Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Utah Assistive Technology Foundation loan secures van, independence and time with family

photo of Roland on the ramp of his new van
Roland and his sevice dog, Danny. Roland is  on the ramp
leading to his cargo van.
Roland Bringhurst’s search for a van that could transport his wheelchair was a long one, and it hit some roadblocks. But in the end, the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation was able to help him get a low-interest loan for a van, fitted with a ramp.

“I never would have been able to secure a loan without the help of the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation,” he said.

UATF helps Utahns with disabilities secure low-interest loans, small grants and small business loans, all with the goal of enhancing their physical and financial independence.

The van has two front seats and a cargo area for his wheelchair. “This is going to do for what I really need, which is to do things with the family that require a lot of walking,” he said.

His walking without his wheelchair is limited to about half a block, so if the family wanted to go longer distances without a car, Bringhurst had a hard time participating.

He lives in Logan, but most of his family is outside of Cache Valley. He used to either rely on his son to take him to family events in a truck (with the wheelchair riding in back) or else take a shuttle service to Odgen. “Every once in a while they’d send a van that wasn’t accessible,” he said. Then he would have to wait for another van to arrive.

Having a van of his own makes it possible for Roland to maintain independence, do things with friends and see his family—all of which are good for his mental health. “Being able to see and associate with my family is very important,” he said.

For more information on the low-interest loans available through the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, visit our website.

photo of the van
The van and ramp

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Give the gift of independence. Use Amazon Smile.

photo of gifts

While you’re shopping for gifts this holiday season, why not give the gift of independence?

When you use Amazon Smile, .5 percent of your eligible purchases will go to support the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, which links people with disabilities up with small grants, loans and even small business loans to help them be more independent.

It’s easy to do: just click on "shop Amazon Smile" in the box to your right. Or you can visit our giving page, scroll down to the “Shop at Amazon Smile” box and click on “get started.” You can also find us at when you search for “Utah Assistive Technology Foundation.”

If the assistive technology labs, CReATE or the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation have given to you, this is your chance to give back. If you just want to help other people access the assistive technology that could help them be more independent, this is a way to pay it forward.

Thanks for your support, and happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

UATP at Holly Fair in Roosevelt

photo of holly

Plus answers to frequently asked questions

If you live in the Uintah Basin and have a disability--or if you are close to someone who does--you should watch for Cameron Cressall at the Holly Fair on the USU-Uintah Basin campus in Roosevelt this Friday and Saturday.

Cressall coordinates the AT lab in the Uintah Basin, and he loves to help people with disabilities find a way to reach their goals for independence. "It's not hard to be passionate about my job," he said. "I'm building, creating, doing fun things, making people happy."

The event runs Friday, November 4 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, November 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

But in case you can't make it to Holly Fair, here are some quick answers frequently asked questions:

Q: What is assistive technology?

A: Any device, high- or low-tech, that helps people with disabilities be more independent.

Q: Does the Assistive Technology Lab help people of a specific age group?

A: If you are between the ages of 0 and 150, you are in the right age range.

Q: I see you're on campus. Does that mean you only work with students and faculty?

A: Nope. We work with everybody.

photo of Cameron Cressall
Cameron Cressall
Q: What if I can't afford the technology that I need?

A: The Utah Assistive Technology Program includes a foundation that helps people with disabilities purchase the technology they need. It even facilitates small business loans for people with disabilities.

But you might be surprised at how many inexpensive, low-tech options are available.

Q: I purchased some assistive technology, but it's not quite right for me. What should I do?

A: The AT Lab specializes in finding customized solutions for people with disabilities. We can help bridge the gap between an off-the-shelf product and your specific situation.

Q: How can I find out more about the Utah Assistive Technology Program, and assistive technology in general? 

