When I started at college, I decided to investigate assistive technology products for the dining hall. My college meal plan gives me unlimited access to the dining hall. As a result, I’m always in there grabbing small snacks, full meals, or even just refilling my water bottle. While I do have friends help me navigate when possible, for the most part I am on my own when it comes to navigating the maze that is an all-you-can-eat dining hall. Here are five assistive technology products for the dining hall.
The Incredible Spill-Not
One time, I was walking in the dining hall, tripped, and spilled water all over half of my body. I was so embarrassed, I just pretended it didn’t happen and walked back to my table soaking wet. My new friend looked at me in horror and I just wanted to curl up in a ball. That experience is what inspired me to research assistive technology products for the dining hall.
I discovered the Spill-Not, a small plastic device that the cup sits on and the user carries with a handle. The thing is, no matter what direction you swing it in, the liquid will stay in place. I’ve never spilled anything while carrying it, even if I tripped. It can be found for around $10 on Amazon. As great as it is, I do not recommend it for carrying soup due to the heaviness of bowls.
Liquid Level Indicator
By putting this on the side of a cup or bowl, I can be alerted by a loud beep when the liquid is about an inch and a half from the top of the cup/bowl. It’s worth noting that out of all of the assistive technology products for the dining hall, this is the one that sounds most like a fire alarm. Mine cost about $3 from MaxiAids, but can also be purchased on Amazon.
These are a knife fork combo that can be used to cut foods like grilled chicken, cooked vegetables, and fruit. It does not hurt to eat with them, since it isn’t like you are sticking a blade in your mouth. They can be found for about $10 for a set of four on Amazon.
Dining Hall Apps
My college uses an app called Bite by Sodexo to display menus for food in advance. It’s easily enlarged on an iOS or Android device, and can be extremely helpful in figuring out which foods are which. It also tells me where the foods are located so I can ask for them. It’s worth noting that this app isn’t always accurate, but it tends to give me an idea of where things are located.
When I was younger, I was such a messy eater that our dog would sit at my feet while we ate dinner because she knew food would fall. Since I don’t have a dog with me in college, and spill food on the tables more often, I got these spill guards that are like a small funnel top to put around a plate or bowl. It helps to prevent food from spilling out in all directions.
Everyone should be able to eat food in the dining hall without worrying about embarrassing moments. I hope that this post helps you discover assistive technology products for the dining hall that can help you eat and navigate independently.