With Thanksgiving and the December holidays just around the corner, we at Spectrios Institute are thinking a lot about eating as a visually impaired person. Here are a few tips for Thanksgiving and beyond.
Lighting: You have likely already heard us say “light is sight,” and it’s no different with eating. Light is part of the reason that it can be difficult to eat at restaurants for people with vision loss. Restaurants notoriously have low light to create an atmosphere. Bring your own light—something portable and battery operated or rechargeable. At a holiday gathering, ask your hosts to keep the lights at full brightness.
Contrast: One of the simplest ways to make eating easier is to use contrast. Dark foods like steak, broccoli, and pasta with red sauce are best eaten on a white plate. We also recommend a dark placement under the plate to make the edge of the plate as visible as possible. Cereal in the morning? We recommend serving cereal in a black bowl for good contrast with the white milk. It is also recommended that you use plain, solid-colored plates. While the fine dinnerware might be saved for special occasions like Thanksgiving, a solid-colored plate is best for the visually impaired.
Get your fingertips involved: Using our sense of touch to assist can be an especially good idea for eating out at restaurants. Ordering foods that you’re expected to pick up with your hands like tacos, sandwiches, burgers, French fries, and chips is a good low vision strategy for eating out.
Clock-method: An age-old low vision eating strategy is the clock-method. Sighted companions can describe the layout of a visually impaired person’s plate using the positions of a clock. And a plate should be rotated so the main dish is at the 6 o’clock position. The 6 o’clock position is closest to the eater and offers the best control for cutting meat.
With a large group: When eating with a large group or family style, ask your seat companions to give the name of the dish as it is being passed to you. If possible, put the dish on the table touching your dinner plate for reducing spilling during serving. Run your fingers along the edge of serving bowls to locate the serving utensil.
Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Holidays! And Happy Eating!