This time of year, everyone is looking for recipes. Cookies, fruitcakes, pies, and that special side dish to make your holiday meal that much more special.
There are lots of great ways to find recipes. Searching Google is always an option, but there is not a way to save favorites in a specific place, unless you bookmark every recipe. I used to like the Allrecipes app, but recent updates have rendered some key parts inaccessible with VoiceOver (which is completely annoying since I have all my favorites stored in that app and when I choose to use VoiceOver it is that much harder to get to them).
So I recently started using Big Oven with my students. Big Oven was always an option, but I typically chose Allrecipes for a variety of reasons that are no longer applicable.
Orientation to the Home Screen of the App
Big Oven does not let you proceed without an account. This process is very accessible with VoiceOver and is simple. You may either sign up with email or connect your Facebook account.
After you have completed this basic process, when opening the app and placed on the home screen, you are presented with several options. The first is an unlabeled button that, when activated, opens your account information area and allows you to to some basic editing of your account and preferences (see the heading entitled “Viewing and Updating Your Profile” for further information). The next link is the “search” button, the function of which is obvious. When swiping right, you will then come across a list of links including saved recipes, grocery lists, and meal plans. The final link in this list is the “activity” link, which is where notifications appear.
Once you have passed that are of the screen, your focus moves to featured recipes. VoiceOver presents you with the option to share, toggle it as a favorite, or toggle it as “try”. After getting past these options, you can view the name of the recipe to which the buttons that appeared earlier were referring to. It’s a bit backwards, but as long as you know to expect it, it’s easy to figure out.
Clicking on a Recipe
Once you choose a recipe, either by searching a title or just selecting one of the options presented when you open the app, you are taken to that recipes's “page”. At the top will be buttons that allow you to add it to your “try” list, to your “favorite” list, or add the necessary ingredients listed to your shopping list. After those three buttons is a “more” option where you can share the recipe, add to meal plan, or other options that may or may not require a pro subscription. Further down on the page is the title of the recipe, contributor name, prep and cooking time, and number of servings.
As you move further down the page, you will find the ingredients list, preparation instructions, nutrition facts, and an area you can add notes.
The Search Area
I think the search area is one of the best features of this app. Not only can you search for a particular word or phrase, but you can narrow your search by recipes in your account or by the name of a particular contributing cook.
If you wish, rather than entering a specific term to search for, you may even browse collections, check out recently viewed recipes, or revisit your search history.
Viewing and Updating Your Profile
As mentioned previously, the first button on the home screen of the app opens an area that allows you to view or update your profile. There are several areas that can be changed and updated including your first and last name, a website address, a place to add a short bio, and adjust your eating habits (vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, etc) as well as other options.
Notes for Low Vision Users
What I really like about this app is that, generally, the design is uncluttered and streamlined. Everything is located in the same place consistently, which is obviously a great help if you are depending on your vision and prior knowledge to navigate the app.
On the down side though, there are some spots where text is superimposed over pictures. Yes, this is very visually appealing for sighted folks, but those with visual impairments might have some difficulty. The good news is that this issue is mainly confined to the “home screen” area of the app or within the recipe you have already selected. This is not the case when working in search results.
Notes for VoiceOver Users
Overall, this app works exceptionally well with VoiceOver. As mentioned above, there are places where buttons are not labeled and elements in the app are not in the order one would expect, but once one is accustomed to the layout, it is very easy to navigate.
Everyone loves a free app...and free and accessible apps are treasures to individuals with visual impairments and those who work with them. Whether deliberately or by happy accident, Big Oven is one of those apps that is easy to use for both low vision and totally blind individuals.