Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feedback needed on proposed funding change for AAC devices & power wheelchair accessories

From ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association):

ATIA wants your story!
Dear AT Community,

We would like to make you aware that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed changes in how Medicare pays for speech generating devices (SGDs)(AAC devices) and power wheelchair accessories, such as custom seats and tilt-recline systems. Specifically, CMS is proposing to move SGDs and wheelchair accessories from the routinely purchased payment category to the capped rental payment category requiring that patients rent these devices as opposed to purchasing them. 

Here's a message from the ALS Foundation:

"Currently, most all SGD's and wheelchair accessories used by people with ALS are purchased by patients, with Medicare covering 80% of the costs.  Under a capped rental system, patients are required to rent these items over a 13 month period, after which time the patient owns the equipment. Medicare pays 80% of the rental fee each month.  If the patient passes away or no longer needs the equipment at any time during the rental period, the equipment is returned to the supplier. The ALS Association's concerns include:
• Access: If a patient is institutionalized (extended hospital stay, hospice, nursing home) during the 13 month rental period, Medicare coverage for this equipment will cease. Potentially, this means that a supplier of an SGD or wheelchair accessory can require that the equipment be returned, leaving patients without access to needed equipment.  By contrast, under the current system patients may keep this equipment when they are institutionalized as long as they own the equipment.
• Cost: If a patient rents an SGD or wheelchair accessory for the full 13 month period, they will pay 5% more out of pocket than if they purchased the equipment up front. 
• Quality: Both SGDs and power wheelchairs are highly customized in order to meet the specific medical needs of individual people with ALS. When they are returned to a supplier, they cannot simply be supplied to the next patient. They must be readjusted and customized to fit the needs of the next patient.  Therefore, under capped rental, suppliers do not have the same incentives to work with people with ALS or to fully customize these devices knowing that they may be returned to them."

Your Voice Counts! We should all be concerned that the needs of people who use SGDs (AAC) are addressed in the final policy. Voice your concern to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to let them know how this threatens the quality of life of so many Americans. 

How can you make your voice heard? Write letters or comments and encourage others to write. Here are some examples of what to say:

1. Provide information on how important on-going, consistent, long-term access and use of SGDs are to your clients and customers. Provide specific examples and success stories.

2. Write about a family member, friend, or associate who would not be able to meet their daily communication needs without a SGD. Provide specific examples of how lack of a device interferes with getting daily needs met, intra-family communication, work-based, income earning activities, parenting, getting medical care, education, etc.

Be sure to emphasize that a person's need for a SGD is often permanent and life-long, not temporary.

Comments on this proposed policy change are due no later than 5PM EST, August 30, 2013. Comments must be submitted with the following index code:  CMS-1526-P.
Submit your comments to:
1. Follow the ''Submit a comment'' instructions.

2. By regular mail to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-1526-P, P.O. Box 8010, Baltimore, MD 21244-8010.

To quote Lewis Golinker, Esq., "Of Medicare's 45 million beneficiaries, and billions of dollars of costs, picking on the 2700 or so people with the most severe communication impairments as a source of a few dollars in cost savings at the expense of their health, dignity and person-hood, seems an extremely poor choice." 

If you'd like to share your comments with us email them to  with the subject line: CMS Changes.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Options for Independence youth activities

Options for Independence of Logan is offering activities and learning experience for youth with disabilities. 

September 5th - Cooking class at Macey's little theatre at 6:00 p.m. Learn kitchen safety and cook a dish. The class is an hour long and is free of charge.

September 11th - Matinee performance of the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, at the Eccles Theatre at 11:00 p.m.  We will meet at the Eccles at 10:30 p.m. There is room for a guest if you would like to invite one. The performance is free.

September 17th - Rock Climbing at  the Rock Haus with Common Ground at 4:00 p.m. Cost is $5.
Join Options for a youth activity
at the Logan Rock Haus.

October 8th - Finance Management class and treats from 4-6 p.m. at Options for Independence.

Please call 753-5353 or email to reserve your spot.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First blind man to drive motorcycle on Bonneville Salt Flats

National Federation of the Blind Sponsors Blind Driver's "Quest for the Salt": Dan Parker Will Be First Blind Man to Drive Motorcycle on Bonneville Salt Flats

Wendover, Utah: The National Federation of the Blind announced its sponsorship of the first attempt by a blind driver to independently race a motorcycle on the famed Bonneville Salt Flats. Dan Parker, an experienced race car builder and driver who lost his sight as the result of a racing accident last year, will independently operate a three-wheeled motorcycle with the help of a GPS system that gives him audible cues in order to help him maintain a straight course. 
The National Federation of the Blind is
helping sponsor Dan Paker's 'Quest for the Salt.'

