Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Using a Flat Cooktop Stove

Message: How do you lign up a pan on the burners of these new cooktop stoves if you are blind?

I use one of these cooktop stoves and I am totally blind. First of all, you can feel that there is a texture on the otherwise smooth cooktop where the burners are located. You can use this textured area as a guide to place the pan. Once the burner is heated, you canhold your hand several inches above the cooking surface to sense where the heat is eminating from to tell if the pan is situated over the burner correctly. In other words, if you feel excess heat coming from the area to the left side of the pan you know that the pan should be moved a bit to the left. When the amount of heat you feel is pretty much the same all around the pan, it is centered on the burner. You need to do this because sometimes after you have placed the pan on the right spot it can slide a bit while stirring the contents, etc.

I have heard that there is some kind of device that uses suction cups to delineate where the burners are located on a smooth cooktop, but I cannot remember where one can order it. If you know, please email me at and I'll update this record.

the Electrolux Infinite Cooking System

What if there was a stove that had one large burner? Imagine a stove that won't burn you when you brush up against it. That's something you'd see on Star Trek right? Nope, Electrolux is bringing this technology to us today.

The Electrolux Infinite Cooking System uses something we've all heard of in Science class, but don't exactly remember what it is: induction. Instead of the stove being hot, the pot is. By generating a magnetic field, heat is created only when an electromagnetic element comes into contact with steel cookware.

In short, the pot becomes the heating element while the cooktop remains cool. Induction cooking is precise. Temperature changes are instantaneous and, for the purposes of keeping foods warm, can remain constant indefinitely without over-cooking. As the cook surface remains cool, foods do not burn or stick, making cleanup easy. And, compared to either gas or electric cooktops, energy consumption is significantly less.

The heated surface is only as big as the pot on the surface, meaning it adjusts for different sized pots. Pretty cool.

Another innovation is the "power boost" technology, which heats up extremely fast, but only takes a modest amount of energy. The all-digital controls allow you to set it to auto-shut off, or you can choose from one of the 15 digital heat settings. This could be the only bad thing about the stove. Can blind people use the digital controls?

Along with all these features that make it the envy of pretty much every kitchen, it looks very slick. Completely flat, with shiny edges, and those pretty digital displays. What more could you possibly ask for in a stove? The only scarey thing left could be the price, which was not available at the time of this article.

Click this link to learn more about the Electrolux Infinite Cooking System.

If you are familiar with induction cooking you know it is the safest. Now Diva de Provence has made it even safer for the 10 million blind individuals in North America by offering a tactile marking kit for its line of induction cooktops. The kit includes a choice of either raised letters or Braille symbols, as well as 3M Bumpons that can be placed on the controls for easier reading and identification. Since Diva cooktops use electromagnetic energy to heat only the cookware, the cooking/burner surface remains cool* to the touch.

The cook top will only reach a maximum temperature of 482° F (as compared to halogen at 1,112º F). The heat from the pan will transfer to the surface and cause it to be hotter the longer you cook.

You may also find this video, from the Washington State School for the Blind helpful. If using a screen reader, press space or enter on the first button to play.

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