The Adaptive Experience

By: Anna Tuckett

When it comes to adapting recreation for people with disabilities, the sky is truly the limit. To show this is true, Provo Parks and Recreation is having an adaptive fair next week.

On the 27th of this month, UATP/CReATE will be participating in The Adaptive Experience in Provo.

This year we will have an interactive booth where people can learn more about our services. It will also be a great resource for learning ways to adapt recreation for people with disabilities.

The event will be held at the Provo Recreation Center, and in addition to our booth, there will be plenty of fun activities to participate in.

Below is a list of some of the fun things you can get involved in at the event:

-Painting community collages with a paintbrush in your mouth
-Practicing basketball drills in highly adjustable sport wheelchairs
-Testing out adaptive equipment that lets you walk, cycle, and ski without legs
-Play a game of Goal Ball (soccer for people with visual impairments) with the BYU women's soccer team
-Participate in fitness demonstrations including Tai Chi, yoga, and tumbling tots
-Educational workshops that aim to teach parents and community members about working with mild to severe disabilities
-Live entertainment, food, giveaways and crafts

Come check it out and let us know what your favorite activity was on Twitter. Just follow us and include our handle, @utahATprogram, in your tweet.

Friday Feb. 27 6-10 p.m. Engage your sense! Wheelchair basketball, educational workshops, adaptive fitness demos, Kids' focus retention, and much more... Provo Recreation Center 320 W 500 N

CReATE: Reita’s Success Story

By Zach Waxler

Sometimes at CReATE, the lifecycle of a wheelchair is long and interesting. This was the case for Utahn Reita Lee, said program coordinator for CReATE, Tom Boman.

Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment’s (CReATE), part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP), goal is to refurbish and repair mobility equipment for Utahns with disabilities at a low-cost.

In mid-December, Lee was involved in a hit-and-run and needed the wheelchair she has previously received from CReATE repaired. Luckily, Lee was not injured in the accident.

“People that use wheelchairs outdoors are in very real danger of being struck by vehicles,” Boman said. “Since Reita really couldn’t leave home without her chair, we expedited the refurbishing process for her. I believe it was only three days before she got it back.”

Boman said the chair was damaged, but not significant enough to purchase an entire new chair.

“The front frame and footplate were both bent and damaged,” Boman said. “With a little work, we were able to straighten out the bent frame back to its original configuration.”

Boman said Lee anticipated the return of her chair.

Reita Lee in her repaired wheelchair.
Reita Lee in her repaired chair.
“She met me at the door of her house all ‘dolled up’ and was just beaming when she saw the chair,” Boman said. “She gave me a big hug and headed right off to do some volunteer work at her church – before I could even get back to the van and get back to the shop. It was pretty obvious that she was tired of being without her chair.”

Boman said Reita is a great client to work with.

“Reita was a real pleasure to help,” Boman said. “She donated a manual wheelchair and an electric lift to the CReATE program – so she is both a client and a donor.”

For more information about donating equipment to CReATE, contact Tom Boman at (801) 887-9390.

Sometimes it's the little things: low-cost AT

Sometimes it is the small and simple things that help a person with a disability be independent and have a better quality of life.

To make this ideal a reality for Utahns in the St. George area, the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation and the Red Rock Center for Independence have teamed up to make getting low-cost assistive technology possible.

The RRCI team evaluates the AT needs of people with disabilities in their area and if they are unable to afford the needed items or adaptations, they help the individual with a small grant application from UATF. 

One such consumer who has severe arthritis in his back and neck was experiencing some paralysis, as well as - having a heart condition and is in need of knee replacements. His doctor recommended a mattress overlay. The pain associated with getting up and moving is so severe he is confined to a bed for long periods resulting in sores and more pain. But with a grant from UATF he was able to get the mattress overlay and has experienced significant relief from his pain.

A man using the Chattervox device.
A man using the Chattervox.
Another consumer had a ramp in ill repair making the device unsafe. The ramp required welding, but RRCI could not find anyone in the rural area to perform the repair. Finally a welder was located and agreed to the repairs. Through UATF funds, the repairs will be made and the consumer can use the ramp safely.

Unable to speak very loudly and be understood, one consumer contacted RRCI to see if his voice could be amplified. He wanted his wife and others to understand what he says. After getting a UATF grant, he was able to buy a voice amplifier - Chattervox

UATF is proud to work with RRCI to help provide Utahns with disabilities the AT they need to be independent. 

Patty’s Story: The Fight for Speech Augmentative Communication Devices

By Liza Jones
Attorney for the Utah Disability Law Center

In September 2012, the Utah Court of Appeals overturned a state Medicaid policy denying coverage for speech augmentative communication devices (SACDs) to adults over 21.  

Since that ruling, the Disability Law Center (DLC) has been working with speech therapists to let people know that they can now ask for communication devices for adults.  SACDs were made famous by world-renown scientist, Stephen Hawking.
Patty Olguin now has a speech device to communicate with her caregivers.
Patty Olguin

The appeal was originally filed in 2010 by the Disability Law Center on behalf of Patty Olguin and Nicholas Conley, whose requests for SACDs were denied by Utah’s Medicaid agency. 

