Making a new stove accessible

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

I like to cook, the old gas stove was over 20 years old, and doing poorly. Beth, my wife, and I had decided some time ago that when it “died” we weren’t going to spend a dime to repair it. But replace with what?

I hate to shop, but Beth takes up that slack. She also knew that my cooking my share of the meals was important to her, and that accessibility was essential to me. Buying an electric stove just wouldn’t do for this cook.

After shopping at several locations to meet our specifications, Beth picked a simple gas stove from Nebraska Furniture Mart–a General Electric model. Once she chose, my shopping experience began.

Just how accessible was this stove anyway? No one at the store seemed to know, and the factory representatives weren’t much more helpful. With our experience, we began to figure it out, and decided that simplicity was the key; we knew how it could be modified to meet my needs.

The burners are the easy part. Just turn the knob to the left, listen for the clicking, hear the flame light. No problem. Just keep turning the knob counterclockwise, and the heat level decreases. Easy, efficient, doable. Let the cooking begin!!!

The oven is a touch pad unit, which is anathema to me. We got out the dots, marked, and experimented. It wasn’t long and we had it conquered to my satisfaction. A dot was placed on the “start” spot, and the “stop” spot. To the right of “start” was the spot to set the temperature. It defaults to 350 degrees, so for the most part, getting those 3 items aligned wasn’t a problem.

The bigger challenge comes with setting oven temperatures. There are two spots–one which increments an increase of 5 degrees, and the other that denotes a decrease of 5 degrees. When I face the stove, I am facing north. So the west spot will increase temperature. I use a mnemonic to remember this, as well s the dot placement. On the day we set this up, it was warmer in Omaha than in Chicago–thus, the dots came out, and these settings even had a name. The problem is, once you push each spot, there is no auditory indication that you have increased or decreased the temperature. When Beth has checked this for me visually, I am almost always on the mark. Once you set your temperature, you push the spot to the right of start, and it does beep. When the oven is pre-heated to its proper temperature, it has a series of beeps.

I have played with the timer, but have not mastered it. I have several traditional timers in the house that are blind-person friendly, and I rely on those; the motivation to learn this function is not there. It appears a bit more difficult than the temperature features, but if you need to learn this, it can be done as a blind person with the proper training and modification.

The cooking continues, and I am very pleased with my gas stove and oven. For my purposes, the adaptations that Beth and I made continue to serve me well.

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