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Cooking is for EVERYONE!

July 13, 2022 by Emily Moore

Welcoming Accessibility + Inclusion in Our Kitchens

  • “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve
  • “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”   ―Helen Keller
  • “Disability is natural. We must stop believing that disabilities keep a person from doing something. Because that’s not true... Having a disability doesn’t stop me from doing anything.” ― Benjamin Snow, 8th Grade, in his essay “Attitudes About People with Disabilities”

This July marks the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This landmark civil rights law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. According to the CDC more than 60 million Americans have a disability that impacts major life activities. (That’s more than 20% of the US population!

Over the last few years, I’ve fallen out of the habit of inviting friends and family into our home to cook and eat with us. But lately, we’re starting to loosen up and do these things again, and it’s very important to me that everyone feel welcome and comfortable in our home. I got to wondering how I could make my own kitchen more inclusive and accessible for people with a broad range of physical and cognitive abilities. 

Here’s a taste of what I’ve learned about kitchen assessability:

Wheelchair use can create challenges with accessing above-counter cabinets and utilizing standard (36” high) countertops. Some possible solutions:

Neuromuscular differences can affect hand strength and dexterity, and sometimes cause difficulty with gripping and cutting. Lots of adaptive tools have been created to help with this, for example:

Impaired memory can make it difficult to sustain focus during multi-step tasks like cooking and baking. Consider:

  • Minimizing the risk of distraction by reducing trips to the fridge and pantry. Instead, gather ingredients, pots, pans, etc. before preparing the meal.
  • Hang measuring cups and spoons in a visible, easy-to-access spot. This makes them easy to find and easy to put away.
What little (or big) move would make your kitchen more welcoming and accessible?

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