Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Another bike, another happy, active summer

photo of Georgia on the bike
Georgia tries out her new bike

Georgia Sumsion is an active 13 year old who enjoys bike riding, but her short arms made steering a challenge. Her dad modified some bikes for her, adding thumb shifters, for example. Even so she had some hair-raising, balance-challenging moments.

"We've had a lot of near misses because we live on some hills," said her dad, Aaron.

They came to the Logan Assistive Technology Lab within the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University, hoping for a more comprehensive solution. They found it with the help of volunteers who work at the lab. Todd McGregor put in a thumb shifter, adjusted the pedals for a better fit, customized the handlebars and added a spring that stabilized the steering so it didn't go wonky if Georgia lifted one hand from the bars.

Georgia took it out for its first spin, looped around the parking lot, and laughed a lot.

"I love it," she said. "It's absolutely perfect."

Family bike rides are in the future, Aaron said.

From left to right: volunteers Mike Stokes and Todd McGregor, Georgia Sumsion, and AT Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Meet Ed Patillo, CReATE volunteer

photo of Ed Patillo

Ed Patillo came to CReATE for a volunteer opportunity that allowed him to tinker with mechanical things. He stayed for the jazz.

Well, actually, Patillo said CReATE Coordinator Tom Boman had something to do with it. "Tom's just got the kind of personality that just draws you in," he said. But they agree that a shared love of jazz music makes the hours they work together more enjoyable. They tweak, fix and clean while saxophones and funk guitars play in the background.

Patillo retired from Unisys after 34 years before coming to CReATE. He was a computer repairman who was ready to stop working on computers--but when he saw a volunteer opportunity that required mechanical skills, his interest was piqued.

"As a homeowner you get into these things," he said. "If you're not making millions of dollars a year, you find yourself fixing things." Now, he fixes wheelchairs and other mobility equipment on a regular basis at the CReATE shop in Salt Lake City. Boman said Patillo is the "backbone of the volunteers," training other volunteer workers when Tom is busy.

"It's a nice working environment," Patillo said. "It only takes a couple of months before you realize, this is kind of neat."

Thanks for helping us out, Ed!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Family prepares for a summer of bike rides, thanks to Logan AT Lab

photo of Parker and Chris with the bike
Parker and Chris try the bike out for the first time.

The Layton family likes to bike together. But when Parker, 8, outgrew the bike trailer they were using to tow him, they needed another option; preferably one that would allow Parker to sit in front of the person pedaling for him. (Parker has Down syndrome.)

The Laytons hoped he could ride where they could see him during their outdoor ventures.

They looked online, and found a solution that would work... for $5,000.

So they began networking with other families of Down Syndrome children, in person and on Facebook, "The first hit we got said, 'We're following this because we have the same problem,'" said Christopher Layton, Parker's dad. They found a used bike in Texas, but before they could make arrangements to bring it to their home in Utah, it was gone.

"I thought about a GoFundMe page," Christopher said. When a friend suggested he should contact the Utah Assistive Technology Program's Assistive Technology Lab within UATP at the Center for Persons with Disabilities, he gave it a try.

Within days he was talking to Mike Stokes, a volunteer with the AT Lab. Mike brought in Todd McGregor, another volunteer, and together they began creating something new and wonderful, using parts from five old bikes...

photo of a stripped down bike frame


... a high-end jogging stroller and a custom-made box...

photo of a bike frame with the beginnings of a box in front

... plus a sawed-off chair.

Photo of Atkinson by the chair
Shawn Atkinson with his donated creation.

Shawn Atkinson of Atkinson Furniture & Upholstery covered the chair in Aggie blue and added the U State logo. Jim Kofed at the Logan Deseret Industries donated bikes and other materials.

The two volunteers took it out for a test spin, to make sure it felt strong enough to support an eight-year-old boy.

photo of Mike and Todd, testing the equipment. Mike is riding in the box.

Finally, they finished the project...

photo of carrier portion of bike



...and invited the family over to give it a try. Parker was nervous about the harness, but once he wore the lap belt and experienced a ride, he was smiling wide.

"The biggest reward in volunteering at the AT Lab is seeing the expressions of happiness, and knowing that the person will live a better life when we complete a project," said Stokes.

