Wednesday, January 23, 2019

3D printer in Logan helps build customized AT, gets its own specialized home

portrait
Bryce Hampton with Dan O'Crowley, in front of the housing they created for the
3D printer.

LOGAN--The Utah Assistive Technology Program in Logan has added a 3D printer to its fabrication lab. It gives our staff yet another way to customize assistive technology to meet the specific needs of clients. 

For example, it helped a boy who struggled with motor control in his right leg to ride his bike, after UATP employees Brandon Griffin helped design a pedal that solved the problem of a foot that kept sliding off the pedal.

The boy really likes riding his bike (he calls it his motorcycle).

portrait
Brandon Griffin came to UATP Logan after working
in the Uintah Basin location.
Griffin was able to print a pedal that kept the foot from sliding. That bit of custom-made AT was also “low profile;” it wasn’t clunky or noticeably different from the pedals of other boys’ bikes. “It seemed to work really well, and he was very excited to have his ‘motorcycle’ back,” Griffen said.

But as it turned out, UATP’s powerful new customization tool needed some adjustments of its own. When the UATP technicians used material that is able to withstand higher temperatures and higher stress, they were having trouble, especially if the print was more than a half-inch tall.

That material—called ABS plastic—needed to be kept at a warmer, more constant temperature than the air around it could provide. So technician Dan O’Crowley worked on it with Bryce Hampton, an intern who came to UATP via the Aggies Elevated program.

close-up of pedal with a small ridge that prevents the foot from sliding off
 A 3D printed pedal, customized for the boy
who will use it.
Rather than heat up the room where the printer was, they decided to trap the heat the machine created by building a box around it. It could hold in the heat the printer created, maintaining a more constant temperature.

Some other requirements: it had to be lightweight and inexpensive, so that it could be replaced easily and wouldn’t damage the printer if it was bumped. They settled on an old UATP standby—tri-wall cardboard—and added in some plexiglass windows so they could observe the print in progress.

They also needed two doors, but were momentarily stumped on how to add hinges to their tri-wall design. “Bryce came up with the idea of just cutting through the tri-wall except for that last layer,” O’Crowley said.

The result: UATP’s powerful tool now has a home within a home. ABS prints turn out better. AT lab technicians continue to beef up their printing skills. And assistive technology in Utah takes another big step into the future.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

UATP classifieds: helping Utahns access affordable AT statewide


magnifying glass over "Utah Assistive Technology Program Classifieds," uatpat.org
Do you have a gently used device to sell or give away? Do you need a gently used device? The Utah Assistive Technology Program announces the UATP Classifieds: our newest comprehensive means of helping Utahns access the equipment they need, regardless of where they live in the state.

The new online service connects device sellers and donors directly to people who need technology to be more independent.

Examples of equipment that can be advertised include mobility equipment, adapted vans, environmental adaptions, technology to aid with communication or learning, daily living, adapted computer technology and much more.

Sellers and donors can use the service to ensure their equipment can help someone else, once it is no longer needed.

To use the service, register online for UATP Classifieds. You can then search available devices or post a device of your own. Devices are searchable by device type (mobility or daily living, for example) and by list type (free, priced, priced or best offer).

Items posted will be subject to review before they can be viewed publicly. UATP provides a place for buyers, sellers, donors and recipients to meet, but UATP is a third party that is not involved in the exchange, liability or monetary transaction of devices on the site.

You can always find a link to the UATP Classifieds on the UATP website homepage. Just visit the page, scroll down and hit the "access UATP classifieds" button.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A young advocate in Africa receives a new-to-him wheelchair from UATP


This month in West Africa, a young man is trying out his motorized wheelchair for the first time. He joins with the Utah Assistive Technology Program in thanking the people who made it possible.

“My new wheelchair has changed my life,” said Jacques Zongo, who lives in Burkina Faso. “I am not always asking for help from friends to go somewhere. It’s like I got new feet. … I am not psychologically feeling my disability, hurting me all the time.” It was painful and discouraging when he wanted to go somewhere and could not get there on his own, he said. “Today I don’t think that will be the same. This wheelchair will help me to overcome my disability.”


In an earlier interview, Zongo said it was very hard to get a motorized wheelchair where he lives because nobody made them locally. He reached out to the UATP in Salt Lake City (formerly CReATE) via Facebook, after talking to Isamael Traore, another wheelchair user from Burkina Faso. Traore was one of a delegation of people from many countries who met UATP’s Salt Lake City Coordinator, Tom Boman, during a site visit with the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy in 2015. At the time, Boman tuned up Traore’s wheelchair and sent some extra wheels back with him.

Zongo asked if UATP could help him get a motorized wheelchair. The Salt Lake facility did have a chair that would fit his needs, but getting it to Burkina Faso was a greater hurdle.

Read the whole story on the Center for Persons with Disabilities blog.



Friday, November 30, 2018

UATP's executive director takes national leadership role

Sachiin Pavithran at the AUCD conference


Sachin Pavithran, UATP's executive director, will be serving as a national disability leader in addition to leading the Utah Assistive Technology Program.

He is the current president-elect of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, after serving for a year on the organization's board. When he began his service, he said his goal was to increase diversity in the organization--a goal he said has begun to be realized.

Still, there is a long way to go. "Accessibility isn't something that we need to discuss, it's something we need to do," he said.

