The principles outlined in Lighting and Glare apply to every part of your living space. The kitchen, however, is one room that obviously requires special attention. Here you’ll find organizational tips and suggestions for a few simple steps you can take to make kitchen chores easier and safer. For tips on food preparation and cooking, see Cooking & Meals.
Organizing and Labeling Canned Foods
Opening a can of fruit cocktail when you meant to have chicken soup is a nuisance the first time it happens. But as anyone with low vision will tell you, such mix-ups quickly become immensely frustrating, not to mention wasteful. Here are a few suggestions to help minimize confusion:
- Prepare labels in advance based on your shopping list. A self-adhesive label, marked with large print, tactile dots, or whatever works best for you, is easy to apply.
- Use varying numbers of rubber bands to distinguish one type of product from another—two bands for mixed fruits, three for green vegetables, four for sauces, etc.
- Label cans the same day they arrive from the store, before you put them away. Ask a family member or neighbor to help you identify the contents of each can.
Three different systems for labeling your canned foods: rubberbands, large-print labels, and a magnet shaped like the food inside the can.
We Got Labels!
Some popular labeling methods:
- Try to make sure every item is always put away after use in the same designated place.
- Get rid of clutter and dispose of seldom-used and expired items.
- Organize utensils in drawers with a method that makes sense to you (for example, forks on the left, spoons to the immediate right …).
- Make sure knives are put in a separate location from other utensils.
- Put most frequently used pots and pans in a specific location such as on a pegboard within easy reach, or in a cupboard near the stove.
- Develop a system to organize foods on cupboard shelves and in the refrigerator so that every type of food has its designated place.
Work Your Appliances
It is often very difficult to see the dials on a stove and other appliances. There are products that can help. Bump (tactile) dots or 3D pens (also known as Hi-Mark pens) are durable and effective markers. You can mark stovetops or the oven dial at the point you use most. When using ovens, for example, 350 degrees is a common setting for baking. Place a mark above the dial then turn the knob until the mark on the dial matches the one on the stove. Also, if you’re in the market for a new oven, look for a brand that automatically sets the oven to 350 degrees when turned on.
Tactile dots can be placed on your stovetop controls to indicate settings.
Mark all other appliances and appliance features you plan to use (refrigerator temperature and water and ice dispensers, dishwasher, microwave, etc.) Some microwaves come with a braille overlay or large-print labels that can be ordered from the manufacturer.
Use tactile, colored markings to identify water and ice controls on a refrigerator.
When purchasing small appliances, look for items that have tactile settings or large-print displays.
Note: Flat-panel appliances are becoming more and more common and are harder to mark. For information on this topic, read the AccessWorld® article, Access in the Kitchen: An Update on Home Appliances.
Using Contrast in the Kitchen
Using visual contrast such as a color contrasting cutting board and contrasting cabinetry and hardware can help people with vision loss work in their kitchen more safely and effectively. Using a good contrast/bad contrast approach you can check out for yourself how using different options for contrast can help a person with vision loss function more easily in the kitchen. These changes do not have to be expensive; all it takes is a little imagination and trial and error to find out what works for you.