Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Have a student with a disability? Six facts you should know about AT in education

The Disability Law Center of Utah's tips for looking at assistive technology in an Individualized Education Plan:

  1. School districts and charter schools are required to
    Have you considered assistive  technology in your child's IEP?
    Have you considered assistive 
    technology in your child's IEP?
    consider the use of assistive technology (AT) for every student receiving special education services. This should not merely be a box that is checked on the individualized education program (IEP); there should be a conversation about possibilities for AT to help your individual child access education. 
  2. An IEP should ensure access to the general education curriculum. If your child needs AT in order to access the same content as the other students, the school is required to provide it.
  3. Even if a student doesn’t need an AT device for academic purposes, the school may be required to provide it in order to help with functional skills, such as communication, mobility, independent living or social skills. Functional skills are also part of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
  4. A child does not necessarily have to receive special education services in order for the school to pay for an AT device. The student may also receive AT under the equal access to public education programs protected in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  5. Sometimes schools are required to allow students to take home AT devices, depending on if it’s necessary for the child to receive a FAPE. For example, if a student needs the device to complete homework assignments, they may be permitted to take the device home.
  6. The Disability Law Center helps advocate for students to receive the AT devices and services they need. Call 1-800-662-9080 or visit us online at for more information. 

This is general information. It is not intended to be legal advice. Only an attorney can give you legal advice to help you with a problem or answer a question.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Archived webinar: Accessibility with the iPad

Did you miss the Accessibility with the iPad webinar on November 9th? Watch it now in our YouTube archives!

Andrew Porter, Utah State University Apple Representative, presented iPad basics and quick user tips, with the main focus on the integrated accessibility features of the iPad as well as some accessibility appsApple products are renowned in the disability community for their 'out-of-the-box' accessibility. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Unusual projects at the AT Lab

The Assistive Technology Lab is no stranger to unusual projects. Since disabilities are very unique to individuals due to many factors, devices often need to be modified to work for the user.
The modified stairlift chair  with an extended headrest.
The modified stairlift chair 
with an extended headrest.

Last week, the AT Lab took on this project for a 13-year-old girl who is six feet tall. She uses a stairlift at home, but the chair she was using didn't have a high enough headrest. This resulted in a few head bumps. 

The solution was an extended headrest that was welded onto the back of the chair.

Clay Christensen, AT Lab Coordinator, said, "It was a tricky project, but it will really make a difference for this individual." 

The adapted headrest will  support the individual's head.
The adapted headrest will
support the individual's head.

Do you have a project for the AT Lab? Call 435-797-0699 ext. 1 to see how we can help!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

American Sign Language volunteer needed for a video project

The Disability Law Center needs a volunteer that is proficient in American Sign Language for a project. 
The Disability Law Center is looking
for a volunteer who knows ASL.

This past year, the DLC represented a father who wanted to be able to have an interpreter at his daughter's school production of "A Little Mermaid."  The school district denied him this service, claiming that they were not obligated to do that for extra curricular activities. They were only willing to provide a seat in the back of the theater with a flashlight and script.

The DLC represented this family and the district's policy was changed. This will impact other families in this district and will hopefully translate to other districts around the state making the same changes.

This story will go into the DLC annual report as well as the website. The Center would like to include a video of the story in ASL.

Sheri Newton of the DLC said, "We want people to understand their rights and communicate our story effectively." 

The DLC is looking for a volunteer who is proficient in ASL that would be willing to be videotaped telling the 300-word story.

Newton can meet the individual at a location convenient to them. The project should be done before the holidays. Interested individuals can call Newton at (435) 232-4269 or email 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cache Valley middle school student surprised with a new power wheelchair from CReATE

Mobility is part of freedom, and yesterday 6th grader Selena Perez got that freedom when she received a power wheelchair. The unfettered joy on her face said it all as she went from a manual wheelchair that was pushed by her aid, to using a joystick powered chair.
Selena Perez in her new power wheelchair.
Selena Perez in her new power wheelchair.

The wheelchair was a surprise for Selena and her family. Her parents thought they were attending a planning meeting with Cache County School District Special Education Director, Joel Allred.

The staff had been looking at other options for Selena, but they realized a new chair would be around $10,000. But after talking with Amy Henningsen, assistive technology specialist and occupational therapist for the Utah Assistive Technology Program of Utah State University, they learned about refurbished mobility devices available.

UATP's non-profit program CReATE ( offers refurbished mobility devices for a small fee to the Utah public. Selena's measurements were taken for a new chair and sent to CReATe. A chair that was perfect for her was found in stock.

The $400 fee for the chair was paid for by the staff at the Cache County School District Office, who have come to love Selena.

ESL coordinator, Kelly James, said they decided instead of doing a gift exchange with each other, they wanted to do something meaningful. 
The Cache County School District staff with Selena.
The Cache County School District staff with Selena.

"We decided that the gifts seemed trivial, and seeing Selena get the chair was amazing," James said. 

Selena's friends, family and school staff watched with tears in their eyes as she was able to zoom around the room. Her reaction at first was a choked 'thank you' of joy.

Read other stories about Selena and her new chair on the USU College of Education blog as well as The Herald Journal.
Selena with her family.
Selena with her family.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Utahns learn about communication devices for people with disabilities

Participants gathered at the AT Lab to check out AAC devices.Communication is key to quality of life, and those who attended the AAC Open House at the Utah Assistive Technology Lab last week learned about how people with disabilities can be successful using devices.
AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) is how many people with various disabilities communicate. Methods range from simple to complex. 

A participant looks at a devices from DynaVox.
Vendors from DynaVox, Enablemart, Prentke Romich, Tobii ATI and Saltillo brought their devices to show consumers. From iPad apps to computer software, the options are endless. 

Speech language pathologist Tobey Fields said it is important for people to know what is available.

"So many times I hear about a senior that is unable to communication and becomes socially isolated, and it makes me sad," Fields said. "It shouldn't happen."

UATP staff talks to Rod Price (center) from the School of the Deaf and Blind.
AAC can benefit many ages and disabilities. To learn more about AAC and speech-related disabilities, visit the Penn State Early Intervention website AAC Kids.