"Dining is something that we usually take for granted," writes Singapore-based industrial designer Jexter Lim. "However, for the visually impaired, simple tasks like eating and pouring can be extremely challenging.
"For the visually impaired, they cannot gauge the amount of food picked up with a spoon, and much uneaten food is usually left scattered around the plate. Furthermore, misalignment of the spout to the cup while pouring water and cutleries falling into a hot bowl of soup are the worst experiences to deal with without proper vision."
Lim worked with visually impaired people to observe how they ate, then drew up a list of pain points:
He set design criteria:
After prototyping different designs and testing them with the subjects, he eventually created an adaptive tableware set called Eatsy. And it's freaking brilliant.
Eatsy is a set of multi-functional tableware consisting of a plate, bowl, cup, and utensils. Each of them has a unique feature with subtle details that avoid stigmatization. They are universal, applicable for children, elderly and even people without special needs. Eatsy is user-friendly for both left and right-handed users, and they can be stacked up for easy storage.
Each piece has a distinctive spot to provide sensory cues for the visually impaired.
The Eatsy cup has a well-thought design which features a food-safe silicone flap which indents inward to secure the spout for pouring.
The Eatsy plate features a raised corner and slope to trap food. The curvature of the plate acts as a guide to direct the spoon to the corner for scooping. The corners also serve as a spot for drinking and pouring.
Cutleries can also be hooked onto the sides of the plate to prevent them from slipping.
You can see more of his prototyping and development process, as well as video with his test subjects, here. The videos in particular, where he shows comparisons of the subjects eating with ordinary tableware versus Eatsy tableware, are particularly illuminating.
I think this is kick-ass design with great usage of materials. My hat's off to Lim!