Monday, January 27, 2014

What is Assistive Technology?

What is Assistive Technology and where can you learn more about it? Did you know every state has an assistive technology program? Find out in this cute and informative video from the Pacer Center.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Apps for Communication

UATP partner, the Utah Center for Assistive Technology, welcomed a new employee this month to help with communication and education assistive technology evaluations. 

Starla Blackburn, speech language pathologist, has twenty years helping students under her belt. Learn more about her on the UCAT website

She has recommended these communication apps to UATP. Take a look:

AVAZ - $99.99 - Communication

Avaz was developed in collaboration with 25 schools and 500 children, to help children with autism achieve the most effective communication possible. Avaz is also useful for children with Down Syndrome, Angelman's Syndrome, Aspergers, Apraxia and other non-verbal conditions. Avaz’s user interface is designed to make speech therapy more effective, develop a child’s language, and improve his/her intent to communicate.

Avaz uses picture symbols and high-quality voice synthesis to help users create messages. It comes with 3 research-based, graded picture vocabularies, and a Core Words set that will help a child begin to communicate. These vocabularies have been designed to facilitate spontaneous novel utterance generation, encouraging a child to not only use language, but also generalize from it. 

While Avaz helps a child get started quickly with pictures, it's also great for facilitating easy transition into text. Avaz's keyboard has support for saving and loading text, a Quick response bar for frequently-used messages, and a picture-assisted text prediction capability for sight readers.

Talk Tablet - $79.99 - Communication

TalkTablet is a fully-featured AAC speech/communication solution for people who have difficulty communicating (speaking) as a result of autism, aphasia, Down Syndrome, stroke, laryngectomy or any other condition. 

TalkTablet generates speech output by offering buttons that contain words or phrases, or by using the tablet’s on-screen keyboard. Buttons can contain pictures, text, photographs or any one of the over 11,000+ SymbolStix communication symbols included with this app.

Prizmo - $9.99 – Reading and Writing Access – OCR Scanner and reader

Prizmo is a universal photo-based scanner app that lets you scan and recognize text documents, business cards, and images, and then export them as PDF/Text, vCard, or JPEG/PNG. Prizmo relies on state-of-the-art technologies, like a highly accurate OCR, real-time page detection, and beautiful image cleanup. Using iCloud, you can even shoot the picture on your iPhone, and finish editing on your iPad or Mac. All of this in an elegant and intuitive user experience.

Prizmo is made for everyone, and is thus fully compatible with VoiceOver. It provides voice guidance to help position your iPhone when taking document pictures, and will find the text orientation automatically if it's turned left, right or upside down. Prizmo's quick capture mode provides a fast path from picture to speech synthesis for an improved workflow, and it provides a high-quality voice reader (individual voices available as in-app purchases

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Don't let a lack of web accessibility leave others out

Have you ever tried to navigate the Internet without your eyes, hands or ears? Sounds pretty tough, eh?

Is your website and social media posts accessible?
Web accessibility is critical to people with disabilities to fully participate in society. Making the web accessible to those with visual, hearing and motor control disabilities is law for government websites under the Rehab Act and ADA, and it is just good business.

It is estimated that 20 percent of the population has a disability, so excluding them from participation online would be unwise.

There are many great tools available to learn about and make websites and social media accessible. 

WebAIM offers their WAVE web accessibility tool which evaluates the various features of a website. 

Google Chrome is now offering a variety of extensions for your browser that have accessibility in mind. 

The ATbar is an open-source, cross-browser toolbar to help users customise the way they view and interact with web pages.

Make your social media posts accessible using these tips from

  • Save the service-specific speak for the end (the parts that sound confusing).
  • If possible, avoid using unfamiliar acronyms that would sound strange if read by a screen reader. If space allows, try to spell out the acronyms instead or use a different way to convey the information.
  • Use hashtags at the end of posts.
  • Use "CamelCase" for multiple words for hashtags; that is, capitalize the first letters of compound words (use #SocialGov not #socialgov).
  • Include descriptions of photos and include captions on videos.
Happy web surfing, and remember to keep it accessible!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


January 10, 2014 by Sue Reeves from the CPD Blog

On January 8, a mom called the Red Rock Center for
Tom Boman, CReATE technician, repairs a chair.
Independence in St. George, looking for a loaner wheelchair for her son. The 14-year-old has Down syndrome and other health challenges. His wheelchairs are usually provided by Intermountain Health Care, but the mom does all the customizations, often fabricating armrests and other parts herself. The family has been approved by Shriner’s Hospital for a new chair, but this week, the boy’s backup chair simply fell apart. He needed a loaner for a few weeks while IHC made repairs to the chair.

Red Rock Center has a large loan bank, but not much pediatric equipment, so Martha Hafen, Independent Living Coordinator for youth at the center, posted the following on Facebook:

“We need a little help today! We have gotten a call from a parent that is in desperate need of a pediatric size wheelchair with a 5-point harness that her son could borrow for a few weeks. If anyone knows of a family that may have a child that has outgrown a chair or one that you aren’t using–please either call the Red Rock Center at 435-673-7501 or post here.  Asking around to friends and neighbors would be greatly appreciated!”

The post was passed on to Clay Christensen, AT lab coordinator, and Alma Burgess, program coordinator for Citizens Re-utilizing Assistive Technology Equipment (CReATE) at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. Tom Boman, CReATE’s wheelchair technician, contacted Red Rock Center’s assistive technology specialist Mike Earl, who explained exactly what was needed. Because CReATE maintains such a large inventory of refurbished mobility equipment, Boman was able to quickly locate a suitable loaner.

Within 24 hours of Hafen’s original post, a wheelchair had been found and arrangements had been made to deliver it to the family in St. George.

The mom was “just in tears,” after finding out that her son would be getting the needed equipment, Hafen said.

“One of the best things about the people in the state of Utah is that when there is a need, there is NOTHING that can’t be done,” she posted later on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Meet Your Elected Official Event

Residents of Northern Utah can voice their concerns about disability issues and policy to elected officials at the 'Meet your elected official' event January 22nd. Rep. Rhonda Menlove and Rep. Ed Redd will be attending, with the possibility of other representatives coming. Your input is important to shaping the future of disability policy.

Assistive technology resources for seniors

Did you miss our 'Assistive Technology for Seniors' webinar by Amy Henningsen? Now you can watch it in our archives

Henningsen, occupational therapist and assistive technology specialist for the Center for Persons with Disabilities, presented a variety of assistive technology devices available to seniors to help them maintain their independence. Simple, low-tech products as well as high-tech products are demonstrated in the area of activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as mobility, bathing, dressing, eating, meal preparation, household chores, etc.  

Below is a resource list of AT resources for seniors in Utah. Click the image to enlarge it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Webinar by Utah AT Experts: Assistive technology in the workplace

This free webinar will provide participants with information about assistive technology in the workplace on January 14, 2014 from noon to 1:30 p.m. MST. 
AT Specialist Ken Reid will
present in a webinar Jan. 14.

Everette Bacon (Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired) will provide an overview of assistive technology for individuals who are blind, Mitch Moyers (Sanderson Center) will overview AT for individuals who are Deaf, and Ken Read (Utah Center for Assistive Technology) will provide an overview of AT for Individuals with motor disabilities. 

An ASL interpreter will be available in a dual-screen during the presentation.

You can register now online, or call Tim Riesen with questions 385-646-5570. Please register by January 7th.