Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Utah Assistive Technology Foundation loan secures van, independence and time with family

photo of Roland on the ramp of his new van
Roland and his sevice dog, Danny. Roland is  on the ramp
leading to his cargo van.
Roland Bringhurst’s search for a van that could transport his wheelchair was a long one, and it hit some roadblocks. But in the end, the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation was able to help him get a low-interest loan for a van, fitted with a ramp.

“I never would have been able to secure a loan without the help of the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation,” he said.

UATF helps Utahns with disabilities secure low-interest loans, small grants and small business loans, all with the goal of enhancing their physical and financial independence.

The van has two front seats and a cargo area for his wheelchair. “This is going to do for what I really need, which is to do things with the family that require a lot of walking,” he said.

His walking without his wheelchair is limited to about half a block, so if the family wanted to go longer distances without a car, Bringhurst had a hard time participating.

He lives in Logan, but most of his family is outside of Cache Valley. He used to either rely on his son to take him to family events in a truck (with the wheelchair riding in back) or else take a shuttle service to Odgen. “Every once in a while they’d send a van that wasn’t accessible,” he said. Then he would have to wait for another van to arrive.

Having a van of his own makes it possible for Roland to maintain independence, do things with friends and see his family—all of which are good for his mental health. “Being able to see and associate with my family is very important,” he said.

For more information on the low-interest loans available through the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, visit our website.

photo of the van
The van and ramp

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Give the gift of independence. Use Amazon Smile.

photo of gifts

While you’re shopping for gifts this holiday season, why not give the gift of independence?

When you use Amazon Smile, .5 percent of your eligible purchases will go to support the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, which links people with disabilities up with small grants, loans and even small business loans to help them be more independent.

It’s easy to do: just click on "shop Amazon Smile" in the box to your right. Or you can visit our giving page, scroll down to the “Shop at Amazon Smile” box and click on “get started.” You can also find us at when you search for “Utah Assistive Technology Foundation.”

If the assistive technology labs, CReATE or the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation have given to you, this is your chance to give back. If you just want to help other people access the assistive technology that could help them be more independent, this is a way to pay it forward.

Thanks for your support, and happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

UATP at Holly Fair in Roosevelt

photo of holly

Plus answers to frequently asked questions

If you live in the Uintah Basin and have a disability--or if you are close to someone who does--you should watch for Cameron Cressall at the Holly Fair on the USU-Uintah Basin campus in Roosevelt this Friday and Saturday.

Cressall coordinates the AT lab in the Uintah Basin, and he loves to help people with disabilities find a way to reach their goals for independence. "It's not hard to be passionate about my job," he said. "I'm building, creating, doing fun things, making people happy."

The event runs Friday, November 4 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, November 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

But in case you can't make it to Holly Fair, here are some quick answers frequently asked questions:

Q: What is assistive technology?

A: Any device, high- or low-tech, that helps people with disabilities be more independent.

Q: Does the Assistive Technology Lab help people of a specific age group?

A: If you are between the ages of 0 and 150, you are in the right age range.

Q: I see you're on campus. Does that mean you only work with students and faculty?

A: Nope. We work with everybody.

photo of Cameron Cressall
Cameron Cressall
Q: What if I can't afford the technology that I need?

A: The Utah Assistive Technology Program includes a foundation that helps people with disabilities purchase the technology they need. It even facilitates small business loans for people with disabilities.

But you might be surprised at how many inexpensive, low-tech options are available.

Q: I purchased some assistive technology, but it's not quite right for me. What should I do?

A: The AT Lab specializes in finding customized solutions for people with disabilities. We can help bridge the gap between an off-the-shelf product and your specific situation.

Q: How can I find out more about the Utah Assistive Technology Program, and assistive technology in general? 

A: Visit our web page. You can also find lots of ideas on our  Pinterest boards. We're also on Facebook, Twitter (@utahATprogram) and  YouTube.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Customized rolling seat spares family from injury

Photo of Norma
Norma shows of the new rolling seat from outside the
Assistive Technology Lab in Logan.
What do you get when you combine a tiny bathroom, two conscientious parents and growing young man with multiple disabilities who uses a wheelchair?

Unfortunately for the Martinez family, it was an injury waiting to happen. It was important for them to bathe their son daily, but getting him in and out of the small bathroom space was dangerous for them and for him. Norma Martinez said they tried chairs designed for the bath for her son Gabe, but they were still unable to make it work for him in the space that they had. So they turned to the Assistive Technology Lab on the Logan Utah State University campus for a customized solution.

photo of Dan in the lab
AT Lab employee Dan O'Crowley puts on the finishing touches.

The AT Lab specialists designed a rolling seat that could be used to transport Gabe down the hall to a larger room with a Hoyer lift--a piece of equipment that lifts people into wheelchairs. They use towels to lift him out of the tub--an arrangement that spares them back strain.

