Everyone enjoys a good homemade meal, but before you can dig in, you have to prepare it first. Cooking can be a hard task, especially if you have vision or hearing loss. However, if you only make a few adjustments to your kitchen and get a few aids, you’ll be preparing delicious meals in no time.
Here’s what you can do to create a functional kitchen for people with vision and hearing loss.
If you want to make cooking and navigating your kitchen even easier, you might consider removing all sharp edges and opt for rounded tables and countertops. These will cause less painful bumps and fewer spills caused by bumping into something.
Also, pay attention to how you orient your pot and pan handles on the stove, since knocking them can cause severe burns. Additionally, make sure you don’t have any wires and cables over the floor because they can be serious trip hazards.
Smooth and shiny surfaces for countertops, flooring and appliances easily reflect light and create glare. Additionally, glass cabinet doors and clear glasses can also cause glare, but more importantly, they are completely invisible which makes them a hazard unless you mark them clearly.
Adjust the lighting
When you have vision loss, every space needs ample and appropriate lighting, especially a kitchen with all those knives and appliances. Increased illumination makes it easier for people with low vision to navigate their kitchen and prepare food.
On the other hand, poor lighting increases the risk of falls, bumps and even more serious accidents. So, your best bet is to invest in good lighting for your kitchen. Fluorescent strip lights with diffusers offer great distribution of light while spotlights direct ample light in all directions.
Also, bringing light closer to the task at hand is a great way to improve visibility. For instance, installing strip lighting under the kitchen cabinets will provide good lighting in the countertop area. You can also install some lighting in your cupboards and on the shelves for easier food identification. If you combine these lighting fixtures with some standard lamps and hanging pendants, you’ll get a well-illuminated space ready for meal prep.
Another way to make food preparation easier for people with vision loss is to create contrasts. Painting doors, cabinets and walls in contrasting colors with respect to the rest of the room will make them stand out more and make the space easier to navigate.
You can opt for neutral colors and go with dark colors against bright colors (black and white contrast, for instance) but combining darker and lighter shades of the same color can also work, it all depends on your vision level and your personal preference. You can also invest in appliances that have contrasting surfaces such as colorful Viking refrigerators that come in icy white, black, gray, red, blue and beige. Additionally, get contrasting cooking utensils, such as chopping boards, bowls and knives, which will also make it much easier to locate and handle them.
When choosing appliances, make sure they have some sort of contrast on controls to make setting the dials and pressing the buttons simpler. You can also use tactile markers, such as bump-ons or Velcro dots, and apply them to the controls.
Adapting the kitchen for hearing loss
People with limited or no hearing can also benefit from some easy kitchen adaptations. The main issue in the kitchen is the fire alarm. However, there are gadgets that will send visual signals instead of audio ones if there is a fire situation in the kitchen.
People who are deafblind can find vibrating pagers that will alert them of any kitchen happenings, from fire alarms to oven timers. All of these easy fixes will make cooking a much easier, safer and less stressful experience for people with hearing loss.
Don’t be afraid to venture into cooking waters. These kitchen safety tips will keep you safe, so all you need is some inspiration and a good appetite.