Strategies for Success When Grilling with a Visual Impairment

5.3.147 Summer Grilling

Summertime grilling is a Wisconsin pastime.

Grilling is a fun way to spend time outside and gather with family and friends. It can be a healthier cooking method, since fat drips off food as it cooks, and you are likely to use less butter on grilled foods. Learn how to choose the right grill for you, follow accessibility and safety recommendations, and find the right equipment to make grilling a breeze. Here are tips to help you grill with confidence.

Pick Your Grill:

Before you get started, decide what type of grill you would like to use. Electric, gas/propane, and charcoal grills are available. Picking the right one for you makes all the difference in a successful cooking adventure.

Electric grills come in both indoor and outdoor models. Grill temperature can easily be controlled and the heating element is a relatively safe distance away from the cooking area, so these are likely the easiest for an individual who is blind or visually impaired.

Gas or propane grills have burners usually controlled by knobs. With proper markings and experimentation, this model of grill is very user-friendly.

“I have always used a gas grill,” says Tim Davis. “Once I set the grill to the temperature I want, I know about how long it will be till my food is ready.”

Charcoal grills are more of a challenge, since cooking is done over flames. Monitoring and controlling the temperature of a charcoal fire using nonvisual methods requires practice and experimentation.

Tips and Techniques for Success:

First, get acquainted with your grilling area. While the grill is still cool, explore the grilling surface and the materials surrounding the grate. Getting a good mental image of this area will help when the grill is hot and cannot be touched. Practice flipping food before you cook it while the grill is still cool. Doing this can help you flip the meat with confidence when it is hot.

Stay by your grill at all times. Juices can drip down from your food as it cooks, which can result in a high flame if left unattended. Be aware of what is in your environment, and avoid grilling under any overhanging branches, as the tree could start on fire.

Once the grill is hot, a long spatula is useful for exploring what is happening on the grill surface. This tool can help the griller learn the exact location of any food which is being grilled.

If done thoughtfully and safely, use your hands while grilling. While you cannot touch the surface of the grill, you can usually touch the food as it is cooking. Locate the food with the long spatula, then gently touch it with your fingers. This can help determine whether a burger has been flipped or assess the doneness of a steak. Learn more about how to tell the doneness of food based on touch at

An essential tool for grilling without vision is a timer. Cooking meat or vegetables for a specified amount of time is one method of knowing when foods need to be flipped or when grilled items are done. As different thicknesses of meats need different cooking times, a Talking Digital Cooking Thermometer is recommended to ensure meat is fully cooked.

Once food is done, grab it with a Double Spatula Turner to remove it from the heat.

“Pretty much anything can be cooked on a grill,” says Janell Groskreutz, who enjoys making homemade pizza on her gas grill. “Experiment and have fun,” she encourages.

Adaptive Products that can Help:

A talking cooking thermometer can ensure food safety standards while grilling.

Here are six assistive products that may be helpful with your grilling experience:

  1. Double tonged spatula
  2. Super Oven Gloves
  3. Adjustable slicing knife with guard
  4. Low vision cutting board
  5. Talking digital cooking thermometer
  6. Talking timer

These are available at the Council’s Sharper Vision Store. Visit the store at 754 Williamson Street in Madison, go to our website at, or call 800-783-5213 to talk about adaptive cooking products.

If you are new to grilling with a vision Impairment, or would like to learn how to grill using adaptive techniques, please contact Brent, the Council’s Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. Call him at (608) 237-8112 or email to schedule an appointment.

Above all else, have fun. Grilling is meant to be a hobby and a cooking process to be enjoyed. Now that you know the different types of grills, some methods for success and adaptive products that can help, all there is left is to decide what food you will make. Get out there and grill!

Want more tips and a recipe to get started? Read this article from The Outlook from Here blog about how Janell Groskreutz uses adaptive technology as she grills. A recipe for shish kebabs is included.


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