AT Lab brings cashier and customers to same level

photo of Diane handing a receipt to a customer

Thanks to the Assistive Technology Lab at USU-Logan, a friendly cashier can see eye to eye with her customers.

Diane Young of Logan worked through Vocational Rehabilitation to find a job with a large retailer, but her short stature made it hard for her to reach the keypad and interact with shoppers. She needed a platform.

The project was referred to the Assistive Technology Lab, part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program within the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. From there, Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen and Mike Stokes, a volunteer, set about assessing the need.

photo of Diane on the platformWhen they looked for a ready-made platforms online, they decided those options were significantly less customized and more expensive than what they could build on their own.

Stokes and Christensen visited Young at work. They went with her to an empty cash register where they could take measurements and find the right height for Young's work station floor. Then Stokes made a platform that would not only raise the level of her work station, but also fill the work space without leaving any gaps that could be a safety hazard.

Stokes said the finished product was made of lightweight corrugated packaging material and covered with non-slip padding. He built handles into it to make it easier to move.

"It's working really well," Young said. "It's very lightweight. You can move it easily."

"After she got comfortable with it she was cashiering," Stokes said. "This was a great project. It was simple, quick and it makes it so she can work."

The AT labs at USU help find customized solutions for people with disabilities who want to meet a goal. Projects are usually done for the cost of materials, though donations--either monetary or of used equipment--are encouraged. More information is available on the lab's webpage.

UATP trailer means CReATE devices can now go on the road

Photo of Jose Morales in his wheelchair
Jose Morales receives a wheelchair from CReaTE
in Salt Lake City. Soon, people in  the
Uintah Basin will have access to CReATE devices.
For years, CReATE has been putting equipment into the hands--and smiles on the faces--of people who need mobility equipment on the Wasatch Front. Now, refurbished mobility devices can roll out to new parts of the state.

An exchange of devices between CReATE in Salt Lake City and the Uintah Basin can now begin, thanks to the opening of the Utah Assistive Technology Program's new USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab and the addition of a big trailer.

The new trailer was purchased through a grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, and it's an important part of UATP's goal to make services mobile in the Uintah Basin.

UATP staff can now to pick up donations from the USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab and deliver them to the CReATE program in Salt Lake City. There, they can be refurbished and transferred at an affordable cost to people who need them. The CReATE program can also transfer wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility-related assistive technology back to people in the basin.

"We want people to know that this is part of the Roosevelt Lab," said Clay Christensen, the Logan AT lab coordinator. "{Roosevelt AT Lab Coordinator] Cameron will represent CReATE in the basin area."

That's good news--and it's sure to bring more smiles to people with disabilities in rural Utah.

Save the Date: Roosevelt Open House

photo of Cameron Cressall
Cameron Cressall, AT Lab Coordinator
Join us as we celebrate the opening of the new USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab in Roosevelt on Wednesday, September 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room of Utah State University's Roosevelt campus. We will introduce our new director as well as services available from the AT Lab.

We are inviting other service providers to join us and set up a table at our open house.

If you provide services for people within the Uintah Basin in Utah and you are interested in setting up a booth, please email JoLynne at utahatp [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wheels for Daemon

photo of Daemon
Daemon in his new chair
Daemon Wabel had outgrown his wheelchair. “He’d had the same wheelchair since he was three, and he’d outgrown it,” said his mother, Stacey.

It was too narrow, and it was falling apart. But replacing it would mean paying a $4000 deductible, and that price was awfully steep.

So Stacey found an ad on KSL Classifieds that mentioned the CReATE program. Based in Salt Lake City, CReATE takes used mobility devices and refurbishes them, then transfers them back to people who need them at a low cost.

She contacted Tom Boman at CreATE. Tom asked for some measurements, then searched the inventory for a chair that would work. CREaTE doesn’t normally stock pediatric chairs, but they did find a smaller chair for Daemon. “It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” Stacey said.

That was just the first step. Boman needed to refurbish Daemon’s new chair, so he did some welding on the old one to help it hold together until the refurbished one was ready. “He’d gotten a lot of use out of that old chair,” Boman said.

