Thursday, September 7, 2017

Save the date: basic wheelchair maintenance & repair webinar

photo of Tom Boman
Tom Boman
When you spend your whole workday refurbishing wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility equipment, you know a thing or two about their repair and maintenance. In October, CReATE coordinator Tom Boman will share his knowledge in a free webinar, covering topics like battery maintenance, joystick repair and keeping those wheels turning properly.

The event takes place October 23 at 10:30 am. It will be posted later on our YouTube channel.

If you have a question for Tom, or if you'd like to sign up, email utahatp[at] We'll add you to our list!

Photo of many wheelchairs in CReATE warehouse
The CReATE warehouse is full of examples of Tom's repair and refurbishment skills.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Coming to a city near you: DIY AT

Professionals and students work together
to build a custom-made seat for a young
child with disabilities.

Training program brings low-tech assistive technology techniques to communities in rural Utah

Earlier this year, Logan AT Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen participated in an event that inspired us all. He teamed up with CPD occupational therapist Amy Henningsen to help people from different backgrounds make assistive technology--and their creations addressed specific needs of people from the community.

Building on that idea, the Utah Assistive Technology Program at Utah State University will begin teaching low-tech assistive technology methods to students, teachers, parents, and professionals in rural Utah, thanks to a grant funded by the Center for Persons with Disabilities's Interagency Outreach and Training Initiative. These workshops will address an identified need of a person in the community, and local students and professionals will have the chance to participate in a hands-on exercise to design and build a low-tech device.

Some examples of devices that could be built:

  • A custom-made chair that helps a child with low muscle tone sit upright and in the correct position;
  • An iPad holder that allows a person with limited motor skills to access an iPad independently;
  • A device that helps a person with limited mobility get in and out of bed safely.

Want us to come to your town? Contact Alma Burgess. Let's build something!

Monday, August 14, 2017

CReATE celebrates brighter days

The CReATE warehouse brightened up this summer, thanks to a grant from the Gibney Family Foundation to improve its lighting system.

photo of a dingy shop
photo of a brighter shop
This well-lit shop will help CReATE employees and volunteers in their mission to bring affordable mobility equipment to Utahns who need it. And if they drop a tool along the way, they may be finding it faster!

Thanks, Gibney Family Foundation! Things are looking brighter already.

For a look at the work CReATE does--and how they do it--watch this video.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Logan, Uintah Basin AT labs have both beefed up their demonstration libraries

From the CPD blog.

Clay Christensen displays modular hose and an electronic, voice-activated personal assistant. Both are examples of high-
and low-tech AT available in the Utah Assistive Technology Program's demonstration libraries. 
People at the CPD's AT Labs hear it all the time: disability can be expensive.

They want to help. The Utah Assitive Technology Program's AT labs, which are part of  the Center for Persons with Disabilities, offer a demonstration library, stocked with items that people can try before they buy. This saves families the expense of buying item after item and discovering it doesn't quite fit the need.

The demonstration libraries in Logan and the Uintah Basin now have some now, hot technology, including Liftware utensils for people with tremors or contractured hands; voice-activated, electronic personal assistants (Chrome and Alexa), iPads loaded with apps for all kinds of disabilities, and much more.

Here's a more complete look at AT available for Utahns to try at both AT Labs:

Demonstration library inventory

Most items can be “checked out,” and all can be demonstrated at the AT Labs in Logan and Roosevelt. For more information contact Clay Christensen (Logan) or Cameron Cressall (Roosevelt).


Augmentative and alternative communication software for both Apple and personal computers, including Boardmaker
iPads loaded with AT apps (Augmentative and alternative communication, reading and comprehension aids, specialized apps for people with vision, hearing or motor loss)
Liftware eating utensils
Mobility devices
Programs and assistive devices for people who have difficulties using a mouse or keyboard, including JAWS and  Dragon
Smart pens
Vehicle adaptions
Voice-activated electronic assistants (Alexa and Chrome)



Adapted eating utensils & a feeding kit; includes custom-made, adapted silverware
Daily living aids
Mobility devices
Modular hose (used for mounting devices, Logan lab only)
Custom-made AT (can also be made on request, usually for the cost of materials)

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."