The potential of assistive technology for people with developmental disabilities

By Erin Hough 

As an advocate at the Disability Law Center, my position involves mainly working on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the last year, I have spent a large amount of time in facilities that serve this population. 


Erin Hough, advocate at the
Disability Law Center
I have visited 33 community day treatment programs, numerous post-high school transition programs and almost every Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF-ID) in the state. I also maintain a regular presence at the state’s developmental center. 

Through my observations at all of these places, I have seen a surprisingly small usage of assistive technology (AT). Research supports my observations that AT is being underutilized with this population. A recent study by B. Bryant, Seok, Ok and D. Bryant (2012) found that a majority of individuals in group residential settings do not use AT.  

Followers of this blog are probably aware of the amazing potential for assistive technology to improve peoples’ lives. It can increase peoples’ abilities to live independently. It can enable them to communicate their thoughts and ideas more completely. My question is, if AT has all this potential, why isn’t it being used more widely? What can we do to create the kinds of changes that we want to see?

I do not have the answers to these questions. But Bryant et al. cites three main barriers: funding for devices, training of service providers and AT users, and the lack of a proper person-technology match. 

I think that we have some excellent AT professionals and programs in this state, including the Utah Center for Assistive Technology (UCAT) and the Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP). They are working vigorously to overcome these barriers. 

The DLC hopes to join their efforts by helping people overcome funding obstacles and helping to spread the word about the potential for AT to improve lives. If you have any ideas on how we can do more to further these efforts, please share your thoughts in the comment section below. 

Making a difference

This post originally appeared in the Red Rock Center for Independence spring 2014 newsletter. Learn more about the Center at http://www.rrci.org/



'In January, a mom contacted the Red Rock Center in hopes of being able to borrow a wheelchair for her son. The wheelchairs that her son was using had completely fallen apart and he was unable to go to school school on the bus because his wheelchair was unsafe. The little boy needed a pediatric size chair with a 5 point harness. Unfortunately, at 
the time, RRCI didn’t have this specialized wheelchair in the loan bank. 

The family has been approved by Shriner’s Hospital for a new chair. However, they were months away from receiving the equipment. He really needed a loaner chair until he could get his new chair built. 

A post was made on the Red Rock Center’s Facebook page for help. “We need a little help today!” and went on to describe the desperate situation of this family. The post was viewed by the Facebook community and passed on to Clay Christensen, AT lab coordinator and Alma Burgess, program coordinator for Citizens Re-utilizing Assistive Technology Equipment (CReATE) at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. 

Tom Boman, CReATE’s wheelchair technician contacted Red Rock Center’s assistive technology specialist Mike Earl, who explained exactly what was needed. Because CReATE maintains such a large inventory of refurbished mobility equipment, Boman was able to quickly locate a suitable loaner for this little guy! 

Within 24 hours of the original Facebook post, a wheelchair had been found and arrangements had  been made to deliver it to the family in St. George. One of the best things about the people in the state of Utah is that when there is a need, there is NOTHING that can’t be done!' 

People-first chapter to start in Cache Valley

Options for Independence and GAP are starting a People-First Chapter in Cache Valley for people with developmental disabilities. The program advocates for people-first to help them increase their independence. The kick-off is tonight!


Adapted drive controls make driving possible for Utah woman

Driving is part of many people's everyday lives, and is part of what makes us independent. 

This need was no different for Monique, 30, who has Epidermolysis Bullosa, meaning her fingers are fused.

Monique received a small grant from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation to purchase an adapted driving control device for her car. The spinner knob was put on the car by the Utah Center for Assistive Technology

Watch the video to see how it is working for Monique!



Free online webinar: Eligibility requirements for getting assistive technology

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training, “Eligibility requirements for getting assistive technology,” on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. MST.

This free training will be presented by Disability Law Center attorneys Rob Denton and LauraLee Gillespie. They will explain eligibility requirements and processes for getting assistive technology in the world of Medicaid, Medicare, Private Insurance, Vocational Rehabilitation and Special Education. This webinar will help you understand what is required to qualify for assistive technology services and common legal issues the Disability Law Center has addressed concerning assistive technology. 

Rob Denton is a Senior Attorney at the Disability Law Center. Denton has practiced in various issue areas during his twenty-six years at the Disability Law Center, including access to various assistive devices through Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance, special education and vocational rehabilitation services. Denton must love working at the Disability Law Center since he has been there since 1988.  

LauraLee Gillespie, an attorney at the Disability Law Center, focuses her practice in special education and Vocational Rehabilitation disputes. As a former public educator, she brings a unique understanding to her work with the Utah Department of Education. Gillespie received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Weber State University in 1996. While teaching, she received her paralegal certificate at the University of Washington. A 2011 S. J. Quinney College of Law graduate and a 2012 Utah State Bar Licenses attorney, Gillespie loves the work she has been involved in at the Disability Law Center since 2009.

In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed Internet access. If you are interested in participating please RSVP by Tuesday, April 15th, to Storee Powell via email storee.powell@usu.edu, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.

If you are a screen reader user please contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or sachin.pavithran@usu.edu, no later than Friday, April 11th, to make arrangements to participate via phone. If you need any other accommodations in order to participate in the training please let Sachin know by this date also.

Please feel free to pass on this information to anyone that you think might be interested.

March Madness at CReATE

March was really Madness at CReATE - 13 Utahns with disabilities received refurbished wheelchairs and scooters from the non-profit. CReATE also had 55 devices donated in the month of March - so check out our ever-expanding inventory. Here a some of CReATE's March wheelchair recipients who are now moving along!







Light the Fire at the National Federation of the Blind of Utah Convention

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND OF UTAH
ANNUAL STATE CONVENTION
PROVO MARRIOTT HOTEL
MAY 8-10, 2014

THE THEME OF THE CONVENTION IS 
“LIGHT THE FIRE WITHIN”
FROM UTAH’S OWN WINTER OLYMPICS IN 2002

Special Guests Include
Greg DeWall, 2012 Bronze Paralympic Medalist in Judo 

Stacy Cervenka, former Aide to Senator Brownback of Kansas;
 current aid to members of the California State Legislature 

Scott LaBarre, member of the National Board of Directors; President, NFB of Colorado; 
Attorney with LaBarre Law firm in Colorado 

Other Features Include
Improv night with the NFB of Utah Players
 Sports Fashion Show
Exciting Auction
HUGE Door Prizes! 

REGISTRATION FOR THE CONVENTION BEGINS NOW 
Register at www.nfbutah.org OR
Call our Hotline at 801-INFO-NFB (463-6632)

HOTEL ROOM RATES ARE ONLY $69.00 PER NIGHT
YOU MUST MAKE HOTEL RESERVATIONS BEFORE APRIL 17
IN ORDER TO GET THIS ROOM RATE
Use the Marriott Hotel link below
Book your group rate: National Federation of the Blind Early Booking Special >>
OR Call Marriott Hotel at 1 888 236 2427 

COME JOIN US FOR YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO
TAKE HOME THE GOLD!