A: Visit our web page. You can also find lots of ideas on our  Pinterest boards. We're also on Facebook, Twitter (@utahATprogram) and  YouTube.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Customized rolling seat spares family from injury

Photo of Norma
Norma shows of the new rolling seat from outside the
Assistive Technology Lab in Logan.
What do you get when you combine a tiny bathroom, two conscientious parents and growing young man with multiple disabilities who uses a wheelchair?

Unfortunately for the Martinez family, it was an injury waiting to happen. It was important for them to bathe their son daily, but getting him in and out of the small bathroom space was dangerous for them and for him. Norma Martinez said they tried chairs designed for the bath for her son Gabe, but they were still unable to make it work for him in the space that they had. So they turned to the Assistive Technology Lab on the Logan Utah State University campus for a customized solution.

photo of Dan in the lab
AT Lab employee Dan O'Crowley puts on the finishing touches.

The AT Lab specialists designed a rolling seat that could be used to transport Gabe down the hall to a larger room with a Hoyer lift--a piece of equipment that lifts people into wheelchairs. They use towels to lift him out of the tub--an arrangement that spares them back strain.

"The chair worked out great," she said after giving it a test run. "We have more ideas to make it even better."

That's what the AT Lab does: find customized solutions for people with disabilities--usually for the cost of materials. You can find out more on the Utah Assistive Technology Program website. UATP is part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

Monday, October 10, 2016

UATP welcomes new staff member to CReATE

The Utah Assistive Technology Program welcomes Caroly Hulinsky to CReATE in Salt Lake City. (Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment is UATP's reutilization program; we take used and donated mobility equipment, refurbish it and transfer it at a low cost into the hands of people who need it.)

photo of Carolyn
Carolyn Hulinsky
Here is a quick Q & A with Carolyn.

Q: What do you do at CReATE?

A: I have a variety of tasks and don't do the same thing every day. I am responsible for maintaining the database by processing all of the transfers and purchases. I do any other office work that may be needed. I also schedule for delivery and pickup of chairs.

I am also very busy organizing, sorting and counting all of our inventory and entering it into the database. I am working to take the administrative work over from [CReATE Coordinator] Tom Boman so that he can have the time to work on and turn out more chairs. In time I will also begin to learn how to refurbish a chair... I feel like there is so much I can do and I want to learn.

I like working here at CReATE. I think it is so important to help individuals regain their mobility and facilitate their independence. I also think the volunteers and Tom are so fun to hand around as we work.

Q: How did you hear about CReATE?

A: I am a teacher in the morning, and I am co-teachers with Tom's wife. She told me about Tom and what he does. She later mentioned he was hiring someone to work in the office and help out with various things in the shop. It sounded like a really worthy place to work. I like helping others.

Do you have a background in disability?

I have a friend that has some experiences with disabling injury. My friend Chris Santacose is a paraglider. He had a traumatic injury that required him to do rehabilitation for a year before he was able to walk again. As a result he created project airtime.

I do have some background working with an individual with a disability. My sister-in-law had a major stroke when she was 35. I cared for her in my home for two years. I am still her guardian.

Carolyn, thanks for your time, and welcome to UTAP!

Modified walker helps boy interact with his family

photo of Aaron

Meet Aaron. He has a ready smile and a love of light and sound, but he was also born with a condition that gave him low muscle tone. He spent a lot of time on the floor until a walker brought him closer to the level of his family.

"I bought it with the intention of hoping it would help him learn to walk, to help him with his core strength and give him another option besides lying on the floor," said his mother, Kimberly. The walker, which was a simple purchase from Amazon, was a great improvement--it helped him interact more with his family and he soon learned how to work its bells and whistles. Aaron also progressed from needing to be propped up with towels to sitting by himself in the walker.

He enjoyed it, but as time went on, Aaron kept growing. He is now two and a half. His legs were so long, it was like he was sitting on the floor with his knees bent.

photo of larger walker wheelHe is not walking yet. He and a physical therapist from the Center for Persons with Disabilities are working on it, and they've made a lot of progress, but meanwhile he needed some modifications to keep himself upright.

