Tuesday, September 14, 2010

AT in the Kitchen

I must admit, I'm a bit of a foodie. You can often find me watching Food Network on Saturday mornings, curled up with some homemade egg bake. Technology for cooking has come a long way since the early days of putting a hunk of meat on a stick over a fire. This leaves me to ponder if the technology is accessible for people with disabilities. Is there any of today's modern technology that is helpful to those with physical or developmental disabilities? Is there AT for the kitchen?

If you take a look at the Assistive and Instructional Technology Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, you will notice a section on kitchen items. These include large type timers, color coded measuring utensils, and jar openers.

Some other things to consider are larger handles for easier grip. Check out these two vegetable peelers.

The one on the right is going to be much easier to grip and maneuver with the large handled soft grip.

I happen to really like the idea that Rachael Ray has with her spoons. They are called "Lazy Spoons". The spoons have a notch on the side, so you can keep the spoon with the pot you are cooking without it falling to the floor. For those with low vision, cookbooks with large print have now become easier to locate. Even popular cookbooks like the "South Beach Diet" cookbook are available in large print.

To keep a recipe stable while cooking, a "page up" or a recipe book holder can be used. This keeps your hands free for cooking, and your recipe in a secure place.

Pictured on the left is a one-handed cutting board, which stabilizes the food while chopping.

There are also tools such as battery operated sifters, talking egg timers, and talking thermometers available.

Being able to be independent in the kitchen is so important. In schools, students are taught basic cooking skills to help foster their independence and teach them safety in the kitchen. With accessible kitchens and accessible cooking tools available, our students, friends, and family members with special needs can have more independence in their daily lives.

Let's get cooking!