Wednesday, September 11, 2019

UATP inducts some new members into the 200 Club


 
devices grouped on a table
Pictured: the C-Pen reader, iRobot Roomba,
Liftware, My Notifi and Victor Reader Stream
We hear it again and again: disability is expensive.

So UATP is adding items to its demonstration and loan libraries in Logan and the Uintah Basin. Our hope is that people try a device and see if it works for them before they buy it. 

This summer, several items were inducted into not only the libraries, but the more exclusive 200 Club (that’s a group of devices that cost around $200 or more). They are available at both the Logan and Uintah Basin locations. To borrow an item from UATP in Logan, contact Dan O’Crowley. To borrow one from the Uintah Basin, contact Cameron Cressall. For a comprehensive look at our demonstration and loan library inventory, visit our website.

Here’s a look at the devices, what they do and how they might help. (None of the information below is intended as an endorsement—just information that might help in your assistive technology decisions.)

C-Pen Reader

This device can scan single words and define them, or scan whole lines and read them aloud. Useful for people with learning disabilities and reluctant readers. The Codpast offers a video review so you can see it in action.

iRobot Roomba 690 autonomous vacuum

We added this item after talking to professionals who serve seniors, who told us vacuuming can be a source of strain and injury to sensitive backs. This model will work with Alexa. 

Liftware silverware

These specialized silverware items have been in our libraries for a couple of years now. They come in two varieties. One, the Liftware Level, keeps the spoon or fork level for people with contractured hands (see this video review from Spashionista). The other, the Liftware Steady, helps counteract hand tremors. UATP did a quick introduction of both devices in 2017. 

My Notifi fall detection*

Worn like a watch, this system sends out a notification if it detects a fall. It also suggests exercises that can build strength and help prevent falls. KSAT 12 offers a video review.

Victor Readerstream

This pocket-sized device will access Library for the Blind materials, as well as DAISY books, MP3, MP4 and EPUB files. It is a pocket-sized device with large, high contrast buttons. To find out more, watch a video introduction on the Statewide Vision Resource Centre’s YouTube channel.

*A version of this system costs less than $200. 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Magna woman rolling again, thanks to UATP and friends

Karon poses on her wheelchair,  holding up a soft drink refill she got on her own.
Karon Duckworth loves the independence that comes
with her new wheels.

Three agencies worked together for a quick solution

MAGNA--Karon Duckworth was going home on the bus one day when cars were parked in the bus’s unloading zone. The driver let her off at a different spot; one that required Carol to motor in her wheelchair through some rough ground.
 “My chair got stuck and it bottomed out trying to get through the grass,” she said. The bus driver tried to help, but by the time she got back to the pavement, her chair was scraped up and it barely moved. Over the next 35 minutes, she crawled past five businesses.
 She enlisted her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend to help out. “During that time it was flipping gears. It would speed up and go really really fast and then it would just stop.” They eventually manhandled the chair into her house. “There was no way I was going back outside with it,” she said.
 Duckworth's story has a happy ending. She came in contact with the Utah Transit Authority’s ADA Compliance Officer, Cherissa Alldredge. Alldredge knew that a non-functioning chair is a serious thing--and that patrons, especially wheelchair patrons--should only be let off at an official stop. “I immediately suggested she contact our claims department to file a claim,” she said.
 Alldredge then discovered that Duckworth knew Tom Boman, the Utah Assistive Technology Program’s Salt Lake City Coordinator. In fact, the chair Duckworth had been driving was from UATP. They talked about getting her a loaner chair from UATP while her broken chair was repaired.
 Then Duckworth found out a chair was ready for her right away.
 “And I said, ‘What? You mean a loaner, right?" Duckworth said. "And they (Boman) said no, we have a chair for you.”
 The new-to-her replacement chair came through UATP in Salt Lake City, though the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation. Sharry Jolley, a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Richfield, knew its history.
 “It was returned to us by a client,” she said. He couldn’t use it because he needed a head rest, and that chair didn’t have one. So he found a different wheelchair that would work for him at UATP in SLC, and returned the one that didn’t work to the Richfield Office.
 The Richfield office donated the client’s chair to UATP, and Boman knew it would be a perfect fit for Karon. UATP’s service fee was covered by UTA, so Duckworth didn’t have to pay for her new wheels. She was rolling again. Her old chair went back to UATP to be scrapped for working parts. And the new-to-her chair is better than her old one was, pre-incident.
 “It’s a little bit newer than I had,” Duckworth said. “I took it out and on the bus, and it was so easy to get on the bus with it and I went up hills with it… It’s the difference between night and day.”
 The new wheels mean she can continue going where she needs to go on the bus, shop, attend appointments or roll down the street for a drink refill.
 “The silver lining in this is that the new device is better than the old one she used to have,” Alldredge said.
 It is also the result of three agencies working together for a fast solution. 

“I’m so independent in it. I feel like a movie star," Duckworth said.

If there's a moral to the story, it's this.

Automobile drivers, please don’t park in a bus unloading zone. UTA drivers are trained not to drop clients—especially those who use a wheelchair—off at a place other than the official bus stop, Alldredge said. It should not have happened. But now and again, automobile drivers park in a loading zone, and that causes problems.
 “We are working on painting the curbs red,” she said. But since UTA doesn’t own the right-of-way, the process is complicated and piecemeal.
 So please, motorists, park courteously.