His mother, Kimberly, went to the Up to 3 program for help--and Up to 3 turned to Assistive Technology Lab in Logan. (Up to 3 and the AT Lab are both part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.) The people at the AT Lab attached a wooden mount and some tall, after-market wheels to the walker, adding inches to its height. With the help of his modified walker, Aaron was standing again.

He looks happy in his walker, and Kimberly looks happy watching him in it. "He can move around," she said. "He's not strapped to a chair."

Aaron in his walker

Friday, September 30, 2016

Logan AT Lab welcomes new employee

Photo of Dan
Dan O'Crowley
Dan O'Crowley is the newest addition to the Assistive Technology Lab family. It's good news for the Logan lab--which has been remarkably busy--and for Dan, who is working toward a career in prosthetics.

"Growing up I've always loved engineering," he said. He nurtured his own interest in inventing and problem-solving throughout high school and has since gravitated toward prosthetics--a field that will require him to earn a master's degree.

In the meantime his working on a bachelor's degree in biology at Utah State University, and working part-time at the AT Lab. He learned about the lab from his wife Marcy, who did work there as part of her special education coursework.

"When I got married and I started school here, she said, 'Dan, you should go volunteer at this place I know.'"

She knew of his love of tinkering. He was a mechanic for a summer with his brother. He built a wooden fridge--patterned after an old-fashioned ice box--for his dad in wood shop during high school. And when his parents decided to build a house while he was in high school, he drew up the blueprints.

"That was a big learning curve," he said.

Marcy was right when she introduced him to the lab--he enjoyed it. After volunteering for a semester, he received an invitation from lab coordinator Clay Christensen to work there part-time. Now he is there, helping the lab handle an ever-growing workload.

Welcome, Dan!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Great information on the USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab, in 1 minute

Thanks to help from KLCY's Aggie Report in the Uintah Basin, we offer this quick look at the new Utah State University-Uintah Basin Assistive Technology Lab in Roosevelt. Come see us if you're in the neighborhood!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A guide to accessible voting in Utah

photo of woman holding "vote" signs
By Nate Crippes
Staff attorney, Disability Law Center

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

Voting is an immensely important act.  Democracy relies on each and every citizen using their vote as their voice.  Since democracy relies on every citizen, it is also very important that every citizen have access to the polls.  Thankfully, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) did a lot to ensure that polling places meet the needs of everyone. 

However, because voting is also an incredibly personal act, access alone is not enough.  HAVA says that each person must be able to vote as privately and independently as any other person.  That is why HAVA requires each polling place to have an immensely important piece of assistive technology, an accessible voting machine.

Now, some of you may have already received a notice about voting by mail this election season.  At this time, 21 of Utah’s 29 counties have moved to vote by mail this year.  So what does this mean for those who may require an accessible voting machine to vote independently and privately? 

The counties that have moved to vote by mail usually have a few polling places available on Election Day.  Contact your county clerk for more information on this.

If you happen to live in a county that does traditional voting rather than vote by mail, you will also have the option to vote early at some polling locations.  These locations will also have an accessible voting machine.  For more information on early voting contact your county clerk’s office. 

If you need help finding your polling place, go to

If you experience any problems with voting on Election Day, whether by mail or traditional means, the Disability Law Center (DLC) will have a voting hotline, (800) 662-9080, to answer your questions while polls are open. 

In addition, if you have any questions or concerns about voting prior to Election Day, please do not hesitate to contact the DLC at the same number or at

Friday, September 9, 2016

Volunteers help make our world go 'round

Photo of a missionary working on a wheelchair battery

Utahns, are you looking for a place to serve? We have three!

The Utah Assistive Technology Program has long taken pride in its volunteers, who have helped us serve Utahns with disabilities for years. We have enjoyed the help of people who have retired but not stopped working; of students and community members; and, most recently, LDS missionaries fulfilling a service requirement.

AT Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen has two messages for those who donate their time to the AT Labs or CReATE: Thank you. And please don't stop.

