Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Three videos on hearing technology now available

UATP's YouTube channel now has three new videos to help Utahns better understand hearing technology: specifically how they compare to/work with hearing aids, what situations they are most helpful in, and how Utahns can try them out and find ways to finance them (more on that below).

They focus on the PockeTalker:

The Contego:

...and neck loops of various types.

For help with financing, visit UATP's financing page. Many of UATP's reduced-interest loans are for hearing aids, and loans and small grants can also help with the purchase of other hearing technology.

UATP has a PockeTalker available for demonstration and loan at the Logan and Uintah Basin locations. For more information in Logan, contact Dan O'Crowley. For more information in the Uintah Basin, contact Cameron Cressall.

The videos were made with the help of the Division of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They also have lending libraries in these two locations:

The Sanderson Community Center
5709 South 1500 West
Taylorsville, UT 84123

Southern Utah Program
1067 E. Tabernacle, Suite 10
St. George, UT 84770

They also have hard of hearing assistants in these counties:

San Juan & Moab
Jamy Bailey  928-369-6952 

Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah
Francy Davis 435-790-1956

Box Elder, Cache and Weber 
Virginia Parker 435-730-5723

Utah County
Andrina Fuller 435-260-9961

Thursday, February 6, 2020

UATP volunteer makes affordable therapeutic trikes a reality

UATP is poised to offer custom-built trikes from the Logan and Uintah Basin locations to Utah families who need them.

UATP thanks the JR Stokes Foundation for supporting the development of this project.

action photo
Crew tries out his bike with UATP Logan coordinator
Dan O'Crowley (behind) and volunteer Mike Stokes (right).
Biking is Crew’s favorite part of physical therapy. “He loves it,” said his mother, Melissa. “For him, it’s playtime.”

But a standard bike—even one with training wheels—wasn’t appropriate for him. Bikes with training wheels teeter, and six-year-old Crew needs more stability. When he rode a bike in therapy sessions, it was on a specialized piece of therapy equipment. 

Melissa looked into getting him one of his own, but sticker shock set in.

“They’re so expensive. That’s not in our budget,” she said.

“For kids that really need support, I don’t know of a trike that costs less than $3000, by the time you get all the parts,” said Shaun Dahle, a physical therapist in Cache County. It’s discouraging for families to spend so much on equipment a child will outgrow all too soon.

He approached Utah Assistive Technology Program volunteer Mike Stokes with the problem more than a year and a half ago. “Shaun mentioned that he’d love to have a less expensive trike made out of PVC. He asked if we thought it was possible,” Stokes said.

“The real drive for me was to create a product that was available to families at a lower cost,” said Dahle. “There are a lot of other costs that these families already have.”

a boy grins from a green PVC bike
Graham tries out a bike that will help him
learn to walk and crawl.
The therapeutic benefits of cycling are significant. It teaches reciprocal movement, Dahle said, which can help children learn to crawl and walk. For some, biking is the only way they can get exercise, and it bothered Dahle that biking activities were limited to physical therapy sessions. “How much more would a child thrive if they could do it at home?” 

Stokes took the project on, working at the UATP lab and in his own garage. “One of the major goals that we set out to do was, we wanted it to be able to be assembled by anyone in the world.” After several months and many prototypes, he settled on a furniture-grade PVC design that UATP can build for $350 ($325 if the bike is black or white).

When the design was final, Stokes and UATP staff made the first two PVC trikes, and they are now with families in Northern Utah. One of them was Crew’s.

“It was amazing to find this,” Melissa said. “I’ve been so excited about it, and he’s been so excited.” Now he can ride bikes with his sister and friends.

“How is it, Crew?” she asked.

His speech is limited, but he gave it two thumbs up. 

Brandy White, who is from Cache County, is looking forward to the difference the bike will make for her son, Graham. “It’s going to help train his brain on muscle memory, how to work his muscles and how to use them,” she said.

She expects the equipment will help the two-and-a-half-year-old boy learn to walk and crawl. “He loves riding his bike,” she said.

Does your family's tot (50 lbs and under) need a therapeutic trike? UATP is now ready to build more of them for other families who need them. They are offered for the cost of materials ($325 for white or black, $350 for color). The time to build them is provided by UATP staff, volunteers and students at no cost. For more information, contact Dan O’Crowley in Logan and Cameron Cressall in the Uintah Basin.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Winter’s here! Let's prevent the fall.

trees covered in snow
We hear it again and again—snow and ice complicate the lives of people with limited mobility. If you worry about falling in Utah, here are options to help.

In the home

If you need ideas for creating a safe environment, consider visiting the Smart Apartment in the Sorenson Legacy Foundation Center for Clinical Excellence on Utah State University’s Logan campus. This space features high- and low-tech solutions that can work together, but that do not require a remodel or rewiring of the home.

adjustable shower head
Items in the Smart Apartment that could help with fall prevention include a roll-in shower with a shower chair, a shower head that can be fixed and adjusted for height, grab bars, a lift chair and pull-down shelving. A complete list of smart apartment items on display is available on the Utah Assistive Technology Program website. For a tour, contact Dan O’Crowley.

