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Customized rolling seat spares family from injury

Photo of Norma
Norma shows of the new rolling seat from outside the
Assistive Technology Lab in Logan.
What do you get when you combine a tiny bathroom, two conscientious parents and growing young man with multiple disabilities who uses a wheelchair?

Unfortunately for the Martinez family, it was an injury waiting to happen. It was important for them to bathe their son daily, but getting him in and out of the small bathroom space was dangerous for them and for him. Norma Martinez said they tried chairs designed for the bath for her son Gabe, but they were still unable to make it work for him in the space that they had. So they turned to the Assistive Technology Lab on the Logan Utah State University campus for a customized solution.

photo of Dan in the lab
AT Lab employee Dan O'Crowley puts on the finishing touches.

The AT Lab specialists designed a rolling seat that could be used to transport Gabe down the hall to a larger room with a Hoyer lift--a piece of equipment that lifts people into wheelchairs. They use towels to lift him out of the tub--an arrangement that spares them back strain.

"The chair worked out great," she said after giving it a test run. "We have more ideas to make it even better."

That's what the AT Lab does: find customized solutions for people with disabilities--usually for the cost of materials. You can find out more on the Utah Assistive Technology Program website. UATP is part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

UATP welcomes new staff member to CReATE

The Utah Assistive Technology Program welcomes Caroly Hulinsky to CReATE in Salt Lake City. (Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment is UATP's reutilization program; we take used and donated mobility equipment, refurbish it and transfer it at a low cost into the hands of people who need it.)

photo of Carolyn
Carolyn Hulinsky
Here is a quick Q & A with Carolyn.

Q: What do you do at CReATE?

A: I have a variety of tasks and don't do the same thing every day. I am responsible for maintaining the database by processing all of the transfers and purchases. I do any other office work that may be needed. I also schedule for delivery and pickup of chairs.

I am also very busy organizing, sorting and counting all of our inventory and entering it into the database. I am working to take the administrative work over from [CReATE Coordinator] Tom Boman so that he can have the time to work on and turn out more chairs. In time I will also begin to learn how to refurbish a chair... I feel like there is so much I can do and I want to learn.

I like working here at CReATE. I think it is so important to help individuals regain their mobility and facilitate their independence. I also think the volunteers and Tom are so fun to hand around as we work.

Q: How did you hear about CReATE?

A: I am a teacher in the morning, and I am co-teachers with Tom's wife. She told me about Tom and what he does. She later mentioned he was hiring someone to work in the office and help out with various things in the shop. It sounded like a really worthy place to work. I like helping others.

Do you have a background in disability?

I have a friend that has some experiences with disabling injury. My friend Chris Santacose is a paraglider. He had a traumatic injury that required him to do rehabilitation for a year before he was able to walk again. As a result he created project airtime.

I do have some background working with an individual with a disability. My sister-in-law had a major stroke when she was 35. I cared for her in my home for two years. I am still her guardian.

Carolyn, thanks for your time, and welcome to UTAP!

Modified walker helps boy interact with his family

photo of Aaron

Meet Aaron. He has a ready smile and a love of light and sound, but he was also born with a condition that gave him low muscle tone. He spent a lot of time on the floor until a walker brought him closer to the level of his family.

"I bought it with the intention of hoping it would help him learn to walk, to help him with his core strength and give him another option besides lying on the floor," said his mother, Kimberly. The walker, which was a simple purchase from Amazon, was a great improvement--it helped him interact more with his family and he soon learned how to work its bells and whistles. Aaron also progressed from needing to be propped up with towels to sitting by himself in the walker.

He enjoyed it, but as time went on, Aaron kept growing. He is now two and a half. His legs were so long, it was like he was sitting on the floor with his knees bent.

photo of larger walker wheelHe is not walking yet. He and a physical therapist from the Center for Persons with Disabilities are working on it, and they've made a lot of progress, but meanwhile he needed some modifications to keep himself upright.

His mother, Kimberly, went to the Up to 3 program for help--and Up to 3 turned to Assistive Technology Lab in Logan. (Up to 3 and the AT Lab are both part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.) The people at the AT Lab attached a wooden mount and some tall, after-market wheels to the walker, adding inches to its height. With the help of his modified walker, Aaron was standing again.

He looks happy in his walker, and Kimberly looks happy watching him in it. "He can move around," she said. "He's not strapped to a chair."

Aaron in his walker

Logan AT Lab welcomes new employee

Photo of Dan
Dan O'Crowley
Dan O'Crowley is the newest addition to the Assistive Technology Lab family. It's good news for the Logan lab--which has been remarkably busy--and for Dan, who is working toward a career in prosthetics.

"Growing up I've always loved engineering," he said. He nurtured his own interest in inventing and problem-solving throughout high school and has since gravitated toward prosthetics--a field that will require him to earn a master's degree.

