Kitchen Confidence Program Relaunched in Santa Barbara with Exciting Updates

“I love going home at night and sharing with my wife what I’ve learned that day – she’s very interested in making our own kitchen and home better for me to use as my vision gets worse and worse,” says Tom D., a student at Braille Institute Santa Barbara, whose eye disease has taken away his central vision.

Recently, Braille Institute Santa Barbara celebrated the reintroduction of its Kitchen Confidence (#LowVisionKitchen) program with a special donor dedication. At the event, Braille Institute staff and students were joined by local donors, including a representative from the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation, which provided generous support for the program.

The gift from the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation, which is the second major gift from the foundation for the center, supported the renovation, upgrade, and expansion of the existing onsite kitchen. It also funded the integration of nutrition education into Santa Barbara’s updated Kitchen Confidence curriculum.

This program, now bolstered by its new kitchen classroom, combines assistive technology and health and wellness lesson plans to help adults who are blind or visually impaired regain confidence in their kitchen skills, and learn how to safely prepare healthy meals in their homes to enhance their individual living skills.

The kitchen’s unique use of technology and magnification design allows for customizable lesson plans and self-pacing for students. In addition to an 80-inch monitor, five mobile tablet workstations allow students to play, pause, or repeat audio instruction and enlarge text to modify the tutorial to best fit their needs. The kitchen also includes live-streaming capabilities, opening the door for offsite students to learn from a virtual classroom model. Recipes are created with a dietician’s guidance, so students benefit from curriculum for healthy, budget-conscious meal-planning and nutritious practices for conditions that can affect eye health. Instruction is offered in both English and in Spanish.

“Kitchen Confidence begins with a nutritious recipe, and we use tools we’d use at home [to cook a meal together]. There’s camaraderie between all the people working at the counter, both visually impaired and volunteers,” says Tom. Learn more about Kitchen Confidence and how you can schedule a tour.