"The chair worked out great," she said after giving it a test run. "We have more ideas to make it even better."

That's what the AT Lab does: find customized solutions for people with disabilities--usually for the cost of materials. You can find out more on the Utah Assistive Technology Program website. UATP is part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

Monday, October 10, 2016

UATP welcomes new staff member to CReATE

The Utah Assistive Technology Program welcomes Caroly Hulinsky to CReATE in Salt Lake City. (Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment is UATP's reutilization program; we take used and donated mobility equipment, refurbish it and transfer it at a low cost into the hands of people who need it.)

photo of Carolyn
Carolyn Hulinsky
Here is a quick Q & A with Carolyn.

Q: What do you do at CReATE?

A: I have a variety of tasks and don't do the same thing every day. I am responsible for maintaining the database by processing all of the transfers and purchases. I do any other office work that may be needed. I also schedule for delivery and pickup of chairs.

I am also very busy organizing, sorting and counting all of our inventory and entering it into the database. I am working to take the administrative work over from [CReATE Coordinator] Tom Boman so that he can have the time to work on and turn out more chairs. In time I will also begin to learn how to refurbish a chair... I feel like there is so much I can do and I want to learn.

I like working here at CReATE. I think it is so important to help individuals regain their mobility and facilitate their independence. I also think the volunteers and Tom are so fun to hand around as we work.

Q: How did you hear about CReATE?

A: I am a teacher in the morning, and I am co-teachers with Tom's wife. She told me about Tom and what he does. She later mentioned he was hiring someone to work in the office and help out with various things in the shop. It sounded like a really worthy place to work. I like helping others.

Do you have a background in disability?

I have a friend that has some experiences with disabling injury. My friend Chris Santacose is a paraglider. He had a traumatic injury that required him to do rehabilitation for a year before he was able to walk again. As a result he created project airtime.

I do have some background working with an individual with a disability. My sister-in-law had a major stroke when she was 35. I cared for her in my home for two years. I am still her guardian.

Carolyn, thanks for your time, and welcome to UTAP!

Modified walker helps boy interact with his family

photo of Aaron

Meet Aaron. He has a ready smile and a love of light and sound, but he was also born with a condition that gave him low muscle tone. He spent a lot of time on the floor until a walker brought him closer to the level of his family.

"I bought it with the intention of hoping it would help him learn to walk, to help him with his core strength and give him another option besides lying on the floor," said his mother, Kimberly. The walker, which was a simple purchase from Amazon, was a great improvement--it helped him interact more with his family and he soon learned how to work its bells and whistles. Aaron also progressed from needing to be propped up with towels to sitting by himself in the walker.

He enjoyed it, but as time went on, Aaron kept growing. He is now two and a half. His legs were so long, it was like he was sitting on the floor with his knees bent.

photo of larger walker wheelHe is not walking yet. He and a physical therapist from the Center for Persons with Disabilities are working on it, and they've made a lot of progress, but meanwhile he needed some modifications to keep himself upright.

His mother, Kimberly, went to the Up to 3 program for help--and Up to 3 turned to Assistive Technology Lab in Logan. (Up to 3 and the AT Lab are both part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.) The people at the AT Lab attached a wooden mount and some tall, after-market wheels to the walker, adding inches to its height. With the help of his modified walker, Aaron was standing again.

He looks happy in his walker, and Kimberly looks happy watching him in it. "He can move around," she said. "He's not strapped to a chair."

Aaron in his walker

Friday, September 30, 2016

Logan AT Lab welcomes new employee

Photo of Dan
Dan O'Crowley
Dan O'Crowley is the newest addition to the Assistive Technology Lab family. It's good news for the Logan lab--which has been remarkably busy--and for Dan, who is working toward a career in prosthetics.

"Growing up I've always loved engineering," he said. He nurtured his own interest in inventing and problem-solving throughout high school and has since gravitated toward prosthetics--a field that will require him to earn a master's degree.

In the meantime his working on a bachelor's degree in biology at Utah State University, and working part-time at the AT Lab. He learned about the lab from his wife Marcy, who did work there as part of her special education coursework.

"When I got married and I started school here, she said, 'Dan, you should go volunteer at this place I know.'"

She knew of his love of tinkering. He was a mechanic for a summer with his brother. He built a wooden fridge--patterned after an old-fashioned ice box--for his dad in wood shop during high school. And when his parents decided to build a house while he was in high school, he drew up the blueprints.

"That was a big learning curve," he said.

Marcy was right when she introduced him to the lab--he enjoyed it. After volunteering for a semester, he received an invitation from lab coordinator Clay Christensen to work there part-time. Now he is there, helping the lab handle an ever-growing workload.

Welcome, Dan!