Lately Christensen has been swamped with wheelchair maintenance requests--perhaps because insurance doesn't always cover the need, maybe because it's hard for patrons to find someone who can do it. He is grateful for the volunteers who help him keep up with the demand while still tending to other aspects of the AT Lab mission: demonstration, training, research and the development of prototype devices that help people with disabilities become more independent.

"It makes a huge difference," he said while two missionaries worked on moving and disassembling wheelchairs. "The labor these guys did today would've taken me five hours." (The two missionaries worked there for two hours that day.)

"It's fun," said Elder Weston, who has been coming twice a week. "It's hands-on, I get to tear things apart, and I help people change their lives."

"It's good to stay busy, and know something good's going to come out of it," said Elder Weston, who worked in the lab at the same time.

They are examples of what CReATE Program Coordinator Tom Boman said is ideal volunteers, because they come in on a regular basis. Boman, too, has benefited from volunteer help, which has eased the demands on his time. The program, based in Salt Lake City, refurbishes used mobility devices and transfers them to people who need them at an affordable cost. CReATE now transfers more than twice the number of devices as it did in 2014.

Volunteers help Boman keep up with the demand and deliver record numbers of mobility devices into the hands of people who need them. CReATE has enjoyed 30 to 50 hours per week of donated time in recent months, but Boman said they could always use more. "Volunteers who are willing to come in on a regular basis can really help us out," he said.

The new AT Lab at USU-Uintah Basin in Roosevelt is already feeling a similar pinch: lots of donated devices that could use some tweaking, lots of need, and not enough hours in a day. Lab Coordinator Cameron Cressall said volunteers would be welcome.

To find out more about volunteering with UATP, contact:

Clay Christensen, Logan Assistive Technology Lab, 435.797.0699
Tom Boman, CReATE, Salt Lake City, 801.877.9398
Cameron Cressall, USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab (Roosevelt) 435.722.1714

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Guest post: Pop culture is showing a welcome shift in portrayal of people with disabilities

Photo of Emily Lund
By Dr. Emily Lund
Post-doctoral Fellow, Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University
2016 Robins Award Winner, Graduate Researcher of the Year, Utah State University

“Sport doesn’t care who you are,” a 2012 advertisement for Samsung announces, showing video of Paralympic athletes doing pushups, lifting weights, swimming laps, and otherwise training intensely for the upcoming games. The ad is one of many that has come out in recent years from Olympic sponsors, promoting not just able-bodied athletes, but their often-under-recognized Paralympic peers. During the 2016 Olympic games, it was not uncommon to see Paralympians like ten-time wheelchair racing medalist Tatyana McFadden featured alongside Olympians in ads supporting Team USA. As the 2016 Paralympic games start in Rio, increasing recognition, public interest, and media coverage is being given to Paralympians.

Also encouraging is the increasing acknowledgement in the media that Paralympic athletes are just that—world-class, talented, and extremely hardworking athletes. The inspiration narrative of the coverage is shifting from one that focuses solely on impairment to one that acknowledges the extraordinary skill of these competitors.

The increasing and changing media coverage of the Paralympic games in recent years represents a shift, however gradual, in how disability is represented in the media. Historically, people with disabilities have often been portrayed in a one-dimensional manner, seen solely as objects of pity or passive inspiration. Telathons portrayed children with disabilities as people who were incapable of living a good, rich, and meaningful life, and TV shows often cast characters with disabilities for “special episodes” where the person with a disability existed only to teach the main characters a touching life lesson and then to disappear again.

Quote: Historically, people with disabilities have often been portrayed in a one-dimensional manner, seen solely as objects of pity or passive inspiration."
Lost in these portrayals was an acknowledgement of people with disabilities as complete people, with rich and varied hopes, dreams, and experiences. Much like the narrative of Paralympic games, that is now changing, as characters with disabilities become more dynamic parts of the television landscape.

