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Kitchen Appliances for the Blind

Michael Davidson

Blindness presents a number of challenges to an individual, but there are a number of ways to compensate for lack of sight. A blind person can do most things a sighted person can and be completely self-sufficient. Cooking can be a challenge, since sight is beneficial in locating ingredients and properly combining them, but there are a number of appliances for the blind designed to make the process easier.

Whirlpool Dishwashers

Blind people can benefit from appliances designed for use without sight.

Whirlpool's dishwashers all share several features that make them ideal for visually impaired users. Unlike the controls on competing brands, which have no tactile cues to the user, Whirlpool dishwashers utilize bubble controls that are easy to locate and use by feel. They are also neatly aligned across the top of the machine, so locating them by touch is not difficult. There is also a "Clear" button, which lets you revert the settings to a default state with the push of a single button. This allows visually impaired individuals to modify the washer for special needs and easily bring it back to regular settings without difficulty.

Black Back-Paneled GE Stoves

While stoves with touch-pads have become more commonplace, GE still manufactures stoves that feature textured buttons with a black back-panel. The buttons can be easily distinguished from each other and they make an audible beeping noise when pressed, allowing the visually impaired to keep track of oven settings audibly, as well as by touch. Both gas and electric models feature this control scheme, not limiting blind customers to a single stove option.

Hamilton Beach Talking Microwave Oven

The Hamilton Beach Talking Microwave Oven is available at major retailers and has a limited speaking vocabulary that allows it to announce settings as they are inputted into its console. This feature reduces the possibility of error for visually impaired users. In addition, the device uses a rotary knob for inputting time and other settings. While these settings are not spoken on input, the knob does produce audible clicks that blind customers can count to determine the number of cooking minutes as they turn the dial. There are also one-touch "quick cooking" buttons that activate preset microwave settings, which are announced when they are pushed.