Working with visually impaired children

Every day after I wake up I open the curtains and check the weather. I always hope that the sun will shine as it will immediately put me into a good mood. What if I weren’t able to see the rising sun because of my eyesight being impaired?

I currently work with a group of children at the Wandsworth Oak Lodge School with a group of visually impaired children aged 5-15 years old. The age range is pretty big and I was worried it would be very difficult to work closely with such a varied age group.

The motto of the school is “to aspire, believe and achieve through excellence in education to lead happy, healthy and worthwhile lives”, this is definitely that I can fully relate to.

I feel so grateful that I was given the opportunity to work with the group of boys and girls all with various degrees of visual impairment. I was given some training by taken on a guided blindfolded walk. What an experience!! Eliminating one sense heightens the other. Not being able to see makes you almost entirely reliant on sound, touch, taste and smell. By eliminating visual cues you don’t know what to expect and this dramatically increases your awareness to all other senses.

Cooking is mostly visual, and if you don’t agree then try cooking blind.

I had to learn how to explain some cooking methods differently. Instead of relying on visual demonstrating I explain some methods by referring to the clock, such as mix clockwise or fold in the whipped cream from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock and back to 6 o’clock. All my students are so incredibly attentive and eager to learn. They retain information so much better than any contemporary of their own age as memory is crucial!

Have you ever thought what it means to make tea with boiling water and you are unable to see the cup or know the level you can fill up the cup. There are some clever gadgets such as this little nifty device that is clipped to the side of the cup and rattles when the required fluid level is reached. Additionally there are talking scales, jugs and microwaves. For grating cheese we use a small rotating device and to keep the food on the plate we use plate guards.

It’s a great honour being able to inspire and teach these incredible individuals and one of the most important  lessons I have learned is: Everyone has their own perception of life  and if sight is missing  feeling, sensing, touching, hearing and tasting  become more important.

The first dish that we cooked together was Apple crumble. It’s a wonderfully comforting dish and requires various techniques to prepare. I added some extra spices for an even bigger warming effect Try different varieties of apples to find your preferred apple combo.

 

Apple crumble

Ingredients.

1kg ( roughly 5 apples) I like tu use a mixture of Bramley and Cox’s apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

50g sultanas

50g light muscovado sugar

50g caster sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves

A little butter, for greasing

For the cinnamon crumble topping

170g self-raising flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

50g caster sugar

50g light muscovado sugar

130g chilled butter, cubed

Apple-Crumble-method

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. To make the topping, place the flour in a large bowl with the cinnamon and sugars, mix, then add the butter. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Mix the filling ingredients together in a large bowl, then spoon evenly into a lightly buttered, 1.4-litre ovenproof dish. Evenly spoon the crumble topping over the filling.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes, then serve with a jug of warm custard.
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