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Cooking with a Deaf Person

Posted by on September 22, 2014

Let’s step off the court for a second here. The deaf are only hearing impaired in varying degrees. This doesn’t affect their ability to do most things around the house, including whipping up a nice meal. Life is easier when a household is set up for their needs including lights flashing when the phone rings or white boards for writing notes. Otherwise, their capabilities are like any others’.

Cooking does involve safety for the hearing and deaf alike. However, you can’t yell “watch out” when a pot is boiling over on the stove or a budding sous chef is chopping too fast. A knife can slip so easily and you will want to warn anyone in the kitchen ahead of time how to avoid scary accidents. Electric powered appliances such as electric knives and hand mixers can be more hazardous to deaf cooks as they cannot hear the appliance in operation. Extra care should be taken.

My associate was preparing food for the basketball team the other day at home. Because they are hard of hearing or deaf, they needed a pep talk. They were quite excited about the task not having made a meal before, especially together. The kitchen was set up with all the necessary appliances and tools lined up. A full discussion of usage preceded the first preparatory steps. When it came to the knives, my friend got a bit anxious. Deaf or not, these are weapons in disguise! They can maim with one false move.

So with careful sign language, everyone got the message loud and clear. They knew to be extra cautious around sharp implements. They also learned to watch and anticipate. You can’t hear the water boiling so you must look to see when it occurs. You can’t hear the timer on the oven, so you must check repeatedly to avoid burning. If you smell it, it’s too late.

Cooking with a group poses other problems. Everyone want to do his part and sometimes that of someone else! The team learns to share off the court. This is a great lesson in life. Food prep is often a solitary experience and certainly less fun than with helpers in tow. The action plan that day was to make salsa for chips, BBQ ribs in the oven, and homemade French fries. What a mess. There were bowls and blenders strewn about, dirty dishes on the counter, and stains on the floor. It almost came to a food fight at one point, but all in all it worked out well and the items were hot and ready to eat in due time.

Cleanup is not high on players’ lists. It was hard to tear them away from the fun to get back into the kitchen. They had assignments but tried to bribe each other to get them done. It thus took a few hours of extra hullabaloo to achieve a restored working space.

The deaf can cook and cleanup so I am told, although they certainly had a bit of a hard time with it. Their skills, however, have no doubt improved for a second round. They will vote on the menu and agree in advance to adhere to assigned tasks, whatever they may be. Knives will be delegated only to the most agile in the crew.