Innovation for Independence

We Can Cook

sample pages from the app
Publish date:
06/01/2015 - 12:21pm
Last updated:
14/01/2015 - 1:23pm
Hoi Fei Kwok

More and more adults with learning difficulties now live independently with various degrees of supervision. They need to cook for themselves. To be able to eat healthily is important for them. However, they often need significant help in cooking. Cooking is a complex task that involves many steps and variations. They may have problems sequencing (trying to remember the steps in sequence), memorizing the ingredients needed, adjusting the quantity of the ingredients for different number of people. Cookbooks and cooking apps available are often not suited for their needs as they often present too many information on one page and people with learning disabilities also found it difficult to remember which steps they have already completed. To date, there is no available mobile application that will provide a number of built-in nutritious recipes, a step-by-step guide, timer for cooking time, audio instruction and options to allow users adjust the amount of ingredients to the number of diners. These are the features that we will be providing. Users can also import and export recipes so they can share with their friends. The app will also provide users with a shopping list and allow them to put the name of the dishes that need cooking for a particular meal in the calendar of the mobile device.

Insight & Impact

I have a son with Down’s Syndrome and therefore have met a lot of children and adults with Down’s syndrome and learning disabilities. A lot of them now live independently under varying degree of supervision. For non-disabled young people, living independently, although not entirely straightforward, is something to looking forward to and is not difficult. However, imagine if you have difficulties remembering sequence of events, organising tasks, adapting to unexpected events and you have been having support from parents or carers all your life, to be independent is not easy. You need to cater for yourself and if you cannot cook, it may mean relying on ready meals or takeaways, relying on carers to come in to cook, or simply live on baked beans on toast. Through working on an EU project (CogWatch) which uses technology to help patients with apraxia to do simple tasks such as making tea and toothbrushing, I gained understanding of the requirements for the user interface in developing technology for people with cognitive difficulties. Therefore, I decided to develop this app to help people with learning difficulties to make nutritious meals to improve their quality of life.

Skills needed for this project

  • I can program android app and have experience with C# but will need someone to program in iOS so it can be used with iPads and iPhones.

Please add a comment here....


Tracey Hope's picture
This sounds fantastic. My son is 22 years old has Down syndrome & has tasted some independent living. This app would be fantastic as using pictures & minimal written word helps him to digest information much better.
Beverley finch's picture
My son is 20 and has down syndrome. He reads through symbols and pictures and he would love to follow these recipes. He loves cooking and would be very proud of himself if he could produce full meals on his own.
Hoi Fei Kwok's picture
Pictures with written and audio instructions will be in the initial prototype. However, in the future, I want to be able to have Makaton symbols as well.
Alan Wing's picture
I think this could also be very useful for age related impairments in sequencing eg dementia. It might make the difference in keeping independent longer.
Antonia's picture
Even as someone with little/no learning difficulty, I've been wanting this app because I thinking heavily in visuals and when I'm unable to convert a measurement into a visual, I'm stumped. Makes all the sense. I'm a User experience designer and happy to help. Thanks.
Antonia's picture
You can learn more about UX on my blog