Organizing Your Kitchen for a Visually Impaired Individual

The time has come to open your home – and, thus, your kitchen – to an individual with a visual impairment. This individual could be your child, your spouse, your parent, your grandparent, or a friend. He or she could be accustomed to life with a visual impairment or entirely new to the experience. Whatever the situation, you will need to take safety precautions in several spaces throughout your home. The kitchen is, perhaps, the most important of these spaces.

If your child faces a visual impairment, he or she will still need to be comfortable in a kitchen. Having the right organization from birth will help the learning process.

If an older relative or friend has a visual impairment, organizing your kitchen is the best way to encourage him or her to feel more comfortable in your home. These familiar spaces quickly become necessary as the individual learns the layout of your house.

Believe it or not, those with visual impairments are perfectly capable of cooking a meal, setting a table, and using recipes – as long as they have a familiar space to work in.

Let’s talk about some of the things you can do to help organize your kitchen for a visually impaired individual.

  1. Find a place for everything and keep everything in its place.

We’ve already stressed the importance of familiarity. You should keep this in mind as you organize your kitchen space. Develop a system that will be easy to remember. For example, you should assign specific drawers and cupboards to utensils, plates, bowls, cups, silverware, and other important cooking tools. You’ll also need to establish a system in your fridge, pantry, and spice cupboard. Think through the process with your eyes closed. What would you need to continue cooking? Lighthouse International has some great tips to help you through this process.

  1. Provide a complete and thorough tour.

As soon as your child is old enough – or your visually impaired roommate comes home for the first time – provide a complete and thorough tour of the kitchen. The longer he or she is able to practice with the room, the more familiar the space will become. There are few things more important than allowing a visually impaired individual to become acquainted with your kitchen. This is where he or she will obtain drinks, snacks, and meals, even when cooking isn’t involved.

You should also familiarize yourself with kitchen safety tips, especially if your child faces an impairment. Perkins Learning offers a directory with more information about cooking with a visual impairment.

  1. Focus on textures, not colors, by labeling with large print or braille.

Depending on the severity of his or her visual impairment, your roommate may not be able to recognize contrasting colors. This also depends on the brightness of your kitchen space. To be on the safe side, focus on labeling items with large print or braille. You can find unique labelmakers online that will help keep your kitchen organized and functional.

  1. Provide appliances that simplify the process.

Items like bread machines, slow cookers, kitchen mixers, and salad spinners make cooking much easier for individuals with a visual impairment. It isn’t offensive to make the process easier for your roommate – in fact, it can be incredibly helpful and encouraging.

  1. Record a variety of recipes.

If your roommate isn’t already familiar with several recipes – or your child is just beginning to learn how to cook – it might be beneficial to take the time to record a variety of recipes on a CD or MP3 player. Make these recipes readily available in your kitchen space.

These are just five of the many things you can do to organize your Kitchen for someone with a visual impairment. Keep in mind the most important thing throughout the process – organization is key. VisionAware recently published a useful article on the subject.

Educate yourself further and start establishing a system that works for your home.

Author: Jackie Waters
Ms. Waters is a mother of four boys and lives on a farm in Oregon. She is passionate about providing a healthy and happy home for her family, and aims to provide advice for others on how to do the same with her site
She has been inspired to do some home improvements lately to make it easier for her visually-impaired sister-in-law to navigate their house since she recently came to live with them.