescriptions or stocking up the kitchen with food
  • Providing companionship, including chats over a cup of tea or joining you on day-trips

Speak to one of our care advisors today to find out more about our care options for blind people. Call us today and we will walk you through how we can help.

How can Helping Hands help with my visual impairment?

Our carers have a wealth of experience in providing care for blind people, and they receive ongoing training about medical advances and how to care for specific conditions.

Whatever visual impairment or medical condition, we’ll match you with a carer who will easily adapt to your needs, supporting you with your condition as well as your personal interests.

Support if you’re partially sighted and need help adjusting

If you’re losing your sight or are affected by partial sight loss, you may find that you’re slowly adapting to a new way of life. We can help you to adapt. Our carers will not only help you through the practical changes but also provide emotional support.

We understand that any kind of visual impairment can have a big impact on the way you live your life, which is why we will support you in using low vision aids, such as magnifiers and text to speech tools.

For more information on our elderly care services, please click here.

Support with glaucoma symptoms

Glaucoma can significantly affect your eyesight and cause problems when it comes to daily tasks, especially when you’re out and about and in unfamiliar surroundings. Over time your peripheral vision may be affected and, to reduce the risk of any permanent damage being done to your eyesight, you may require surgery.

A Helping Hands carer can support you after you’ve had the surgery to ensure you have a swift recovery.

Support with complete and sudden sight loss

Although this will be a difficult time for you, we will always encourage your independence, should you choose to receive care from Helping Hands. And by choosing care in your own home, we can work together to come up with ways of adapting your home in a way that suits you.

While you adjust we can provide all the necessary support, whether it’s medical or personal. Your Helping Hands carer will not only help you on a practical level – they will be there if you ever need to talk.

Other people are interested in.

We’re here seven days a week to talk through your home care needs and find the best option for you. Call 03300376958 or request a callback and we will call you.

How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

A CQC regulated service

A fully regulated service across England & Wales
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How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Costs and funding

An introduction to home care costings
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How to cook when you're blind or visually impaired

Testimonials

What our customers say about our home care
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Page reviewed by Rebecca Bennett, Regional Clinical Lead on November 30, 2021