People with visual impairments are at higher risk and experience more fear of receiving burns and scald while cooking around heating elements.




Vision Loss


21.1 MILLION AMERICAN ADULTS (18 and over) report experiencing vision loss... 

That number is expected to rise with the again of the Baby Boomers


Vision loss refers to: having trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, as well as blind or unable to see at all



What is Vision Loss 

    20/200 to 20/400: severe visual impairment or legally blind

    20/500 to 20/1,000: profound visual impairment or profound low vision

    More than 20/1,000: near-total blindness

    No light perception: total blindness



Diabetic Retinopathy

Macular Degeneration 




In the United States, there is an estimate of 450,000 CASES OF BURN INJURIES that receive medical treatment at hospital emergency department in 2012.



Leading causes of Burn Injuries

Leading Cause of Scalds

Leading Causes of Cooking Burn Injuries



Burn Taboos?

Many people with and without vision loss, felt they shouldn't talk about first and / or second degree burns they received while cooking since they didn't result in hospital trips or treatment.




- Approximately 8.3 million Americans with vision loss are poor or near poor

- Of 21.2 million Americal adults, 12.5 million women and 8.7 million men report experiencing significant vision loss

- On average, 2/3 of people 65 and older report some vision loss




- A healthy died consists of vegetables and whole grains

- With the population of visually impaired poor or near poor as well as elderly, pasta, beans and vegetables are ideal, low cost, quick & easy to cook and provide needed nutrients

- Being able to steam and cook vegetables is key for older people who may also have teeth problems



User Interviews & Observational Research


"I haven't received a {bad] burn while cooking, just those ones that go aways in about 2 weeks."


"Forgetting which pots and pans are heated [can] be difficult, especially keeping track of hot handles."

"Draining water is so difficult, I just fish out my food and let the water cool." 


"I don't cook very much because I am afraid of burns but I want to start cooking, it sounds fun and I think once I start, it won't be scary." 

"It is scary to be near heat when you can't see"



Personal Experience

Cooking with safety glasses smeared in vaseline, for a month, to simulate low vision. Goal was to gain empathy and better understanding of physics and emotional hurdles associatied with cooking with low vision.


Key Takeaways

- Lack of depth of field made searching for handles, utensils and food difficult and nerve racking

- Getting hit with little bits of oil was not only painful but scary, not knowing how far away from the pot you are or where the handle is was never racking because you didn't want to knock over the pan or make sudden movements

- It was  extremely difficult to know when the food was done, resulting over cooked, hard, crispy burnt food








Black shell & lid used on white stoves, white shell & lid used on black stoves for best contrast.

Various handle, lid & pot rim colors available.


Safe Cooking Cookware

A cooking pot for the visually impaired that promote self reliance and confidence.

This multi-functional cooking pot consists of 4 parts. There is a ceramic shell outside which limits surface heat and a metal pot insert with a silicon rim for safe touching. The vented lid helps contain boil overs. And the 2-in-1 steamer/ strainer allows users to cook a larger variety of food while reducing effort and utensils needed.  

High contrast colors identify parts and the base of the ceramic shell helps lock the pot onto a stove burner. The large, round, easy grip handle makes transport easier and help prevent injury.

Photos are taken by the photographer Warren Rader.

IHA 3rd place Student Design Competition Winner - 2014.