Thursday, September 25, 2014

Free online webinar: EagleEyes: Eye-Control Mouse Technology

The Utah Assistive Technology Program will present 
a FREE online interactive training of 
“Eagle Eyes: Eye-Control Mouse Technology,” 
on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. MST.

The innovative technology of EagleEyes allows individuals to control a computer mouse simply with the movement of their eyes. Developed at Boston College, the eye-controlled computer mouse makes using a computer possible for individuals unable to properly use their hands for standard computer use. 

It is a unique device that serves a specific demographic of individuals who experience limited dexterity or complete paralysis, and/or lack full purposeful head movement. 
Because of its unique technology, it’s a device that will work for many individuals when other devices have failed. 

How it works:

By placing electrodes around the user’s eyes, the computer detects their eye movement and gives them the ability to control the computer’s mouse with the actions and rotations of the eye. It also allows for free head motion and can actually be augmented with purposeful head movements. 
EagleEyes can be used for recreation, communication and education. 

Developed at Boston College 20 years ago, there are over 270 systems distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada. Since 2006, this life changing technology has been available to the public, manufactured and distributed by The Opportunity Foundation of America, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.  

Andrew Loeffler will be presenting the webinar. He is the Director of Operations for The Opportunity Foundation of America, the sole manufacturer, distributor and trainer of the EagleEyes technology. Andrew has experience as an educator as a Chief Flight Instructor and adjunct faculty at Utah Valley University, where he developed unique and innovative curriculum and implemented standardization of teaching and training. 

He has been involved with the EagleEyes Project for three years starting out as a volunteer before becoming Project Developer and Director of Operations to enhance the service, support and accessibility of the EagleEyes technology. His background in business, technology and education brings a unique perspective to the special needs community. 

Join us to learn how EagleEyes works, how to use its service, the audience it serves, its comparison to other devices and how it’s being used in schools, homes and care centers to change lives, that in many cases, have never been able experience the operation of a computer. In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed Internet access. 


If you are interested in joining please RSVP by Tuesday, Sept. 30thContact Storee Powell via email, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.

If you are a screen reader user, or need any other accommodations in order to participate in the training, please contact UATP Program Director Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or, no later than Monday, Sept. 29th to make arrangements to participate via phone. Please feel free to pass on this information to anyone that you think might be interested.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Zombie Walk to benefit Options

Oct. 4th is the Zombie Walk/Run fundraiser for Options for Independence at Willow Park.

Options for Independence in Logan is an Independent Living Center providing many services to people with disabilities in Cache Valley. Help them during this spooktacular fundraiser Oct. 10th and sign up for the annual Zombie Walk. Costumes encouraged!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mark you calendars: UCAT's assistive technology open house

The Utah Center for Assistive Technology will hold an open house on Thursday, October 1st, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm, showcasing the latest in assistive technology devices. 

With demonstrations and service information from over 20 vendors, this year’s event will feature everything from keyboard and mouse alternatives, to mobility assistance such the GoBabyGo ride-on cars for children disabilities and refurbished wheelchairs from CReATE.

Participants can also learn about voice activation equipment, software programs to assist students, children and adults with disabilities, augmentative communication devices, home modification options and information about funding for assistive technology devices.

Individuals with disabilities, their families and service providers are invited to attend the open house. The Center is located at 1595 West 500 South in Salt Lake City. Light refreshments will be served. You don't want to miss out on this exciting and educational experience. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

United Way of Cache Valley lends helping hand in Technology Lab

By Bennett Purser

On Thursday, the United Way of Cache Valley presented the National Day of Caring, in honor of Sept. 11. They invited service volunteers across the valley to lend helping hands to non-profits of their choice. The Utah Assistive Technology Program was lucky enough to have three great volunteers join Clay Christensen, coordinator of our Assistive Technology lab.

The volunteers went right to work with Clay, building a ramp for a client who contacted us about a need to make her home accessible for her wheelchair. The volunteers visited her apartment early that morning to assess the measurements and meet the client. Afterwards they went straight back to lab to begin building from scratch. 

"We came here thinking we were going to be cleaning the lab," said volunteer Stacy Newman. "But we broke out the power tools so it was cool and she was very grateful."

Employed by Stevens-Henagar College, Newman and her colleagues Eli Smith and Nikki Godfrey, work in the admissions department. They described their work as often helping students, which led to them wanting to further their assistance to the community.
Newman said that her team tries to get together for a day of service at least once a year. 

They participated in every detail of the creation of the ramp, from measuring and sawing the wood, then piecing them together before painting it navy blue.

"We like to help people so its kind of in our nature to do that," said Newman. "Little things are what make people grateful and you never know when you're going to affect somebody's life and change them for the best."

Monday, September 8, 2014

School Tools: SmartPen for learning disabilities

By Kent Remund

Q shows Bond a super pen.
Q would be impressed with the SmartPen.
Growing up, I loved James Bond movies. My favorite scene in each movie was when he would visit “Q” in the lab to see the latest gadget that had been created for James to use. 

When I first saw the Livescribe SmartPen, I was placed in the moment feeling like I was visiting “Q”. This pen has become one of the most demonstrated and recommended pieces of assistive technology for students within the complete range of learning disabilities. What makes this pen so great?