Dan can also show you the MyNotifi device, available in our demonstration and loan library. This wearable technology detects falls and recommends exercises that help prevent falling.

Other resources in Utah include the state’s independent living centers, which are non-residential programs that offer services to people with disabilities. To find the one nearest you, visit their network website.

Need help affording an assistive device? 

UATP offers small grants up to $400 to people at 150 percent of the US poverty guidelines and below. We also offer reduced-interest loans without income restrictions for the purchase of AT. More information is on our website.

Home modifications

Sometimes a more permanent change is needed to make a home safer. UATP has aided in the purchase of outdoor stair rails and has financed many other home modifications. More information is on our website.

Neighborhood Housing Solutions also offers financing options to help with modifications to homes in Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties. Options vary by location and the type of modification. Find out more on their website.

We transferred a power chair to Sandy Johnson from our
Salt Lake City location. Now she volunteers there to help
with the refurbishing of chairs for other UATP clients.

Mobility aids

Our demonstration and loan libraries in Logan and the Uintah Basin have a variety of canes, crutches, wheelchairs and scooters. These can be demonstrated or loaned for a short-term need. 

In addition, UATP has an inventory of donated wheelchairs and scooters that can be refurbished and transferred to people who need them. Fees may apply, but they are nearly always lower than an insurance deductible. This service is offered in our Salt Lake City, Logan and Uintah Basin locations.

Know of other options in Utah? Leave us a comment. 

Be safe and stay warm!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Eating and writing made easier, thanks to UATP

Sharon poses with her customized tray
Sharon Ross
BRIGHAM CITY—Sharon Ross needed a way to eat and write from her wheelchair. So she bought a $300 shelf that attached to her chair—and found it still didn’t work for her. 

“Signing papers, that was a battle,” she said. If she wanted to write, she didn’t have much room to do it. If she used it to eat, dinner plates hung off the edge. The tray interfered with her arm rest, and it was too far from her body. So she turned to the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Logan for help.

UATP lab techs Brandon Griffin and Ray Emmart worked together on the project. They made a template from cardboard before shaping the final shelf from a big piece of acrylic. The design brought the tray closer to her body, so she’d have more usable space.

They welded a support bracket and designed the tray so it would slide easily on and off.

Their work doubled the usable tray space for Ross, using materials they had on hand. The cost was $40.

“I think it’s perfect for me,” Ross said. “I can drive with it on.” The tray is so stable, it doesn’t rattle.

Need help adapting equipment? UATP has two fabrication labs in Utah, where they can modify assistive technology or build it from the ground up, usually for the cost of materials. Contact Dan O’Crowley in Logan and Cameron Cressall in the Uintah Basin for more information.

The customized tray doubles the usable space for Sharon, at a fraction of the cost. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

UATP, Prime Time 4 Kids work together, customize a little wheelchair

portrait of Westyn in his wheelchair
VERNAL—Westyn Hacking had come to the time in his life where he needed to get up off the floor.

He couldn’t sit up—a condition he has had since birth gives him only minimal control of his core muscles. He is also blind. But like other children his age he likes to be up, near people, interacting with his family.  

The toddler is also growing.

“He’s getting heavy,” said his mother, Shaylee. “That’s 25 or 30 pounds that you’re packing around. … When we go out to eat, he was either being held or we’d get it to go.” 

She worked with Michael Peterson, an occupational therapist with Prime Time for Kids in Vernal. Peterson had some donated equipment from a former employer, Canyon Home Care. One of the donated wheelchairs was small, but it wasn’t quite a perfect fit. 

So Peterson reached out to Cameron Cressall with the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Vernal. Cameron added a sturdier handle, more supportive straps and some sections of pool noodle on the sides to protect Westyn’s head. He brought the foot pedals up higher to fit Westyn’s legs. 

It wasn’t the first project Michael and Cameron have collaborated on. Both said they liked drawing from each other’s expertise. The result was a chair that fit both Westyn’s body and his situation.

Now, when the Harding family goes out to eat, Westyn can be up at the table on his own. “This gives us a little more freedom,” Shaylee said. 

Do you have used equipment to donate? If it fits children age three and younger in the Uintah Basin, Prime Time 4 Kids is happy to take it. And UATP is glad to accept and reuse equipment for all ages and abilities.

To find out more about donating to UATP, visit our reuse page.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Can't hear on the phone? Here are some options for Utahns.

golden, old fashioned phone
Can't hear on the phone? It's time to upgrade!
We at UATP recently interviewed representatives of several services for people who have trouble hearing on the phone. Relay UtahCapTel and CaptionCall. It’s been enlightening for us to learn how many resources are available, and how many of those resources are free. Here’s are some answers to common questions.

What are some captioning options if I’m having trouble hearing people on the phone?