Photo of Parker, smiling, as he rides with his dad in the new bike.
Parker's first ride, in a slow, controlled environment. He is wearing a lap belt in this photo, and will wear safety gear
as he becomes more accustomed to the new equipment.
"It's been a godsend to us," Chris said. "Everything just fell together, one piece after another."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Construction business grows, thanks to UATF

Photo of a backhoe, digging pavement
York Martinez received a loan from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation to help land his first big construction contract. Four years later, his business is growing and employing others.

York Martinez had experience, a construction business plan and a large contract waiting—but he needed more equipment. He was a veteran with a disability, and he wasn’t having much luck getting a loan from a traditional lender.

He turned to the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund and the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, which work together to provide low-interest loans to entrepreneurs with disabilities. Martinez got the loan, bought the equipment, and landed his first long-term contract. “It made it very easy for me, especially when I was trying to start a business,” he said.

Small business loans from UMLF and UATF allow small business owners to apply for a loan and pay the prime interest rate, minus .25 percent. Loans run from $500 to $25,000, and there is no income limit to apply.

Today, more than four years after Martinez came to us, CastraCon LLC is still doing business, working with partners, employing three people full-time, and providing work to many others as construction projects become available. The business is solid and growing, Martinez said. Working with business partners allows them all to keep a pool of good construction workers employed.

For more information on small business loans through the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, call 800-524-5-152 or visit their webpage.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Know a smart marketing student? Send them to us!

The CReATE initiative seeks a summer intern who is at least a junior in marketing. If you're interested, and you have marketing and marketing research savvy, this is for you! If you go to Utah State University, apply for Job #95466 at Career Aggie. If you don't, contact JoLynne at 435.797.7412 . 

This position is available to candidates from all Utah universities. CReATE is located in Salt Lake City.

This position will last for 12 weeks.

CReATE is an initiative that puts refurbished mobility devices into the hands of Utahns who need them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Webinar updates: iPad apps and CoughDrop

Our next webinar is tomorrow, Wednesday, April 19. Did you miss the email? It's not too late to sign up, but you must do it today. The video will also be archived on our YouTube channel.

Also, videos from our last webinar are now available. Details below.

CoughDrop webinar


Looking for info on alternative and augmentative information? Join us for a free webinar on Wednesday, April 19 at 3:30 MDT.


The Utah Assistive Technology Program is teaming up with My CoughDrop to present a webinar on cloud-based and affordable alternative and augmentative communication. This will be broadcast on Wednesday, April 19 and will be archived later on our YouTube channel.

Scot Wahlquist joins us on Wednesday, April 19 at 3:30 MDT to walk us through features of CoughDrop.

CoughDrop is an augmentative and alternative communication app that utilizes the cloud and allows teams to access it across multiple platforms and devices.

Scot will be showing several unique cloud features to build a stronger team around the communicator including:
  • Creating, editing, and sharing boards from your laptop, then synching to the device of the communicator;  
  • Goal setting features, data and reporting tools;
  • Modeling across multiple supporters' devices to build a stronger AAC experience for the entire team.
To attend, RSVP to JoLynne at utahat[at]gmail.com. To find the archived version, check back with our YouTube channel.


Videos from iPad apps for reading & comprehension


Our last webinar, iPad apps for reading & comprehension, provided fodder for several short videos now available on our YouTube channel. Please go there for quick demonstrations of Google Read&WriteNotability, the LiveScribe Echo SmartpenCoWriterClaro ScanPen and Prizmo.

Monday, April 3, 2017

A custom-made part keeps Logan man rolling to his job

Johne came to the Logan AT Lab last week because he needed a repair. His wheelchair takes a beating when he pulls it out of his car every day, and the part where the foot pedal attaches to the chair was close to the breaking point.

My insurance ordered it, but that's not helping me now," he said. "I have to go to work."
So he asked AT Lab volunteer Mike Stokes for help.


Johne works as an electronics tester in Logan. He also wants to train for the 5K Run, Walk and Roll race he will be doing with his wife in Salt Lake City to benefit families and survivors of brain injury.

With the weather warming up, he wanted a chair that could survive some extra outdoor use.

Mike found some parts from a different chair and got to work cutting them to fit Johne's needs.



And before the morning was out, Johne had a working wheelchair.

Because sometimes, waiting isn't an option.