When job seekers with disabilities don't face discrimination, when students with disabilities don't have to wait in line to receive the services or technology they need for success, when people with disabilities are not treated as second-class citizens, then his hopes for the disability field will be realized.

Read more on the Center for Persons with Disabilities' blog.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Logan's UATP gains a new coordinator

The Utah Assistive Technology Program welcomes Garrett Halligan as its new coordinator in Logan.

He brought welding and construction skills with him to UATP. He also has a bachelor's in exercise and sport science from the University of Utah.

Garrett formerly worked at Alpine Medical as a rehabilitation sales representative, with a focus on seating and mobility.

That background will come in handy as he reuses, refurbishes and customizes assistive technology for clients.

As a sales representative, he saw firsthand how some clients need options that are not available off-the-shelf. He worked with former coordinator Clay Christensen to customize a chair for a client, building a joystick that would work for a person with severely contractured hands.

Garrett's main goal moving forward is to make sure people know about the Utah Assistive Technology Program.

"I'm a resource," he said. "Whatever help people need, if I'm not able to to it here, then at least I have the resources to help them elsewhere.

If you live in northern Utah and have an assistive technology need, contact Garrett at 800-524-5152.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Logan coordinator departs for North Dakota. It’s hard to say goodbye.

Clay works with a young woman in a wheelchair, on a lift.
Clay works with a client to ensure she receives
a wheelchair that is right for her.
By JoLynne Lyon


This month, the Utah Assistive Technology Program’s Logan coordinator leaves us for North Dakota. The program will continue, but his departure leaves a hole in a lot of hearts—not just among UATP staff but the many people he has served along the way.

Whether he was working with a client or giving a presentation to a US representative, one thing was clear: Clay was invested in his job, not just as a means to a paycheck but as a way to make people’s lives better.

 “Watching someone achieve their personal goals because of a little help we gave them is an emotional experience,” he said following one of his early projects: building a device that helped a six-year-old boy steady himself while he used his Wii gaming system. The stand allowed the boy to steady himself while he played with family members or used Wii Fit to exercise and work on balance.

“This was the first project I ever accompanied Clay on,” said Storee Powell, social media specialist for the Center for Persons with Disabilities. UATP is located in the CPD at Utah State University. “I remember it because it was a such a unique but simple device that enabled this child to be included and get the therapy he needed. Clay wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty or get out in the community. I remember Clay always saying he'd try building or adapting anything at least once, and I believe that was true.”

A young client tries out a new
device in one of Clay's earlier projects.
As a coordinator who runs a fabrication lab for assistive technology, Clay was always trying new things. People would come to him with a need for a device that either didn’t exist or wasn’t in their price range. Sometimes they had already purchased equipment that needed some adjustments before it would work for them. Clay kept working with them until the need was met.

“Clay has a very creative mind,” said Lois Summers, UATP business assistant. “He can resolve simple and complex issues, without getting frustrated or giving up. He has deep compassion when serving everyone, regardless of who they are or what they need.”

It was a pleasure to watch him at work. (I do PR for the CPD, and in writing Clay’s goodbye blog post I’m speaking in first person for a minute.) The fabrication lab was a favorite place to visit because it had happy people in it. They were busy on projects that would help other people reach a goal. Those happy people were there because Clay hired them or invited them to work as volunteers. He supported them and helped ensure the things they made would work for the client.

I’d go into the shop, breathe in the smells of welding smoke or sawdust, take my notes, and leave reassured that there are people in the world who work hard to help other people, every day.

“What I saw with Clay was the direct impact he had with families and individuals with disabilities,” said Sachin Pavithran, UATP’s executive director. “He was able to relate to them in a way that made them more comfortable to talk about what they were going through, so that Clay could get them what they needed.”

We will miss you, Clay!

Clay introduces US Representative Chris Stewart to the Utah Assistive Technology Program.




Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Logan's UATP helps one woman, starts a chain reaction

portrait of Sharon in her wheelchair
Sharon Ross
Sharon Ross met Clay Christensen at the Logan Utah Assistive Technology Program when she had a problem with the foot rest on her wheelchair. Something was wrong with the weld. She tried to get help from the vendor, but when that wasn't working for her she brought her wheelchair to UATP in Logan, and Christensen fixed it.

She remembered her experience--and that UATP helps connect donated and refurbished equipment with people who need it--when a friend with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was unable to get around. Sharon's friend could not afford a new wheelchair, and her health was very bad.

Sharon visited Christensen and asked if he had anything that would work for her friend. He took her to the used, donated wheelchairs at UATP, and they discovered a reclining chair.

"We took it to my friend and she was elated," Sharon said. Her friend used the chair until she passed away a few months later.

Since then, three of her friends have needed walkers. Again, they didn't feel they could afford a solution, but Christensen found something that would work for them.

That's the mission of the AT Lab, Christensen said. "Most of the time people with disabilities are on a limited income anyway. Insurance isn't covering everything they need."

Now, he is working on another project for her--a lift that will be both customized and affordable. "There are a lot of solutions out there that can be adapted," he said. "Some were not specifically intended for disability use but they certainly have an application for it, with a much kinder price tag."

If you live in Utah and have a need for equipment that would help you be more independent, UATP may be able to help. Affordable fees for service may apply. Find out more on the UATP website.