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Corkscrew/Wine Bottle Opener Features and AT for people with upper body/hand or cognitive impairments

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Corkscrews are a necessary tool for opening wine bottles because corks themselves, being small and smooth, are difficult to grip and remove- especially when the wine bottle is new, and the cork is inserted fully into the bottle. [1]

Upper Body Impairments

For persons with upper body impairments, a cork screw may be difficult to operate because it requires the user to apply a repetitive twisting motion together with a downward force for the metal spiral to be inserted into the cork. Users are also likely to experience difficulty pulling the cork out of the bottle since a lot of force is required to overcome the friction between the cork and glass. Some more complicated corkscrews, like wing corkscrews, require the user to manipulate a number of small handles. This may not always be easy for people with fine motor issues. Users also require full dexterity in both hands to cut the foil and grip the handle that pulls the cork out.

Best Device for Upper Body Impairments

The best corkscrews for people with upper body mobility issues would be ones that require low physical effort and permit flexibility in use.

Electrically Powered

Peugeot Rechargable Electric Wine Opener
Peugeot Rechargable Electric Wine Opener

Electric wine bottle openers best fit these requirements. They are easy to hold being cylindrical in shape and of an appropriate size for a hand held device. They are also coated in non-slip rubber, but stainless steel versions are available. One end of the cylinder has an opening in which the neck of the bottle is inserted. Holding down a button electronically turns the metal spiral, driving it into the cork. The cork is then pulled up, along the spiral, out of the bottle. Pressing another button turns the spiral the opposite direction, releasing the cork from the device. A link to a video of operation can be found in the 'Videos' section. For people with upper body impairments, important features to look for include a non-slip material, and easy to press buttons. A clear base is also very helpful for visual feedback to see the cork as it is pulled from the bottle. These devices come with a separate foil cutter, which is usually found in the charging base. The foil cutter is a u-shaped tool, with unexposed sharp edges, that is clamped around the bottle neck and turned about its circumference. These devices must be recharged after 30-60 corks.

Gas Powered

Cork Pops Legacy Wine Opener
Cork Pops Legacy Wine Opener

Gas-powered wine bottle openers also require little effort to use. This device comes with a foil cutter built into the opening where the bottle neck is inserted. This provides greater leverage and the convenience of having to use only one device, rather than having a separate foil cutter. Instead of a spiral, this device uses a teflon-coated needle, which is easily pushed into the cork. Pressing once on the gas cartridge on top of the device propells the cork out of the bottle with a pop. A twist of the device releases the cork from the opener’s grip, and can then be pulled off the needle. A link to a video of operation can be found in the 'Videos' section. The gas cartridge needs to be replaced after 60-80 corks. There is only one manufacturer of this type of wine bottle opener. It is called Cork Pops Legacy.


[2] Operation of Electrically Powered Wine Bottle Opener

[3] Operation of Gas Powered Wine Bottle Opener

Cognitive Impairments

Some wine bottle openers may be too complex to figure out how to use without reading an instruction manual, because they require many steps. Persons cognitive impairments such as memory problems could experience difficulty remembering how to operate the tool even though they’ve used it before. They may also have trouble remembering what the tool for opening a bottle looks like.

Best Device for Cognitive Impairments

The best wine bottle openers for people with cognitive impairments such as memory problems would be ones that are simple and intuitive, with perceptible information.

Screwpull Corkscrew

Screwpull Corkscrew
Screwpull Corkscrew

The screwpull corkscrew is simple through its form language. The opening for the bottleneck is in an obvious silhouette of a bottleneck, which makes its operation more perceptible. This visual cue is also a good hint for people with memory problems who may have forgotten what the tool for uncorking bottles looks like. The exposed “worm” (screw part) further aids in the user’s mental picture of how the device works. This device is about six inches long. It consists of an arched plastic body straddling a 5-inch worm coated with Teflon. To use the screwpull corkscrew, the body is placed over the bottle top, with the lip of the body resting on the lip of the bottle. The screwpull body is held firmly to the bottle while turning the handle, which turns the worm into the cork. As the handle is turned, the cork emerges from the bottle. To remove the cork from the Screwpull, the lever is turned counterclockwise while holding on to the cork. [4]

Two-Prong Corkscrew

Two-Prong Corkscrew
Two-Prong Corkscrew

The two-prong corkscrew is the simplest-looking corkscrew. Its form tells the user that it is something that pinches or grabs. It is made up of two thin, flat metal prongs, one slightly longer than the other. To use a two-pronged corkscrew, the prongs are slid down into the tight space between the cork and the bottle. A back-and-forth seesaw motion is used until the base of the corkscrew handle is resting on the top of the cork. The handle is twisted around while gently being pulled up. Although more difficult to operate than the screwpull, the two-pronged corkscrew works well with very tight-fitting corks that no other corkscrews seem to be able to budge. [5]


[6] Operation of Two-prong Cork Remover

[7] Operation of Screwpull Corkscrew

Author: Cristina Del Rosario
Affiliation: College of Architecture in Georgia Tech