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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

The Accessible Kitchen:  Healthy Eating and Vision Loss

June 1, 2017 | 1 Comment

by Polly Abbott, CVRT

Tags: ,

Client in Second Sense's cooking classes uses a knife to cut up a green pepper.

PART ONE:  You Can Learn All the Skills You Need to Cook Healthy Meals

Does this recipe sound familiar?

Take one person with vision loss and add two family members who don’t put items back where they belong.  Season with a dash of fear of knives and sprinkle with flour and assorted crumbs all over the kitchen.  Mix well for a few months.  Then place all thoughts of cooking in the oven and leave them there possibly forever.  Order in fast food and enjoy your meal immediately.

With vision loss — especially new vision loss, there can be many barriers to putting a healthy eating and cooking plan into action.

You might be experiencing…

  • A lack of access to old recipes because you can’t read your favorite cookbooks.
  • A lack of control in making decisions about what or how much you eat because you can’t read the nutritional information on the package or perhaps don’t do the shopping anymore.
  • A fear of cutting yourself with your knives or burning yourself while cooking.
  • The frustration of wasting food because you measure incorrectly or always seem to do something wrong that causes your dish to be inedible.
  • A fear of causing a kitchen fire or some other disaster.


Your family might also be influencing you…

  • Are you sensing irritation and dragging feet when you ask them to go find the items you need when you want to cook something? (All the while remembering your beautifully organized kitchen that they messed up that would have allowed you to get the items on your own!)
  • Are you hearing some gentle huffing when you ask to hear the salt content or the cooking instructions read to you?
  • Are not-so-subtle comments directed you way about taking too long, not doing it “the right way,” making a mess, or “Just let me do it for you—it’ll be less trouble.”?


If it feels like the hollandaise has separated, so to speak, and you’re never going to get it back together — don’t give up! There are still a few things you can do to whisk you, your family, and your kitchen back together:

Address your fears for your safety by seeking instruction from a vision rehabilitation therapist on the techniques you need to use to be safe and confident while using a knife and working with the stove.

There are also techniques for accurate measuring, cooking without making a mess, finding what you need without help, and knowing what to do when the recipe says “cook until golden brown.”

Second Sense offers individual training in cooking skills for adults with vision loss in the Chicagoland area.  If you live elsewhere, you can find similar services near you with  The home page for the American Foundation for the Blind has a service locator feature.  All you do is select your state and a complete list of services related to your area will appear.  The main agencies to contact are highlighted for you.

Additionally, you can learn to develop many of these new safe practices and habits on your own through Hadley’s independent living courses although these courses do not replace training with a rehabilitation professional.

New knowledge and new skills will give you confidence in your cooking abilities. Over time, your self-assured actions will increase your cooking efficiency.


If you are interested in learning more, we will be posting the second and third parts of this blog on June 15 and June 30:

PART TWO:  Identifying Items in the Pantry and Reading Package Information

PART THREE:  Healthy Eating Usually Means Cooking from Scratch

Polly is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at Second Sense.

1 comment on “The Accessible Kitchen:  Healthy Eating and Vision Loss”

  1. Hackie says:

    Thank you for these helpful and for me, timely tips!

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