Monthly Archives: June 2013

Now I’m Cookin’!


Submitted By: Laura Hall

Several weeks ago, Michigan Disability Right’s Coalition held a Tupperware party as a fun event and a fundraiser for programming. This party defied my expectations as our host created an entire meal for our staff using only Tupperware products and a microwave. I had no idea that Tupperware (whose products are now all BPA-free) had products that could truly be considered assistive technology, included ergonomic choppers, a can opener, and microwave safe containers.

As a wheelchair user, cooking has always been difficult. I envision myself creating the meals I see Tupperwave Stack Cooker on the Food Network, but in reality, lack of accessible counter space, a stove that is too high, and difficulty using food preparation tools leave me more often relying on frozen and packaged meals. I regret not being able to contribute home-cooked dishes to holiday potlucks and family events. Therefore, when I saw that Tupperware’s TupperWave Stack Cooker allowed you to brown meat, cook vegetables, and boil noodles all from the same container…in the microwave, I was sold. I can proudly say that I used this handy cookware, the accompanying cookbook, and the microwave to create a Food Network worthy dish of Asiago Penne and Scallops all on my own!

Working for the Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP) and helping to facilitate device demonstrations with our “Small Changes, Big Differences” kit has helped me gain a better understanding of what is out there in terms of assistive/adaptive cooking devices, and how I can use everyday items in the kitchen for cooking. For example, did you know that an ordinary large pizza cutter can also double as a device to aid in cutting meat and vegetables? Or that driving a few stainless steel nails into a cutting board can help steady fruits and vegetables for slicing?

wooden cutting board with spikes, cutting guide and suction cups

Handy Helper

We cannot underestimate the joy that time in the kitchen, preparing a home-cooked meal can bring. Assistive technology is available so that disability doesn’t need to be a barrier to preparing meals for ourselves and those we love. As Independence Day approaches, we recommend checking out our webinar on holiday cooking for ideas on tools that aid in preparing your holiday feast.  Join the discussion and share with others: what is your favorite kitchen tip or gadget?


Let Your AT Pride Shine!


As technology evolves, devices are becoming smaller, faster, and more discrete. What was once considered assistive technology for people with disabilities is now integrated into some of the most popular devices. iPhones, iPads, tablets, and e-book readers all have applications designed to help the user more easily navigate the device and find the information they need. This is certainly positive in that it increases access to and acceptance of assistive technology (AT).

It is increasingly common among those who help people obtain AT to focus devices that are inconspicuous, subtle and can blend in with what other people are using.  This is a well intentioned response to people’s desire to not “look different”.  Certainly, it is important to balance the person’s needs with their wants.  Yet, in the search for the inconspicuous it is important to consider if we are sending negative messages about visible assistive technology. Some people don’t have the option to hide their devices or have technology integrated into a multi-purpose device like an iPad.  Others may simply need or be more effective when using a device that is dedicated to the function it provides. (i.e. a Dynavox for communication). Are we reinforcing people’s shame about having a disability and needing to use AT?

Disability pride can be a difficult concept for people to understand.  Why would a person be proud to have a disability? Because it’s important to feel good about who we are.  It is difficult for anyone to love and take pride in themselves without loving and accepting all of their identities. Achieving disability pride can be difficult, yet is a healthy process that involves wholly accepting one’s disability as a natural part of oneself.  Instead of spending so much time on the effort to conceal AT, shouldn’t we be making more of an effort to help people become proud of themselves and the technology they use? We send conflicting messages if we encourage healthy disability pride yet try to hide the technology that is a critical component of a person’s disability identity.  For more information about Assistive Technology Pride, check out our webinar  “AT and the Disability Identity”€.prosthetic leg with skyline and "Chicago" painted above the knee

Ultimately the question seems to be: how do we remain responsive to people’s situations and wishes while promoting healthy disability pride?