Victor Mendoza, Program Coordinator II, and Inae Mendoza, I&A Specialist, for the Ability Tools team, a program of California Foundation for Independent Living Centers
Cooking with loved ones is a tradition for many households, especially during the holidays. With the busy holiday season right around the corner, the Where It’s AT Team is here to help make enjoying the perfect holiday meal a breeze with some awesome AT!
Let’s start with kitchen AT for prep work:
- A Cutting Board with Pivot Knife is very helpful if you have a disability that interacts with your grip. It holds the cutting board in place and has an attached Chef’s knife to help with chopping.
- A Safe Slice Knife Guard allows you to safely chop fruits and vegetables by creating a barrier between the knife and your fingers.
- A battery operated Electric Can Opener opens any size can without having to use any force or strength.
- If you have a lot of chopping to do, a Food Processor might be the gadget your kitchen has been missing. A food processor can chop, slice, make purees, and dough, so you not only get support prepping, but also save time.
For cooking and baking there are several kitchen gadgets that can help you cook up the perfect meal. Here are a few items that can benefit your household:
- A Tovala Smart Oven controls food temperature, has a self-timer, and automatically shuts off once the food is ready, all by scanning a QR code. They offer meal kits that ship directly to your home. The perfect tool to support a variety of disabilities.
- Having smart devices in your kitchen can come in handy. An Amazon Echo Show can read recipes, convert measurements, set multiple timers, and much more. Learn more about the ways Amazon’s Alexa can help in the kitchen.
- Color coding your appliance functions is a great low-cost AT option. For example, you can put a green sticker on the start feature of your oven and a red sticker on the off button. This is a great low-cost option that can help you prepare a delicious meal.
- Whether you are baking something savory or something sweet, silicone baking dishes are a must have in your kitchen. Silicone baking dishes are extremely useful for managing energy, because they require less prep work and are very easy to clean.
- A smart probe thermometer allows you to cook without having to guess or constantly check to make sure it is fully cooked. They can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth, keep an eye on your food, and alert your phone once the food is ready.
- Bump dots are a great low-cost AT option. With bump dots you can mark different things in your kitchen such as appliances. They are especially helpful for older adults and those with vision-related disabilities.
The best part of cooking is when it is time to sit down and eat. Here are some AT options that can help you eat and enjoy your meal:
- Plateware and utensils with a guard can help prevent spills. A clear plate guard attaches to a large plate to prevent food falling off the plate. A covered spoon has a lid that covers 2/3 of the spoon so that most of the food stays on the utensil.
- Nonslip mats are perfect to help prevent spills. These mats can be placed practically anywhere, such as a table, tray, or walker. You can place a cup and/or a plate on top of the mat and enjoy mobility without spills.
- Soft grip handles make it easier to hold everyday items by creating a larger grip area. The ribbed handle is multifunctional because it can fit different types of eating utensils such as spoons, forks, etc.
- Easy grip utensils are curved shape for an easy grip while using. Having an easier grip will allow you to enjoy your meal.
- Weighted utensils are great for those who need a more solid grip to eat comfortably. The handle part of the utensil is weighted, which causes the utensil to balance in the hand on its own and allows the user to use the utensil with little to no force.
CFILC staff utilize AT in their kitchen to help them cook their favorite holiday dishes. Here are few items that are helpful in some of our staff’s kitchens:
- CFILC’s Program Coordinator Karla Leon uses a colored cutting board with pictures to keep things organized. “Sometimes the kitchen can feel very overwhelming especially during the holidays when you’re cooking multiple dishes. A colored cutting board helps me stay organized and keep certain foods apart from each other to avoid cross contamination”.
- CFILC’s Program Manager Kathrine Crowley has a Tovola Oven so that her sister with Down syndrome can “scan packages or pick a food in the app, put the food in the oven, press start and have a perfectly cooked meal with no need for plain language translation, and no over/under cooking incidents or forgetting to turn off a heating element”.
- Communications and Marketing Coordinator Jacob Monka uses a Mandoline Slicer in his kitchen. The “mandolin slicer has been the best way to slice vegetables to the thickness of it and volume”.
- CFILC’s Public Policy Manager Dan Okenfuss utilizes multiple AT in his kitchen. “All four of us in my family have dwarfism, so when we remodeled our house eight years ago, we lowered the counter heights to 29 inches. We also mounted the kitchen faucet on the side and found a counter-top stove with all the controls in the front. Lower cost AT include step stools and reach sticks”.
If you need assistance finding kitchen AT for your disability needs, reach out to your local Independent Living Center (ILC) or check out what devices are available to borrow at your local Device Lending and Demonstration Library.