Friday, June 17, 2016

Interdisciplinary disability program now available in the Uintah Basin

an IDASL student works on a wheelchair for client Gordon Richins
An IDASL student works on a wheelchair
for client Gordon Richins.
The IDASL program has trained students on addressing disability issues since 2001. Starting in Fall 2016, it will be an option for Utah State University students in the Uintah Basin.

The IDASL (Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning) class is a two-semester, one- to three-credit course available to juniors, seniors and graduate students of all disciplines. Its purpose is to help people from all academic fields work together to find solutions to disability-related issues. The number of credits available depends on the student’s level of involvement.

Cameron Cressall, an alumnus of the program who is now the Assistive Technology Lab coordinator in Roosevelt, took the class when he returned to school after years in construction work and furniture building.

“Of all the classes I’ve taken at USU, that one class had more impact, hands down, than any other,” he said. “It led me to what I do today.” It made his work experience in building relevant in his chosen field: Social work. (As the lab coordinator, Cressall helps people meet their goals for independence by using technology to move, eat or enjoy a favorite activity.)

His lab experience also provided him with a career option that felt right. “I’m building, creating, doing fun stuff and making people happy.  … It’s not hard to be passionate about my job.”
Cressall worked in the AT lab as part of the service learning the IDASL program requires of all its students. Now, the lab he leads will provide similar opportunities to students in a whole new part of the state. Other service learning options in the Uintah Basin are pending.

In addition to service learning experiences, the class requires its students to attend seminars and presentations where they learn about disability in a collaborative, solution-focused approach.
Stipends are available for long-term trainees. For more information, contact Alma Burgess, the project coordinator.

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