Boman also modified the new chair so that it could accommodate Daemon as he grows.
When Daemon received his new chair, it was a joyous moment. He does not talk, but he still communicated.  “When we changed him out of his other chair, he screamed with delight,” Stacey said. “I’m not exaggerating. He was just bouncing around in there. … It was very obvious that he loved this chair.”

Boman said CReATE helps people—like Daemon—who have needs that cannot be met. Often, insurance programs only pay for a wheelchair every five years. Many chairs don’t last that long. 

Fortunately for CReATE, other chairs do outlast their owners’ need. Some of those are donated to CReATE, where they are refurbished and transferred to those who need them at a low cost. CReATE (Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment) is part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program within the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

To find out more, visit the CReATE web page.

Reeve foundation grant augments USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab services

A little girl is fitted for assistive technology
The AT Lab in Roosevelt will offer services
similar to those out of the Logan AT Lab.
People with disabilities in the Uintah Basin will soon have more help meeting their goals for independence, thanks to a grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the new Assistive Technology Lab at Utah State University in Roosevelt.

The lab and the $73,925 High Impact Innovative Assistive Technology grant from the foundation will open up new possibilities. People in the Uintah Basin will have expanded opportunities to obtain and learn about assistive technologies that could make a difference to people with mobility, communication, vision, hearing or other disabilities.

“We have a physical presence over there in the Uintah Basin now,” said Alma Burgess, the grant’s principal investigator.  “That allows us to do something similar to what the AT Lab does in Logan now.”

The funding will support the Roosevelt lab’s services. It will also enhance the device loan bank already operating there. The loan bank allows people to find out if a piece of assistive technology—which can sometimes be costly—will truly work for them before they make a purchase.

The Roosevelt AT Lab will also provide training on how to use assistive technology; build, modify and maintain devices; and work with people with disabilities. In addition, it will perform services similar to those already offered in the CReATE program in Salt Lake City, offering affordable refurbished devices to people who need them.

Uber and the Disability Law Center team up for better transit

Wheelchair accessible vehicles introduced in Utah

By Nate Crippes
Utah Disability Law Center

Technology is constantly improving.  This includes assistive technology, as I am sure many readers have seen.  At the Disability Law Center, we advocate for people with disabilities to get the assistive technology they need.  Rarely have we been able to advocate for the improvement of technology.  Over the last few months, however, we received such an opportunity. 

Here at the DLC, we are aware that people who use wheelchairs have little access to taxicabs and similar services.  As we were looking into options to try to force their hands at providing some access, we were put in touch with the folks at Uber.  We were aware that Uber has been operating their Uber Assist program, an option for Uber riders that is able to provide more assistance for people with disabilities, in Utah for quite some time.  While this program can help certain people in wheelchairs, it did not provide access to people who use power chairs. 

The DLC and Uber worked together to find vehicles, and drivers, that were equipped to provide riders to people who use power chairs.  After a few months and several meetings, we were able to get a vehicle provider on board to get Uber WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) up and running. 

Last month, Andrew Riggle, DLC Public Policy Advocate, and Ms. Wheelchair Utah, Eliza McIntosh, took the inaugural Uber WAV ride to the Utah Center for Assistive Technology in Salt Lake City.  

In order to request a ride, once you have the Uber app, you just select “Access” on the vehicle icon slider and select WAV.   Unfortunately, vehicles may be limited at this time, until we get more providers and drivers on the app.  However, Uber is aware when rides are requested, and an increased demand will help us get more vehicles on the platform to ensure more access.  

Video: Accessing Services from the Utah Assistive Technology Program

Do you need an assistive technology device? Do you have a goal for independence and you need to figure out how to meet it? Do you already know of technology that could help you gain independence--or even income--but you don't know how to finance it?

This is for you!

This video offers a brief introduction to the Assistive Technology Lab, the CReATE reutilization program (at 19:09) and loans available through the Utah Assitive Technology Foundation (at 36:31).