4 tips for organizing your kitchen for a person with a visual impairment

The more organized your duplicate items are, the easier it is for a person with visual impairment to find what he is looking for. (Photo: Flickr.com)

Because there are so many ingredients, tools, and food items in our kitchens, it can be extremely difficult for a person with a visual impairment to quickly and easily locate and identify the items she seeks. There are several options for organizing your kitchen in more accessible ways, and we share four of the top tips for doing so for a person with a visual impairment here.

1. Store similar items together

While your specific method of organization should be based on what works best for your family and your loved one with a visual impairment, some people find that storing similar items together works well. You may want to reserve one cabinet for canned goods and store vegetables on one shelf, fruit on another, and soup on a third. Other families store baking ingredients on one shelf and ingredients for main meals on another. Still other families opt to put items they use frequently in a cabinet closest to the oven; for example, pastas and sauces are on a shelf next to the range.

2. Store duplicate items in a row

Many of us buy canned goods and packaged foods in multiples, and the abundance of items can make for an unorganized and cluttered pantry or cabinet. The more organized your duplicate items are, the easier it is for a person with visual impairment to find what he is looking for. One easy fix is to store multiple items in a row, with one behind the other, on the shelf. Not only will this declutter your storage areas, but it will help a person with visual impairment know exactly how many of each item he has.

3. Keep knife safety in mind

Of course, minimizing accidental cuts is important for a person with a visual impairment, so keeping knife safety in mind is a must. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, it is better to store sharp knives than dull knives because dull knives are more difficult to use and result in more cuts. Once the knives are sharp, decide whether to store them in a knife block or to protect them with knife covers or sheaths. If you opt for a knife block, color code the knives with their corresponding slots by painting the rim around each slot and placing a matching colored band on the knife handle. Or, purchase knives in different colors to correspond to their slots.

If you do store knives in a drawer, make sure the blades are covered with cardboard sleeves or another type of sheath before storing them. Also, make sure that knives are put away in the same place every time so they are easy to locate and to reduce the chances of someone getting cut. Another option is to purchase nylon knives for cutting certain foods such as lettuce, vegetables, and bread. These knives cut food rather than fingers.

4. Food Label Tips

Canned and boxed foods often come in packages of similar sizes and shapes, which makes it difficult to identify them. One way to organize your kitchen to make it easier for a person with a vision impairment to find the foods they want is to label items before storing them. When unpacking groceries, label cans and boxes as soon as you pull them out of the bag. You may write large letters on the tops of cans with a wide marker: “T” for tomatoes and “C” for corn. Or, you can use a system of tactile dots or rubber bands to aid in identifying foods in cans. One other option is to use Braille labels or a talking label system that records your voice.

With a little forethought and preparation, you can organize your kitchen to make it easier for a person with a visual impairment to store and locate items, cook, and enjoy a higher level of independence. Start by storing similar items together, storing duplicate items in rows, keeping knife safety in mind, and labeling items before storing them.

Text: UsHealthCorps - 12/2017