DEDICATED TO IMPROVING THE LIVES OF BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Every celebration must include food…

Anyone who’s worked with people who are blind, has likely had some great experiences observing both professional (the only employee never to cut themselves on a commercial slicer) and home cooks who are blind – and partaking of the results. The best coconut cake EVER is a standout memory. Teaching cooking skills remotely can be a real challenge, so a little research turned up some interesting tidbits.

Googling “Blind Kids Cooking” brought up pages and pages of information. This first one was the cheesiest, and the casual approach to cooking on an electric stove might give pause, but for a blind skateboarder, risk-taking is just an everyday activity. Two videos follow, one on cooking with Brett Devloo, aka “The Blind Kid”, who became blind at 17, and the other with Brett in his early 20’s showing young man who has definitely worked on his “brand”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNJs4lJQQcQ and https://vimeo.com/265098121

Cooking Without Looking is a new venture from the College Transition Academy through the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind, now meeting virtually via Zoom. For their final project, the students are testing meal delivery kits for a month. Their narratives go beyond critiques of the kits themselves to

  • how to use the apps successfully – “Dinnerly is all virtual- the recipe cards can be accessed via their website as well as through their app”;
  • what cooking tasks are easy or difficult – “I had a hard time making sure that the meatloaves were equal in size and making sure the meatloaves were done.”,
  • cooking tips and tricks – “I reached out with [my spatula] to find where the edge of the grill was and found a marker on the grill itself to help me keep track of where my patty would be.”
  • dealing with fears around cooking – “I learned I shouldn’t be afraid to get burned or hurt, because it’s probably going to happen sometime”.

Their reports were informative, but even better, they were entertaining. Watch for the publication of their cookbook, too. The school is closed for now, but access the complete Week 1 report at https://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/cooking-without-looking-week-one

In 2007 in South Florida, a PBS channel, WXEL, aired a different Cooking without Looking, a cooking show featuring cooks who are blind. In one episode, a recipe for Artichoke Mushroom Pizza was described so well that any cook could make it. Hint: touch was very important in the creation of this pizza, and the final product looked great. We’re just not sure whether a pizza topping made with mayonnaise would have wide appeal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyS1QQOMbfc

Three sisters are the seventh generation in their family to run Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, Illinois. They’ve put together some free resources to show appreciation for teachers – a virtual tour of the farm, kid cooking tutorials including veggie pizza made with their dairy made Quark cheese, and more activities. Must be a teacher to sign up. https://marcootjerseycreamery.com/teacher-resources-1

…and Entertainment

The Bearsville Theater, outside Woodstock, NY, is streaming archived performances in its Bearsville Uncut series at 8 p.m. on Saturdays via its YouTube channel or on Facebook. This Saturday’s performance is from ANSEL MEDITATION, “a fundamental figure in the foundation of reggae music and Roots Rock Reggae legend.” Register at http://bearsvilletheater.com/ and you’ll be notified when the show is on.

Whether it’s the Black Eyed Peas or country music or any other genre, you’ll likely find a link to music by blind musicians at https://blindamericanmusicians.blogspot.com/

Music lessons and preparing for a career in the arts

The Fil!, an RDPFS partner, has announced its roster of July classes, now available nationwide thanks to their new remote instruction capabilities. Both group and individual classes are available in subjects like The Magical World of Musical Theater, Learning Braille Music Code and Preparing a Monologue. There’s a special eight-session workshop on Career Building for Youth in the Arts. For more information on class dates and tuition go to https://fmdgmusicschool.org/classes/

More Fundraisers

On May 11, Helen Keller International held its annual gala virtually. Celebrity chef Jose Andres received the Spirit of Helen Keller Humanitarian Award and Carla Hall, of Top Chef and The Chew, cooked Vietnamese lettuce wraps. Video recording of the event and the recipe is at https://www.hki.org/2020-spirit-of-helen-keller-virtual-gala/

For the bookish

 Although physically closed like most other libraries for the blind due to COVID-19, the Andrew Heiskell library in New York City is offering occasional free online events. On Tuesday, June 9 at 4 p.m., the staff will host an Open Book Hour where book lovers can share news about any and all books they’ve been reading. Register at https://www.nypl.org/events/programs/2020/06/09/open-book-hour-what-have-you-been-reading#register

 The Xavier Society offers free reading materials in a spiritual vein. New audio acquisitions include Beautiful Hope: Finding Hope Every Day in a Broken World by Pope Francis et al. Among new Braille volumes is God’s Wild Flowers: Saints with Disabilities by Pia Matthews (B1770, 5 volumes). https://xaviersocietyfortheblind.org/

Audio Bibles for the Blind has several standard bible versions in a wide variety of audible formats, and in a wide range of languages, including Farsi, Mandarin, Haitian Creole. There are also select readings and a children’s bible. Many of their products are free. www.AudioBiblesForTheBlind.org