CaptionCall phone
Captioned phones are available at no charge, with no income restrictions, to people who qualify. Clients must be certified to need the equipment by an audiologist or hearing professional, but once they have that certification, the phone and the captioning service are both free. 

Providers include CapTel and CaptionCall. Both services have representatives in the state who can help with the installation and trouble-shooting of the equipment.

Relay Utah loans amplified phones, captioned telephones, and mobile accessories at no cost to people who meet the income (200 percent or less of US poverty guidelines) and medical requirements.

Applications are available at Relay Utah.  

CapTel phone
Where can I get a demonstration of phones for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing?

Relay Utah offers two demo centers, one in Salt Lake City and one in St. George. These centers offer a variety of devices and options for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Speech challenged individuals. 

The Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing also has an AT demonstration lab in both Salt Lake City and St. George, where people can find out what options are available not just for using the phone but for other situations. Equipment can be loaned on a short-term basis to people who live in the state of Utah. In addition, the center can bring equipment to demonstrate for those who cannot travel. 

UATP in Logan has phones from both CapTel and Caption Call. UATP in the Uintah Basin has a CapTel phone. These phones are for demonstration only; from there we can refer you to the providers.

Are there any mobile options for captioned phones?

Yes. CaptionCall offers a captioning service that works on an iPad, essentially turning it into a captioned phone. It allows the user to view captions on an iPad via wifi or cellular data. The app is free; the user must provide the iPad.

CapTel offers captioning on mobile devices through a third-party app. 

Relay Utah has a limited pilot program to explore the feasibility of using wireless devices to address telecommunication needs for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Speech challenged individuals. The devices are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and they are subject to income (200 percent or less of US poverty guidelines) and medical requirements. 

Where do I go for technical support for a captioned phone?

Both CaptionCall and CapTel offer in-home installation and support. Both services offer some troubleshooting on their websites and on the phone.

This information is to help inform Utahns of assistive technology options. UATP does not endorse any one service or technology provider.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Chair modifications come in the nick of time

portrait of Steven in his wheelchair
Steven Bryggman in his modified chair
SALT LAKE CITY—Steven Bryggman has used a wheelchair for nine and a half years, at home and at work at Kroger Stores’ Data Integrity Center. But when his new motorized wheelchair came with some built-in obstacles, it was a real threat to his independence.

The problem was in the chair’s arm rests. He could raise them, but they wouldn’t stay up. If he tightened the screws, they became too tight to move. If he loosened them, they were too loose to hold the arms up. And that made transferring from his new chair to the bed or the toilet or the shower bench just about impossible.

“I live alone. I’m trying to remain as independent as I can,” he said. “I rely on my chair to help me through everything.”

He heard about the services offered at the Utah Center for Assistive Technology, and went there to ask for help. They referred him to Tom Boman at the Utah Assistive Technology Program. Boman is UATP’s Salt Lake City coordinator, and last year his shop refurbished more than two hundred wheelchairs. 

Armed with that experience, Tom looked at Steven’s wheelchair. It’s unusual for UATP in Salt Lake City to do customization work, he said. (UATP in Logan and the Unitah Basin both offer customization services.) The bulk of the work in the shop he coordinates is focused on refurbishing chairs and getting them into the hands of people who need them. Often, it’s easier to supply a refurbished chair to a client, who rolls away with a better, newer model that works.

Still, “If it’s necessary for someone, we’ll give customization a try,” Tom said. And in Steven’s case, the customization was clearly needed. Steven still had years to wait until his insurance would pay for another chair, and the one he had wasn’t working. He’d held onto his former chair, too, but it was more than seven years old. It was developing problems. 

Tom took on the challenge and delved into the parts inventory at the warehouse. “We happened to have two linear actuators that were the right size,” he said. “Not only does it have to extend to the right length, but it has to retract.”

He used the actuators to modify Steven’s wheelchair so its arms were motorized, activated by a switch. They would go up and stay up until the switch put them down again.

The changes made it possible for Steven to transfer from his wheelchair again. And the modifications were completed just as Steven’s old chair broke down.

“What a godsend,” he said. “It happened at the last moment.”

Tom and Steven plan to have his old chair refurbished there as well, so he will have a reliable back-up.

“He’s a great guy,” Tom said. “He was gracious, and very patient.”

“What these guys do is incredible,” Steven said. “I have a new chair that’s reliable. I still have my independence.”

To find out more about how UATP reuses and customizes equipment, visit our website.

Want to get involved?

UATP in Salt Lake City transfers donated and refurbished chairs to people for an affordable fee—usually less than an insurance deductible. It does not matter whether a client is insured, but the work depends heavily on volunteers. 

The Salt Lake City location is looking for more people to help them supply affordable chairs to those who need them. More volunteers would mean fewer people on the waiting list. If you are a person who likes to tinker, who is able to come into the shop on a regular basis, we’d love to hear from you! For more information, contact Tom Boman.