Mr. Parker will make his run as part of the 2013 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials this Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Flats. The National Federation of the Blind is one of several sponsors contributing funds and equipment to help Parker complete his "Quest for the Salt."  Additionally, the Federation's Mark Riccobono, the first blind person to drive a vehicle without the assistance of a sighted person, will travel out to the Salt to participate in this historic event.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "We have demonstrated that it is possible for a blind person to operate a vehicle with the help of an interface that can convey information about the driver's environment.  Dan Parker is taking the concepts that we pioneered with our Blind Driver Challenge a step further - and possibly faster - while continuing to experiment with technology that may someday allow blind drivers to navigate America's roadways like our sighted peers."

Parker said, "As a member, I appreciate the support of the National Federation of the Blind, an organization that believes, as I do, that blind people can succeed in whatever effort we choose with the proper tools and training. I look forward to demonstrating this truth to the racing community and the general public on the Salt Flats this weekend. I view this run as just the first leg of my journey to contribute to the work of the Federation and its Blind Driver Challenge."

More information about the NFB Blind Driver Challenge, along with information about Dan Parker's Quest for the Salt, is available at Also be sure to visit Dan Parker's Quest for the Salt Facebook page. For continuous updates on this exciting event, visit NFB's Facebook and Twitter.  


Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Monday, August 19, 2013

CReATE gets new technician

About a year ago, Tom Boman started experiencing vertigo when sitting at a ninety-degree angle, making his office job as a safety engineer nearly impossible. 
New CReATE technician, Tom Boman,
refurbishing a wheelchair.

He later learned he had Vestibular neuronitis from nerve damage in his ear. Boman embarked on a new career journey, and ended up at the Utah Assistive Technology Lab. 

Boman said, "I had an office job for over 12 years. I wouldn't have otherwise encountered assistive technology - this has ended up being an opportunity."

After getting his feet wet in AT, Boman applied for the new technician position at CReATE (Citizen's Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment). CReATE is an initiative of UATP to help Utahn's with disabilities get low-cost mobility equipment. The program takes in donated mobility devices and refurbishes and sanitizes them - Boman's new job.

"It's great to be part of the potential at CReATE, and to help people," Boman said. "I'd eventually like to get into other AT as well."

He is working on receiving his ATP (Assistive Technology Professional) certification from RESNA. This will enable him to evaluate individuals for wheelchairs, among other skills. 

Some of the devices in the CReATE inventory.

The short-term goal, Boman said, is to increase the amount of devices in the refurbished inventory so the amount of devices getting out can be doubled. He is also making more space for donations. 

"I want people to have lots of options to choose from when they come in," Boman said.

Boman is available at, and works at CReATE Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Faye Hauser is the office coordinator and can be reached at 801-887-9398 from Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  
The CReATE team, Faye, Tom
& Alma showing their pride!

"Working for UATP has put into perspective the disability I deal with; there are people who have things that are a lot harder," Boman said. "This helps makes my struggles seem insignificant, and I enjoy being able to do the things I can to contribute."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wheelchair Race Fundraiser!

Come race or enjoy spectator seating at this community fundraising event, the RAPID TRANSIT WHEELCHAIR RACE 2 is for all ages, people with or without disabilities. Funds raised go to Logan's Options for Independence, the local MS Society chapter, and other disability causes. This event is also meant to bring awareness and interaction of able and disabled, old and young members of our community.

Click to see a larger version
of the event poster.

Many races are available like manual wheelchairs, power chairs and teams of passenger/driver. Prizes for winners, and door prizes too! Call Dreena at Rapid Transit to register, or 435-752-6469. Wheelchairs are available by the Utah Assistive Technology Program for those who don’t have one. Learn more at

When: Saturday, Aug. 17
Time: 1 to 3 p.m.
Where: Logan Rec Center, 195 S. 100 W. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Heat is blazing, and so is UATP!

   Even though the summer heat is blazing, UATP has been busy! Here are some highlights from July:
  • CReATE (Citizen’s Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment) transferred 11 refurbished mobility devices to Utahans with disabilities in the month of July.
    CReATE technician, Tom Boman,
    works on refurbishing a wheelchair.

  • The Utah Assistive Technology Foundation approved 9 loans for the month of July for Utahans with disabilities to purchase assistive technology.

  • The Assistive Technology Lab has been working on a special project: an adapted saddle for Mike, a 13-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy. Mike has bonded with his step-mother’s horse, and it helps him use muscles in new ways. It has proved to be a good source of therapy for him, both physically and mentally.  The Lab will build a back onto the saddle to support Mike and hold in place. Watch for more on this story!