In the meantime his working on a bachelor's degree in biology at Utah State University, and working part-time at the AT Lab. He learned about the lab from his wife Marcy, who did work there as part of her special education coursework.

"When I got married and I started school here, she said, 'Dan, you should go volunteer at this place I know.'"

She knew of his love of tinkering. He was a mechanic for a summer with his brother. He built a wooden fridge--patterned after an old-fashioned ice box--for his dad in wood shop during high school. And when his parents decided to build a house while he was in high school, he drew up the blueprints.

"That was a big learning curve," he said.

Marcy was right when she introduced him to the lab--he enjoyed it. After volunteering for a semester, he received an invitation from lab coordinator Clay Christensen to work there part-time. Now he is there, helping the lab handle an ever-growing workload.

Welcome, Dan!

Great information on the USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab, in 1 minute

Thanks to help from KLCY's Aggie Report in the Uintah Basin, we offer this quick look at the new Utah State University-Uintah Basin Assistive Technology Lab in Roosevelt. Come see us if you're in the neighborhood!

A guide to accessible voting in Utah

photo of woman holding "vote" signs
By Nate Crippes
Staff attorney, Disability Law Center

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

Voting is an immensely important act.  Democracy relies on each and every citizen using their vote as their voice.  Since democracy relies on every citizen, it is also very important that every citizen have access to the polls.  Thankfully, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) did a lot to ensure that polling places meet the needs of everyone. 

However, because voting is also an incredibly personal act, access alone is not enough.  HAVA says that each person must be able to vote as privately and independently as any other person.  That is why HAVA requires each polling place to have an immensely important piece of assistive technology, an accessible voting machine.

Now, some of you may have already received a notice about voting by mail this election season.  At this time, 21 of Utah’s 29 counties have moved to vote by mail this year.  So what does this mean for those who may require an accessible voting machine to vote independently and privately? 

The counties that have moved to vote by mail usually have a few polling places available on Election Day.  Contact your county clerk for more information on this.

If you happen to live in a county that does traditional voting rather than vote by mail, you will also have the option to vote early at some polling locations.  These locations will also have an accessible voting machine.  For more information on early voting contact your county clerk’s office. 

If you need help finding your polling place, go to

If you experience any problems with voting on Election Day, whether by mail or traditional means, the Disability Law Center (DLC) will have a voting hotline, (800) 662-9080, to answer your questions while polls are open. 

In addition, if you have any questions or concerns about voting prior to Election Day, please do not hesitate to contact the DLC at the same number or at

Volunteers help make our world go 'round

Photo of a missionary working on a wheelchair battery

Utahns, are you looking for a place to serve? We have three!

The Utah Assistive Technology Program has long taken pride in its volunteers, who have helped us serve Utahns with disabilities for years. We have enjoyed the help of people who have retired but not stopped working; of students and community members; and, most recently, LDS missionaries fulfilling a service requirement.

AT Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen has two messages for those who donate their time to the AT Labs or CReATE: Thank you. And please don't stop.

Lately Christensen has been swamped with wheelchair maintenance requests--perhaps because insurance doesn't always cover the need, maybe because it's hard for patrons to find someone who can do it. He is grateful for the volunteers who help him keep up with the demand while still tending to other aspects of the AT Lab mission: demonstration, training, research and the development of prototype devices that help people with disabilities become more independent.

"It makes a huge difference," he said while two missionaries worked on moving and disassembling wheelchairs. "The labor these guys did today would've taken me five hours." (The two missionaries worked there for two hours that day.)

"It's fun," said Elder Weston, who has been coming twice a week. "It's hands-on, I get to tear things apart, and I help people change their lives."

"It's good to stay busy, and know something good's going to come out of it," said Elder Weston, who worked in the lab at the same time.

They are examples of what CReATE Program Coordinator Tom Boman said is ideal volunteers, because they come in on a regular basis. Boman, too, has benefited from volunteer help, which has eased the demands on his time. The program, based in Salt Lake City, refurbishes used mobility devices and transfers them to people who need them at an affordable cost. CReATE now transfers more than twice the number of devices as it did in 2014.

Volunteers help Boman keep up with the demand and deliver record numbers of mobility devices into the hands of people who need them. CReATE has enjoyed 30 to 50 hours per week of donated time in recent months, but Boman said they could always use more. "Volunteers who are willing to come in on a regular basis can really help us out," he said.

The new AT Lab at USU-Uintah Basin in Roosevelt is already feeling a similar pinch: lots of donated devices that could use some tweaking, lots of need, and not enough hours in a day. Lab Coordinator Cameron Cressall said volunteers would be welcome.

To find out more about volunteering with UATP, contact:

Clay Christensen, Logan Assistive Technology Lab, 435.797.0699
Tom Boman, CReATE, Salt Lake City, 801.877.9398
Cameron Cressall, USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab (Roosevelt) 435.722.1714