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Design Knowledge Intermediary
Cooking for the Blind
(08/Sep/2017)

Cooking is a challenging ritual for the blind due to the lack of sensory references which are crucial to help them map out the environment. To overcome the steep learning curve, “Folks”, a series of familiar kitchen tools, leverages on natural, sensory feedback and tactile cues to pre-empt and inform the blind such that they can prepare food safely with convenience, confidence and dignity.

Even with sight, cooking can be daunting, much less without vision. For the blind, preparing food naturally becomes challenging as they learn to cope with the uncertainties of spills or injuries like knife cuts or burns.
 
Accidents occur when they have insufficient information of the environment due to the lack of cues. As it turns out, when rich, tactile feedback is provided to inform the blind of a particular result, they can better grasp the context and avoid making poor judgements. Hence, this became the seed for the Folks initiative.
 
How does Folks Work?
 
Introduced as a system, Folks taps into the adjusted sensory strengths (like touch or hearing) of the blind. The collection consists of 5 products.
 
1 Knife
 
Poor hand postures, irregularly-shaped ingredients and dull knives lead to cuts which dissuade the blind from cooking. To help them gain tool confidence, a retractable guard serves as a physical anchor and guides the fingers during the cutting process. This encourages blade contact, making it safer for the blind. 
 
It also allows them to clean off any food that is stuck on the blade with a simple trigger. After usage, the guard can be removed for cleaning with a simple nudge of the trigger.
 
2 Chopping Board
 
The side tray, which pegs freely on the sides of the chopping board’s valley, which is created to drain excess juices, acts as an extension of the hand to gather and efficiently transfer ingredients with less spillage.
 
3 Stove Ring
 
The ring’s terraced profile allows the user to effectively recognise the burner’s boundaries, eliminating unnecessary probing. It also centralises and secures cookware in place during the cooking process. Such prevents topples and hence spills.
 
4 Pot Lid
 
It is common for the blind to prepare an extra vessel, e.g. bowl, to house the cooking utensils. Leveraging on this behaviour, the lid provides a convenient nesting spot for kitchen tools or ingredients.
 
5 Teaspoon
 
The teaspoon’s integrated float rises as liquids are added into a given vessel, e.g. cup. When the float touches the user’s fingers, which are normally situated near the rim of the vessel, it informs the water level and prevents content from overflowing.

 


Video(s):

Website(s):
- www.behance.net