Creativity is Key!
Having a hard time in the kitchen? Where accessibility is
nonexistent, find new ways to tame your kitchen. It's possible
with the tips listed here, and your creativity.
Many of us have spent too much frustration
trying to prepare a simple meal, and some folks have given
up cooking altogether. But here is an opportunity to reclaim
Necessity is the mother of invention, so here are some tried-and-true
techniques that help. A kitchen is the heart of everyone's
home so preparing meals should be enjoyable (or at least possible).
- Ideally, a kitchen should have
a 5 x 5 foot turning radius for wheelchair access.
If space is limited, most of the prep work can be done at
a table just outside the kitchen. (This is also a good strategy
for people who are heat sensitive.)
- From a wheelchair, it's easiest
to function in a kitchen with lowered cabinets and knee
space beneath counters. A recess near the baseboard leaves
room for toes and kick plates. If you can afford it, lower
the cabinets. But a quick, inexpensive way to have
knee space is to remove cabinet doors below the sink
and some cupboards. Carefully pack up cabinet doors
and any hardware to store for future use.
- Under the sink, a plumber or handyman
can move the hot water pipe out of the way of legs
or insulate with foam rubber to prevent scalding. It may
also be necessary to insulate the garbage disposal.
- Hang a mirror above stove burners
to supervise cooking from a seated position.
- Raise the counters if you
have a difficult time bending over; lower cabinets
if you can't reach them and only use for long-term storage.
To make the most of cabinet space, use carousel trays; these
make 360-degree turns to store a lot in one place and you
will thank yourself for buying them! Check a hardware store
or stores that sell RubberMaid items (only about $2.00
- Linoleum or tile flooring
is preferred over indoor-outdoor carpeting because that's
easier to roll over and much easier to clean.
- If purchasing a new refrigerator,
sink, or stove, keep in mind that there are new adapted
models, such as sloping sinks, refrigerators with the
freezer on the bottom, and cook stoves with knee-space below
and front controls instead of side controls.
- If using an oven or stove is too
difficult, a toaster oven or microwave oven
is much simpler. (See Small
- A rolling utility cart allows
you to move a heavy pot of water across the room or bring
plates, glasses, and bowls to the table.
- Use the work triangle strategy:
that means logistically arrange ingredients and tools to
efficiently direct your flow of activity in a triangular
path. Some cooks find it easiest to pull out all ingredients,
bowls and utensils at the beginning. Determine your work
surface (table, counter, TV folding table) as your first
point of the triangle; do your measuring of ingredients,
chopping, and other preparation here. Work at the sink
is the next point of the triangle for washing produce or
meat. Place a small TV-table near the sink if you need it.
Cooking at the stove or oven is the third leg of
the triangle. The main idea is to logistically arrange supplies
efficiently within the three legs of your triangle.
- Tools, seasonings, and pots can
be set up to surround your work area. Think of new places
to store things so they don't have to go into a cabinetleave
them out altogethernever put anything away! For
instance dry goods can go into decorative canisters, vegetables
into hanging wire baskets, spices into a spice rack, pots
onto a pegboard, and so on. Give yourself a break!
- Contrasting colors aid the
person with a visual disability, such as a brightly colored
cutting board. A large print timer and use of a magnifier
aid vision. Special tools like liquid measure sensors are
also available from Lighthouse International (See
Shopping for Aids to Daily Living).
- Single-handed cutting boards
with spikes or edges hold food in place for persons who
are only able to use one hand. Catalogs that carry aids
to daily living sell a wide variety of adaptive cookware.
Ergonomic or non-slip utensils are available at larger cooking
supply stores too. (See Shopping
for Aids to Daily Living).