Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Utah Assistive Technology Lab Experience

By: Zach Waxler
Clay Christensen, Assistive Technology Lab Coordinator for Utah Assistive Technology Program, has been busy with repairs and modifications for power chairs and other products for persons with disabilities. The clients of UATP are very grateful for these low-cost repairs.
“A lot of people come in with special modifications being made on their power chairs and scooters to make them more assessable,” Christensen said. “Right now there is almost an epidemic in trying to get wheel chairs repaired because manufacturers want to just replace the part instead of just fix it.”
Christensen said that in the last few months, the type of work he has been doing has changed.
“I’m adapting chairs and other products to better fit the person’s individual needs,” Christensen said. “Lately, I have moved into repairing a lot more power chairs for people, which is normally not what I do.”
For UATP, the experience of the client is first and foremost the most important aspect.
“Sometimes people aren’t able to get a new chair because their insurance either won’t pay or it’s too costly to take it anywhere else,” Christensen said. “I will never turn anyone away, so if there is a problem with being able to pay, we will work it out and get their chair fixed.”
Christensen said the experiences with clients are rewarding.
“The fact that with every person, on a daily basis, I get to do something for someone and see just a bleak smile on their face,” Christensen said. “When you make that repair or adapt that device, it makes their life so much easier and gives them that freedom that they didn’t have. That’s a pretty rewarding aspect of what I do.”
The client reaction when getting their power chair or assistive product back is the most important aspect to Christensen.
“It’s not uncommon to see a tear come across someone’s face,” Christensen said. “You get tons of things like cards when sometimes they can’t afford to pay, but, I’ll have people come by and bake me some homemade cookies or just something small as a token of gratitude. That just shows how grateful they are and that is just so rewarding for me.”
To learn more about Utah Assistive Technology Program, visit Also, follow us on Facebook/Twitter at Utah Assistive Technology Program.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Alternative Spring Break Students “CReATE” a Little Breathing Room for Wheelchair Rehab Program

Stripping donated wheelchairs for parts is a dirty and hands-on job that CReATE relies on to provide recycling income and usable parts for refurbished wheelchairs. 

But this month, CReATE (Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment) received help from eleven community-minded students from Minnesota colleges as part of a trending phenomenon known as Alternative Spring Break.

Alternative Spring Break students from Minnesota show off their pile of recycling at CReATE.
Alternative Spring Break students from Minnesota show off their pile of recycling at CReATE.

With the volunteer support of the students, eight donated wheelchairs were stripped and loaded for recycling. The pile totaled 2,400 pounds, which was heaved into a trailer to be taken to the recycling center.

The students also cleared and painted a storage room and a bathroom as well as helped rearrange some very large desks. 

Each of the earlier tasks on this list would have easily taken the regular staff two to three days to take care of, but with a two month backlog there has simply not been an opportunity to take the time. 

Thanks to these eleven students who decided to get their hands dirty rather than sit on a beach, CReATE is operating more efficiently for the benefit of the community. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

iPad apps for struggling readers and writers

This handout was made by Alyssa Marinaccio, Assistive Technology Coordinator at Keene State College, for the 2015 International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. 

UATP director elected Chair of the U.S. Access Board

The U.S. Access Board unanimously elected Sachin Dev Pavithran as its new Chair on March 11. Pavithran of Logan, Utah is Program Director of the Utah Assistive Technology Program at Utah State University's Center for Persons with Disabilities. He was named to the Access Board by President Barack Obama in 2012.

Sachin Pavithran
Sachin Pavithran, newly elected as chair of the Access Board.
"It is an honor to chair an agency that has done so much over the years to make equal access for people with disabilities a reality," Pavithran stated. "Our buildings, transit systems, and information and communication technologies are more accessible and inclusive because of the work of the Board and the guidelines and standards it has established."

In addition to his membership on the Access Board, Pavithran directs the Utah Assistive Technology Program, and serves on the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs National Board, Senator Orrin Hatch's (President Pro Tempore) Disability Advisory Committee, the Research and Development Committee of the National Federation of the Blind, and the National Multicultural Council of the Association of University Centers for Disabilities.

The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

CReATE helps young Utahn get a new wheelchair after his was stolen

CReATE helped one young Utahn get a new wheelchair after his was stolen. 

Now he plans on going to prom at his high school in Kearns where he can bust out his dance moves. 

CReATE technician and program coordinator, Tom Boman, helped make the connection to the family after seeing the initial news story about the stolen wheelchair. 

Read and see a video about the story on