Olguin was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of eight. After a medical procedure in 2002, she had a stroke and lost the ability to speak clearly. Since then, she has been unable to communicate effectively with the people around her. 

But Patty knows what she wants to say. For a decade, she has relied on nursing staff to guess at what may be causing her to feel pain or discomfort. Choosing the color of a shirt or a picture on a wall may seem small. For Patty, however, it represents the beginning of freedom and independence.

Conley has cerebral palsy. Until the age of 22, the school district provided him with an SACD. After leaving school he lost access to the device. Ever since, he had been unable to communicate his most basic wants and needs. He missed communicating meaningfully with friends and family.

During the appeal, DLC Attorney Robert Denton argued that Medicaid’s policy of denying SACDs to Utahns over 21 should be overturned because it violates the Federal Medicaid Act.

The Court agreed, ruling that Utah Medicaid did not have the discretion to deny SACDs to adults. It also agreed that the policy was not reasonable, and illegally treated people differently. The decision makes it clear that the agency cannot deny adults many of the other services and devices it covers for children.

When DLC staff visited Olguin to tell her she had won, her smile was immediate and overwhelming. Our hope is that all eligible Medicaid clients will get the services and equipment they need. Like Nicholas and Patty, we feel the decision has the potential to be far reaching.

If you receive Medicaid benefits and have been denied a SACD or other assistive technology, please contact the Disability Law Center at 800-662-9080 to learn about the services we can provide to you.

*The Disability Law Center (DLC) is a private, non-profit organization designated by the governor as Utah’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency.  Our mission is to enforce and strengthen laws that protect the opportunities, choices and legal rights of Utahns with disabilities.  Our services are provided free of charge.

Refurbishing a wheelchair for Dillon

One of the joys of working at the Utah Assistive Technology Lab is getting to know clients like Cache Valley 9-year-old Dillon Lundahl. 

The AT Lab has been working with Dillon since he was six, building and modifying a variety of devices for him to use in play, therapy and everyday life.

Six-year-old Dillon using a stand during therapy built at the AT lab.
While Dillon's development is normal for his age, he struggles with mobility and balance. One such device the Lab came up with was a stand Dillon could use during physical therapy to play the Wii Fit. 

This month, Clay refurbished Dillon's power wheelchair and fabricated a basket to attach to the chair so Dillon can carry his school stuff with ease.

Dillon's refurbished power wheelchair complete with awesome Dillon racing sticker.

Clay said, "It is fun to be part of Dillon's life - we get to know people in the community, and we just feel lucky we are the ones getting them the assistive technology they need to continue to live independently."

Cache Valley Volunteer of the Month: Congrats Victor Jewkes

Volunteering at the AT Lab can be an adventure, and to recognize the many hours of hands-on help Victor Jewkes of MedSource has given to the lab, we nominated him for the Cache Valley Volunteer of the Month for January.

The award, given by the Cache Valley Volunteer Center, was presented to Victor today at the Pioneer Valley Lodge. 
He has been a consistent and conscientious volunteer at the Utah Assistive Technology Lab. Using his professional expertise, Victor spends much of his own time fixing and refurbishing assistive technology for residents of Cache Valley. 
Left, Clay Christensen, AT Lab Coordinator; middle, Victor Jewkes of MedSource; right, Cameron Cressall, AT Lab assistant.
Left, Clay Christensen, AT Lab Coordinator;
middle, Victor Jewkes of MedSource;
right, Cameron Cressall, AT Lab assistant.
From mobility equipment to ramps and lifts, Victor goes the extra mile to make sure people with disabilities have the working AT they need, regardless of their ability to afford it. His can-do attitude and a love of serving others makes Victor a great advocate of the AT Lab and people with disabilities.

Victor said, "This means more than you know. I appreciate the honor, and want to recognize the AT Lab for all that it does for people with disabilities."

UATF grant helps 4-year-old get some wheels

Four-year-old Emma received a grant from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation so she could get a power wheel car to give her mobility. The Utah Center for Assistive Technology provided the adaptations to the car. 

By Rebecca Bell
Utah parent of child with special needs

The world of special needs parenting can be a magical one..... 

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to Salt Lake City to the Utah Center for Assistive Technology (UCAT). What an amazing and humbling experience it was. At UCAT they adapt every day items for people with disabilities. 

Emma test driving her new wheels.
Emma test driving her new wheels.
UCAT's Ed Whiting chatting with Emma.
UCAT's Ed Whiting chatting with Emma.
For Emma's 4th birthday, they gave her an adorable VW Beetle power wheels car. It has been adapted with a full support seat and 5 point harness. They re-wired it so that she just has to push a big button on the steering wheel rather than foot pedals. 

It was incredible to watch them work on a toy for four hours at no cost to us [UCAT provides labor for Go Baby Go cars free of charge, and the UATF grant covers the cost of the car]. I seriously had a lump in my throat through most of the visit, and when it was time for her to try it out I could hardly contain myself. 
The UCAT team working on adapting the car.
The UCAT team working on adapting the car.

Play is so important and Emma doesn't have many things that she is able to play with independently. She is absolutely in LOVE with this little car. Thank you for making our little girl's year. You are with out a doubt, all in the right profession.  

Go Baby Go!
Go Baby Go!