Enhancing Accessibility in the Kitchen: A Guide for Visually Impaired Cooks

How many times have you played the guessing game in your kitchen? Are you trying to figure out what is in that can or box on your pantry shelf? Sniffing a spice and hoping you select the right one for the recipe? Digging in the freezer to grab that frozen dinner, but can’t determine the cooking time because the instructions are in small print? People with visual impairments play this guessing game regularly. Many food items we use daily are not entirely accessible yet but can be with some modifications. Learning how to organize, store, mark, and label food items in the kitchen will help identify food items and increase self-confidence and independence when doing activities for visually impaired cooks.

Organize the kitchen

The first step is to get organized. Do an inventory of your kitchen. Look at how things are stored and placed. Gather similar food items and put them together. Canned goods can be organized and stored in one location in the pantry, and boxes of cereal or crackers can be stacked side by side on a shelf. In the refrigerator, keep condiments together in the door while separating fruits and veggies in the crisper. In the freezer, collect all bags of frozen veggies and put them on one side, while frozen dinners are on the other. Place spices and seasonings in a caddy for quick and easy reach.

Marking and labeling food items

Now that the kitchen is organized and you know where things are, it’s time to mark and label your food. There are numerous ways to accomplish this task, from simple and rudimentary to detailed and complex. You can use everyday household items like index cards, rubber bands, colored plastic tape, markers, and craft paint. Other items you might have to purchase are Dymo adhesive tape, a braille label gun, a puff paint pen, adaptive technology, like PenFriend, or smartphone apps.

Once you determine what to use during your activities, the next step is marking and labeling a specific food item. A can of corn can be differentiated from a can of peas by wrapping a rubber band around it. But if there are several cans of different kinds of food, take a marker and index card, write the food item on it, and use a rubber band to secure it around the cans. If you are a braille user, create braille labels instead, placing them on the index card. Store the marker, rubber bands, and index cards in a Ziploc bag for later use and keep labels as food items are eaten.

If you want to mark and label your food items with more details, such as ingredients or cooking directions, then using adaptive technology works best. Rubber bands, Dymo tape, and index cards don’t work as well in the freezer, but using a PenFriend will get the job done. This hand-held device is a voice-activated labeling system where you can record your voice to produce labels. There are apps for your smartphone like Be My Eyes and AIRA for quick and handy-sighted assistance. These apps access your camera and microphone, where a sighted assistant can help you identify items in your kitchen.

The guessing game regarding activities for visually impaired chefs is over. Your kitchen’s foods are organized, stored, marked, and labeled. You can approach your kitchen with self-confidence and independence. The only thing left to do now is start cooking and enjoy all you have accomplished.

If you would like to learn more about adaptive technology, Outlook Enrichment is here to help. Check out our adaptive tech programs. We look forward to helping you grow your independence. Contact us to learn more!

Impact Stories Icon

Giving Back, Impact Stories

2023 Vision Beyond Sight Gala

Read More
Rachel smiling with sunglasses on.
Impact Stories Icon

Impact Stories

How Rachael Found Confidence & Freedom

Read More
Doug smiling
Impact Stories Icon

Adaptive Technology, Impact Stories

Inspiring Aha Moments With Doug

Read More
See All Resources