Many of us could do with some tips to improve our cooking but the latest handy kitchen hacks have come from a surprising source: visually impaired people.
Guide Dogs has released a new video (non-accessible version) sharing different ways that visually impaired people undertake day-to-day kitchen tasks without having a full range of vision. From systems to navigating kitchen storage, chopping safely to boiling the perfect rice, it turns out sighted people could learn a thing or two from the visually impaired.
In the latest video, food lover and content creator Katie Pix speaks with Kristina Venning-Rose, a passionate cook and baker whose sight is affected by having Albinism. Katie and Kristina chat about food, taste, touch and smell and navigating the kitchen when living with sight loss – all while cooking a home-made pizza.
Kristina explains that she lays out her cans in the cupboard in order of what they are to make it easier to find what she needs. She also shares that some people with sight loss use elastic bands to tell them what’s in different jars. For example, you could use two bands around a jar to show it has pasta inside it, while one band means it contains rice.
To support the launch of the new videos, TV presenter and star of Celebrity MasterChef 2020 Amar Latif shared his own kitchen hacks. Amar lost his sight due to the genetic eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa.
One of Amar’s tips included the safest way to chop vegetables: whether or not you have sight loss, Latif recommends tucking your fingers safely back so you’ve got your knuckles hitting against the flat of the knife and keeping your knife at 90 degrees to your board.
“It feels a little bit weird when you first do it but take your time and get practicing with it,” says Amar. He also joked about the advantages of chopping while blind: “I can’t see my knife. I can’t see my fingers. So, I can’t see any problems!”
In the new video – which was created based on feedback from focus groups on which skills would be most useful - Kristina shares some tips for those without sight loss. For example, cleaning up as you go and having clear surfaces at all times is important when you have restricted vision but is a great tip for any cook. She also talks with Katie about how important touch and sounds are when cooking: you don’t need to be able to see to know whether your pizza dough has come together or you’ve whipped your cream enough.
There’s often a perception that people with sight loss can’t do lots of things, which just isn’t the case. In fact, visually impaired people can often teach sighted people a thing or two when it comes to completing day-to-day tasks in a more efficient and effective way! At Guide Dogs, we’re here to help people at every stage of their sight loss journey. So, whether you're learning to live with sight loss or building on the skills you already have, we can offer advice and support to help you live a full and independent life.
Peter Osborne, Director of Operations at Guide Dogs
Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT), Guide Dogs and LOOK UK have worked with vision impairment sector partners, lecturers and other professionals to produce a Covid-19 specific guidance for Higher Education Providers (HEP).