Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wheelchair lift design in the running for a da Vinci award

Congratulations to the Utah State University student designers of the wheelchair lift for being nominated for a da Vinci Award.

USU students with the wheelchair lift.
The awards are given by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to help create awareness of the importance of assistive technology and bring more of it to the public.

The daVinci Awards will be
announced on March 10.
The wheelchair lift was designed by USU mechanical engineering students in partnership with the Utah Assistive Technology Program

The idea for the wheelchair lift, demonstrated in this YouTube video, came from UATP's Amy Henningsen who was having trouble lifting her mother's manual wheelchair into the car trunk on shopping trips.

Students James Somers, McKay Pace and Brian Laird designed the project for their Senior Design Class under a grant from the National Science Foundation. The device helps people with disabilities and their families easily put manual wheelchairs into car trunks.

Some unique characteristics about the device:

  • No modifications to the trunk required.
  • Adjustable heights and lengths.
  • Clamp for securing the wheelchair.
  • Ratcheting handle – prevents slipping of chair when not in motion. 
  • Safety guard over the winch.
  • Additional space left in the trunk for other items.
  • Cost effective at approximately $1000. 
  • A utility patent is pending.

Winners of the da Vinci Awards will be announced March 10. For more information on the awards and the ceremony, click the flier below.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Free online webinar: Permobil Wheelchair Tips: Repositioning, Adjustments, & Drive Controls

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training, “Permobil Wheelchair Tips: Repositioning, Adjustments & Drive Controls,” on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. MST.

This free training will be presented by Travis Carlson, a Permobil representative. Permobil has been a leader in the complex rehabilitative power wheelchairs industry for over 45 years. As the world leading manufacturer of powered wheelchairs, Permobil offers a range of wheelchairs for children, young people and adults. Travis will cover independent repositioning, basic adjustments and alternative drive controls of Permobil wheelchairs. 

Travis Carlson is an Assistive Technology Professional specializing in seating and positioning. He worked for a dealer of mobility equipment for 5 years before coming to Permobil. 

In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed Internet access. If you are interested in participating please RSVP by Monday, March 3, to Storee Powell via email storee.powell@usu.edu, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.

If you are a screen reader user please contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or sachin.pavithran@usu.edu, no later than Friday, Feb. 28, to make arrangements to participate via phone. If you need any other accommodations in order to participate in the training please let Sachin know by this date also.

Please feel free to pass on this information to anyone that you think might be interested.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Home sweet home is accessible

As Baby Boomers continue to retire or plan for retirement, they are faced with the choice of staying at home or going to an assisted living facility. 

Often the option of staying home is only doable if the home is accessible, allowing the owners to access and safely use their environment. However, planning for this last minute isn't a great idea - cost, research, and time for renovations can make it a difficult process. 

Having the laundry facilities in the basement, stairs to the front door or difficult to use door knobs and other hardware are just a few things that need to be considered. While homes that are built with these things in mind are the ideal, often this isn't the case for homeowners.

The solution is to modify the home to improve accessibility. Some modifications can be made easily like switching doorknobs that require pulling or twisting for ones that are levered or keyless entry. Other modifications like stair lifts are more expensive and require structural changes.
There are many options for home modifications,
like this cabinet with a built-in lift controlled by a remote.

Utah's ASSIST Inc. is a non-profit providing expertise in the area. A free pdf book on home modifications is available online. Tips on taking measurements, options available and other resources are in the book.

Funding help for home modifications in Utah include ASSIST's Emergency Housing Repair, and loans from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation

UATF loans can be up to $50,000, and are through Zion's Bank. They are low-interest at half the rate of prime interest. Utahns with disabilities can use funds to make modifications such as installing lifts, changing bathroom facilities to be accessible and putting ramps in.

It is also important to consider home accessibility even if it doesn't affect you - it may one day affect your family when visiting or as parents who are aging move in. An accessible home is a place where everyone can be independent. 

For more ideas on home accessibility, check out UATP's Pinterest board

Friday, February 7, 2014

Free Agrability Webinar on Impaired Visions and Risk Factors in Farming

MID-ATLANTIC AGRABILITY WEBINAR: Impaired Vision and Risk Factors in Farming

Date: Feb.12 at 2:00 p.m. (EST)

Farming is a dangerous occupation, but it is also one which is hazardous to one’s health. This webinar will address a farmer’s eye health, risk factors and technologies to accommodate low vision challenges. Vision impairment can be a significant barrier to farmers in completing farm tasks safely and efficiently. 

Farmers are at-risk to certain vision problems such as cataracts and the Mid-Atlantic Agrability Project and the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired will identify vision health concerns of farmers and discuss ways to prevent and accommodate these problems.  

The speaker will address the following topics in his presentation:
Magnitude of visual impairments in agriculture
Primary visual impairments impacting farmers
Risk factors
How to protect yourself
Resources that can help you

Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to learn from a vision professional about effectively identifying and addressing vision problems.

Webinar Presenters: John Walsh, M.Ed., CRC is Coordinator for Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in New Jersey; Bruce Kastner, PHD is Coordinator of Project Prevention and Independent Living Services.

Registration: Please go to http://ag.udel.edu/rec/Staff/Jester/visual-impairment-webinar.html and register for the webinar. The webinar is free but registration is required. Also registration is limited, so please register as soon as possible.

Information on accessing  the session will be sent to registrants by February 10th. If you have any questions, please contact Ron Jester, Mid-Atlantic Agrability at 302-856-7303 or email rcjester@udel.edu. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Faster than the average Ken

Ken Reid, funding specialist at UCAT.
With the Winter Olympics starting today, we thought sharing our friend and co-worker's own winter sport experience would be a great way to kick-off. 

Ken Reid is a funding specialist among other things at the Utah Center for Assistive Technology in Salt Lake, and he has a serious need for speed.

He's been bobsledding, and recently took first place in a race with a run of 60.2 miles an hour. 

"Bobsledding is going awesome!" Reid said. "I was the only one to break the 60 mile an hour mark."

Ken in his sled just before his winning run.
Reid will compete again in Park City sometime in March. While he said he's not sure where it is going to take him, he's enjoying the ride so far. Good luck to Ken in his racing, and happy Winter Olympics!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

CReATE helping Utahns stay on the move

Staying moving is important to a good quality of life, and that is why CReATE (Citizen's Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment) helps Utahns with disabilities get low-cost wheelchairs and scooters.

Donated devices are refurbished by CReATE, and then available to the public for a fee ranging from $150 to $500. No insurance is needed. See the latest inventory of devices online

In January, CReATE got nine individuals refurbished chairs. A few of them decided to show them off in the pictures below:

Wheelchair tennis with Madeline Smith anyone?
Wheelchair tennis with Madeline Smith anyone?
Glenn Edwards looking thrilled about his power chair.
Glenn Edwards looking thrilled about his power chair.
Jodi Nelson and her chihuaha rocking a CReATE wheelchair.
Jodi Nelson and her chihuaha rocking a CReATE wheelchair.
Eddie Smith trying his new wheels.
Eddie Smith trying his new wheels.