OT students help the vision impaired to navigate their fridge

An innovative new braille fridge ‘map' for the blind has been unveiled at Insight Education Centre in Berwick to help blind and vision impaired children become more confident in the kitchen.

Developed by two Master of Occupational Therapy Practice students, the fridge map can be affixed to a fridge door, and aims to help blind and vision impaired children become more confident with food preparation and cooking. The map was developed in response to the current low educational outcomes and poor employment prospects for blind people, and is aimed to encourage independence so blind people have the ability to know exactly where food is in the fridge.

"You would be amazed at the changes in the kids when they learn to do something for themselves," Judy Stampton, who was involved in the project said.

Kate Garam, also involved in the project, said she hoped the map would encourage children to cook or help others cook and hoped the idea could be adapted for blind and vision impaired people's homes to help them navigate their tool sheds, closets and other areas of the house. She said the idea took six months to develop and agreed it was surprising that such a thing was not already available.

"The kids say they really love it, they say it's really nice to be able to read it, and they love the fact that for the first part of the lesson they can read the recipe, work out what ingredients it needs and find them in the fridge," she said.
Insight Principal Timothy Hemphil said the food-finder map would help enhance a range of like skills for the students, as well as build core education abilities.

"Presently, 70 per cent of blind adults are unemployed. The former ‘integration' schools model has not provided the framework for life skills or future employment. We see Insight as providing a pathway to both of these, as well as meaningful independence and full participation in life."

What a fantastic innovation!