Thursday, May 22, 2014

Microsoft OS Accessibility Tip

By Clay Christensen
AT Lab Coordinator

If you use the Microsoft Operating System on your computer, you will be excited to learn about the Ease of Access Center.

Computer users at the AT Lab.
This is little treat that is part of Microsoft that many do not know about, but offers great accessibility options for those with low-vision or blindness.

To access the center, go to 'programs' and in the file search, type 'ease'. It will give you the option of opening the Ease of Access Center and there you will find a magnifier, on-screen keyboard, screen narrator, and contrast settings.

If you scroll down you will find more options such as setting up other alternative devices and adjustments that can be made to the mouse for those with physical disabilities.

The best part about Ease of Access is all that it offers so easily - it is built in to the system. 

I have many elderly people ask me about a magnification device for their PC, and little did they know that in a few clicks they could enlarge and modify their screen. The feedback I have received from users has been very positive. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bacon Bits: Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Today is a significant day in the lives of many people with disabilities around the world. 

May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness DayWhen I think about accessibility and what it means to me personally as a blind American, I have to say without a shadow of a doubt that if you are newly blind or if you know that blindness will be a significant part of your future. 

This one statement can be built on - it is better to be blind in 2014 than in any other time in the world’s history! Let me give you a few reasons why. 

First, access to information through technology has advanced by leaps and bounds within the past 20 years. No longer do blind people have to wait for the mailman to deliver them their braille book or audio cassette. I now can get access to books digitally and be reading pretty much whatever I want within seconds of searching for it. 

Secondly, because of access, blind people are breaking down the barriers that have kept many of them from entering the S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. There are more blind scientists, mathematicians, educators, and technology professionals than ever before in the history of blind people. When I was a child back in the 1970’s and 80’s, I was not allowed to participate in the science labs. I know this is not the case anymore. 

Thirdly, blind people are changing the social stigma that they are helpless. More and more blind people, whether they use a white cane or a dog guide, are getting out of their homes and venturing out in the public eye using all forms of transportation. The time is closer now than ever, that blind people will have access to a car that can be driven using non-visual techniques. Whether the automobile is self-driven by a computer such as the Google car or blind people have partial control of some of the features of the vehicle as demonstrated in the National Federation of the Blind’s 'Blind Driver Challenge', blind people will be behind the wheel of a car someday soon.

All this being said, Global Accessibility Day is a day to celebrate the accomplishments of what we have gained access to and to reflect on where we need to go in the future. Happy Global Accessibility Day to all my disabled family! Let’s keep moving forward and changing what it means to be blind!

Everette Bacon
Bacon Bits is a recurring post by Everette Bacon, president of the Utah National Federation of the Blind, supervisor of technology and employment at the Utah Division of Services for the Blind, and friend of UATP. You can follow Everette on Twitter @baconev. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Buy on Amazon and Make a Utahn with a Disability Smile

If you're an shopper, you can help donate to the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, at no cost to you! 
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support UATF every time you shop at, where you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation.

On your first visit to AmazonSmile, you need to select the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping, or simply click here. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make on AmazonSmile will result in a donation. 

Thank you for your efforts to support UATF. UATF helps Utahns with disabilities afford assistive technology through low-interest loans and small grants. Devices like hearing aids to adapted vans help people with disabilities be independent. Help us help out!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Alert for USU students: interdisciplinary disability awareness class

Are you a USU student who enjoys hands-on learning, service and exciting new territory? Then IDASL might be for you.

The Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University offers university students opportunities from a variety of disciplines to increase their awareness, knowledge and understanding of people with disabilities and their families across the lifespan.   
IDASL students listen to a seminar.

Students will participate in seminars and hands on activities with parents of children with disabilities and students or other adults with disabilities. The instructors’ and guest lecturers for the program are from several different fields of study.  

The program goal is to include students from as many colleges and departments on campus as possible to truly make the program interdisciplinary.  

This interdisciplinary focus will greatly benefit them when they begin their professions. The IDASL Program strives to prepare all students for better interaction between those working in the helping professions and people with disabilities and their families.

Currently we are recruiting students for the 2014-2015 school year. There are stipends available for students who will participate both fall and spring semester in the seminar (Friday afternoons from 1-4 p.m.) and complete additional service learning hours at community agencies that provide activities for children or adults with disabilities.  

Students are not required to register for course credit to receive a stipend. Student must be a Junior, Senior or Graduate student. Learn more at or call Alma Burgess 435-797-0253.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Trash to treasure at CReATE

One person's trash is another person's wheels, at least at CReATE.

CReATE wheelchair recipient.
Ten refurbished wheelchairs that were donated by the public went to Utahns with disabilities in April for a low-cost fee. 

Power wheelchairs, scooters and manual wheelchairs are available at CReATE from $100 to $500. Twenty devices were donated in the month of April, keeping them out of the landfill and putting them to good use. 

See the current inventory of available devices here. Keep on rolling!