LiveScribe SmartPen
The LiveScribe SmartPen is a great tool
for people with learning disabilities.
While the SmartPen allows you to take traditional ink notes, it also has the ability to capture audio simultaneously while taking notes. Here’s where the real magic happens: the pen is combining written notes and anchoring them with the audio happening at that exact moment, bookmarking it for later. What does this mean? 

This allows you to go back in your written notes and tap on something written, and the pen will playback the audio from that exact recording within the pen. No need to search through hours of a recording. The pen requires special paper that has thousands of dots that the pen uses to track writing and anchor it to the audio that it records.  

How is this such a powerful tool for people with learning disabilities? For many, it is completely transforming the way they pay attention in class, retain information, process information and study using the audio from notes they have taken.  

We teach the individual to keep key notes during a lecture while are paying attention rather than worrying about keeping overly detailed notes. For most students with learning disabilities, auditory learning is their biggest strength and most struggle with the stress of keeping accurate written notes. This pen allows a student to go home and play back audio from a specific point to help retain the information that we being presented. 

The Livescribe pen can be purchased at many major retailers such as Office Depot, Staples, Office Max and online from A 2 gigabyte pen can store up to 200 hours of audio and is reasonably priced at approximately $120.00. The paper that is required for the pen costs $20.00 for four books.  

The pen does so much more and must be seen to believe - this YouTube video demonstrates the pen in action.

This video shows how students with dyslexia are using the pen to be successful in class.

Please contact me if you would like a demonstration, be evaluated or have questions regarding the SmartPen. There are a couple different versions of the pen and we can help determine which one would be best for you.

Kent Remund is part of the Utah Center for Assistive Technology serving Utahns with disabilities, and a member of the Utah Assistive Technology Teams serving Utah school districts, helping people with disabilities identify and obtain assistive technology that will enhance the quality of their lives. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Upcoming training on serving people with disabilities from various cultures

A free training, A Guide to Success: Serving People with Disabilities of Various Cultures, is coming soon by the Center for Persons with Disabilities at USU along with UCASA, UDVC, the Sanderson Center and Human Capabilities.

Topics will include:

  • Assumptions, Stereotypes and Generalizations
  • Culture and Cultural Competency
  • Communicating with People who have Various Types of Disabilities
  • Service Animals and Other Accommodations
  • Effects of Violence and Trauma on Disability
  • Response to Victims with Disabilities 

USU Brigham City, 265 W 1100 S, Miller Bldg. Room 164, Brigham City, on September 18th from 1:00 – 3:00.  

USU Extension/Health Dept., 151 North Main, Room 180, Tooele, on September 23th from 1:00 to 3:00

Please RSVP to Lynelle at or 435-797-8807.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Disability Law Center Update: Assistive Technology Denial Cases

By Erin Hough

The Disability Law Center (DLC) advocates for individuals to be able to access many different types of assistive technology devices and services. This month, I decided to share some examples of our recent assistive technology cases. Hopefully this helps you better understand our work and current trends.

Example #1: We’ve had success appealing private insurance denials of CoughAssist. 
Child using CoughAssist.
CoughAssist device.

As the name implies, a CoughAssist is a device that helps someone to cough who otherwise wouldn't have that ability. This device was critical for the health and safety of our clients. Nonetheless, a private insurance company (who shall remain nameless) claimed that CoughAssist is investigational and experimental for the treatment of anything other than cystic fibrosis. 

After reviewing the medical literature, we were able to successfully argue that this was not the case, that these devices are actually well-proven and effective for other populations. The insurance company agreed to pay for the devices. If you know of someone in a similar situation, call us! A strong appeal can make all the difference.  

Example #2: We’ve had limited success advocating for students to be able to use their own personal communication devices at school.

I've been hearing more and more about this issue lately. Parents purchase a device for their child, only to find that the child’s school is unwilling to use it. What is the school’s obligation in this situation? 

I'll give you the all-encompassing, all too predictable legal answer: it depends. The law requires that students have access to the technology necessary to benefit from their education and access the general curriculum. The school should also consider the transition needs of the student and the input and materials provided by all members of the team (including the parents and student). 

However, it is ultimately the school’s responsibility to make the decision as to which device or service they feel will best enable the student to access her education, and this may or may not be the device brought from home. Each individual situation is different. Call us if you’d like us to review your particular case regarding AAC devices at school for your child.

Contact the Disability Law Center at 800-662-9080.
Services from the DLC are available to all Utahns with disabilities.

A Reminder: Medicaid will cover communication devices for adults.

Two years ago, the Utah Court of Appeals overturned a state Medicaid policy denying coverage for speech augmentative communication devices (SACDs) for adults over 21. The DLC represented the two clients in related cases. 

Since then, we've heard very little about adults being denied coverage for these devices. We do know there are still challenges, especially for people needing related evaluations or training. If someone you know receives a Medicaid denial of a communication device or related service, call us! 

For that matter, contact us if you’re having any sort of problem accessing a communication device. SACDs are usually considered to be “Durable Medical Equipment,” and they should be covered by most insurance companies. 

I hope you found this glimpse into our work to be enlightening. If so, stay tuned to the UATP Blog for more updates!

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.