Out of all the adaptive innovations since the last three decades, the wide world of grilling hasn’t exactly kept pace.
Just about all consumer grills, the kind you think of for a classic backyard cookout, are built for people to use while standing. If you want anything close to that kind of TV-commercial, Hollywood-movie-backyard-experience from a power wheelchair or mobility scooter, you have limited options. We found only one company that’s making an ADA-compliant grill, but get ready to drop a small fortune (more on that later).
That said, we cooked up a few ideas that might fuel your Memorial Day Weekend cookout. But before we dig in, it might be worthwhile to clear the air on language around outdoor cooking.
Depending on whom you speak with, there can be an ocean of difference between grilling and barbecue. If you’re from basically any state below the Mason-Dixon Line, a barbecue includes tedious meal prep of carefully selected cuts of meat. While, on the other hand, a cookout or grilling is just firing up the charcoal or gas grill and sizzling some burgers and hot dogs, maybe a few veggies. For most of us, we’re grilling. For the die-hard enthusiasts who have their own secret marinade recipes, they’re barbecuing.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the ways you can enjoy cooking out in the open air from a wheelchair.
Most state and national parks were created before the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and not exactly optimized for wheelchair riders. The ADA, however, has been around long enough at this point that one of its most important provisions has had the chance to work its magic.
It’s the same reason your town’s public works department must include wheelchair ramps and those bright yellow bump pads whenever it installs a new sidewalk or replaces a curb.
Any new construction or renovations must comply with ADA rules.
That means there’s a good chance your local state or national park, or even local community park – basically anything owned by a taxpayer-funded entity – has updated equipment including picnic tables, grills and access routes to accommodate wheelchair riders.
That’s a long-winded way to say, if you like charcoal grilling out at your favorite park, the fixed grills in picnic areas will likely be at an accessible height and size for you to use safely.
It’s not the same as grilling in your own backyard, and it’s certainly not conducive to a spontaneous weeknight cookout. But with a little prep and a cooler, you’ll be sizzling juicy burgers over an open flame in no time.
The best part about these grills: they’re completely free to use. Just don’t forget the charcoal!
These might be some of our favorite options. Portable grills usually cost about as much as a standard size grill. They’re smaller, lower and run on small camp-size propane canisters, which makes it easier to switch out the gas. Downside: obviously you won’t get as much time between propane canister swaps as you would from a typical 20-pound tank.
From the company that first whet consumer appetites for backyard grilling, Weber makes a terrific portable grill called the Weber Traveler. At $325, it’s on the pricey end when it comes to portable grills. However, it’s sleek features, and user-friendly set-up function make it ideal for wheelchair riders.
We also like the Coleman RoadTrip LX Propane Grill for it’s straight leg design and the ability to put it on a tabletop. At about $270 on Amazon, it’s a little more affordable than the Weber. With the RoadTrip LX, unless you’re parking it out back in a fixed place, you’ll likely need more help moving it around and setting it up. It’s a bit less portable than the Weber Traveler and other grills in this class.
Is it wrong that we mostly like this one for its looks? The Oklahoma Joe’s Rambler Tabletop Charcoal Grill costs about $150 and gives us visions of searing steaks and turning brats this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Accessibility-wise, you can put it basically anywhere. Depending on how far down you can reach, it’s stubby legs mean it’s perfectly comfortable cooking up your outdoor feast on the ground.
If you’ve got somebody handy around, ask them to build a simple stand for it to rest on (hey, we mentioned we might be asking you to get creative). Trade them for some melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs in return. It shouldn’t be too hard to convince them.
We promised you the bank buster, and here it is. The Lynx Sedona ADA Compliant Grill seems to be the only propane grill on the market designed specifically for wheelchair riders.
Lynx makes some of the world’s nicest and most expensive grills and outdoor kitchen appliances, and actually asked the wheelchair rider community for help designing this model about seven years ago. Love that!
It sits lower, has a lift-assist hood, and even high clearance for your front wheels to poke under while you get close to the grilling surface. Speaking of surface, it’s not as wide as the typical three-foot grill top, which means most people should be able to reach every corner of it without repositioning their wheelchairs. That’s all the fun stuff. The price, however, is a jaw-dropping $3,429. Somebody needs to tell GrillMaster there’s a market opportunity here.