By: Martin Courcelles, Specialist, Web Accessibility and Adaptive Technology
Living on canned tuna and crackers does get old. Don't worry, I'm exaggerating as per usual. I do get a balanced diet, but sometimes, I'd like to flex my culinary muscles. It used to be, I'd have to wait for my braille recipe books to arrive in the mail and for the mailman to leave it on my doorstep, (mumbling something about these darn books being so heavy). I would quickly peruse them and painstakingly copy the recipes that I liked. You don't have to do that anymore. With a bit of finesse and online tomfoolery, an aspiring chef can find any recipe she/he wishes to attempt; and perhaps, launch on unsuspecting victims, I mean dinner guests.
The first way is to simply go to Google and do a quick search there. Just make sure that you end your Google query with the word recipe. For example, "Butternut squash soup recipe."
Once the search results come back, you can easily navigate through them with your screen reader headings key, (which is usually the letter h).
Enter on any of these links and you'll find an adequate recipe for your soup.
Please note, Google has recently changed its searching capabilities. It does searching while you type. This can be confusing for screen readers. You can either click on the top link on the page which brings you to a friendlier screen reader page. Or, you can use this link and save it in your favourites list. Alternatively, you can do as I did and put this link as your start page.
Here's the link: https://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0&hl=en
You will get a list of results from various recipe web pages.
Some pages allow you to change options, such as number of servings and will adjust the ingredients accordingly.
Recipes on the iDevices:
The reason that I'm actually writing this blog is because one of my friends asked me if there were accessible recipe apps for the iDevices. I'm happy to report that there is. Here are 2 that I have tried and gotten satisfactory results.
First out of the apps kitchen is a companion app for the AllRecipes.com website aptly called AllRecipes. It's fully accessible out of the box. All elements speak just fine with VoiceOver.
There are 5 tabs at the bottom of the screen:
The spinner tab is to choose a recipe by random. You can also add an ingredient in order to spin recipes that will contain it.
The favorites tab contains recipes which you deemed good enough to keep for later use.
The search tab lets you conduct a full search on the AllRecipes.com page. Its layout is similar to the AppStore search.
The Featured tab gives you a list of featured recipes on the site; in case you have absolutely no idea what to cook/bake next.
Finally, the List tab is where you can create your shopping list. You need an AllRecipes account and/or social media account in order to login and save your lists.
On some of the tabs, you have a button labeled Settings.Navigation. Double tap on this button in order to set up your account within this app. Please note, you don't need to do this in order to use this app, however some of the functions such as the shopping list feature will be unavailable to you.
SoupMaster: No soup for you!
This particular app focuses on soups and it will adequately feed your soup monster tendencies. You can either browse by soup category, or do searches for particular soup styles and flavours. From what I can surmise, only the recipe tab is fully accessible with VoiceOver. The ToDo tab and favourites tab seem to be missing adequate button labeling in order to add data to these screens. Nevertheless, you can still find that soup you dearly want and start your culinary cooking adventure.
When utilizing your iDevice as a recipe book, I would strongly suggest putting it into a sealable plastic bag. You'll still be able to control the device and no liquids or food particles will get at it. You'll thank me later for it when you decide to spill that hot gravy all over its front. Author's note: crying doesn't fix an iDevice.
Well that's it for now. Hopefully, this will give you a few ideas on how to easily access recipes. Oh, and I'm partial to chocolate chip cookies.
Happy recipe finding!
By: Martin Courcelles