The new ABC comedy, “Speechless,” which premieres September 21, focuses on the life of a teenage boy with cerebral palsy, JJ DiMeo, and his family. The ads for the show don’t sugarcoat the experience of disability—JJ’s mother is shown fiercely advocating for her son’s rights to full inclusion in a public school—but they don’t shy away from portraying JJ as a full person, one who is opinionated, adventurous, and very much a teenage boy. He is shown to be as much of a complex and involved character as any other one in the pilot, despite the fact that he is non-verbal and uses a letter board to communicate. Rather than being someone who merely watches the action unfold, JJ participates in it actively. He is more than a plot point—he is truly a part of the narrative.

“Speechless” represents one example of the new disability narrative that is seen on television. Another such example is the popular HBO show, “Game of Thrones,” which features Tyrion Lannister, a man with dwarfism, as a main character. Throughout the show, Tyrion is given substantial character development, both positive and negative, and while his disability and other people’s reactions to it are an important part of the narrative and his character, he is very much portrayed as a dynamic, complex, and complicated character. Although “Game of Thrones” and Speechless” are very different shows that are aimed at very different audiences, they both represent the increasing willingness of writers to embrace disability and characters with disabilities as central aspects of their shows.  Additionally, both Tyrion—played by the Emmy-winning Peter Dinklage—and JJ—played by relative newcomer Micah Fowler—are portrayed by actors with disabilities, thus embracing the “nothing about us without us” aspect of the disability rights movement.

Similarly, the Emmy-nominated reality TV series, “Born This Way,” on A&E follows the lives of seven young adults with Down Syndrome. Their experiences of disability definitely influence the narrative of the show, but much of what the subjects experience—questions of love, friendship, family, school, and work--is familiar to anyone who’s gone through young adulthood, regardless of disability status. In their willingness to show people with disabilities as fully human, these portrayals allow people with disabilities to be active participants in their own stories.

The changing portrayal of people with disabilities in the media, be it Paralympic athletes, characters in scripted TV shows, or reality TV stars, invites the public to see people with disabilities as people whose stories should be told in full. Furthermore, it allows people with disabilities and their family members, both as participants and viewers, to be part of a richer, more complete conversation about what it means to live with a disability.

Monday, August 29, 2016

USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab Open House brings public, service providers together

photo of a young man on an adapted saddle
This adapted saddle is one of many examplesof assistive technology used to help
a person with disabilities meet his goal.
Utah State University-Uintah Basin and the Utah Assistive Technology Program celebrate their new AT Lab with an open house on September 7.

The event takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Multipurpose room of the Roosevelt Campus, 987 E. Lagoon St., and it will feature information from many different service providers for people with disabilities.

The Assistive Technology Labs in Roosevelt and Logan help find customized solutions—both high- and low-tech—for people with disabilities to meet their goals in employment, education and living independently. They work in partnership with Options for Independence in Logan and Active Re-Entry Independent Living Center in Eastern Utah.

Many different service providers for people with disabilities will participate in the open house. Look for representatives working in early intervention; assistive technology; Agrability (assistive technology for people in agriculture); educators; independent living; alternative communication; services for children with special health care needs (including autism); a low interest loan and small grant program; and CReATE (which provides affordable, refurbished mobility devices to Utahns who need them).

A number of vendors specializing in products and services for people with disabilities will also attend.

For more information, contact: Clay Christensen, lab coordinator in Logan, 435-797-0699
Cameron Cressall, lab coordinator in Roosevelt, at 435-512-6121.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

AT Lab brings cashier and customers to same level

photo of Diane handing a receipt to a customer

Thanks to the Assistive Technology Lab at USU-Logan, a friendly cashier can see eye to eye with her customers.

Diane Young of Logan worked through Vocational Rehabilitation to find a job with a large retailer, but her short stature made it hard for her to reach the keypad and interact with shoppers. She needed a platform.

The project was referred to the Assistive Technology Lab, part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program within the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. From there, Lab Coordinator Clay Christensen and Mike Stokes, a volunteer, set about assessing the need.

photo of Diane on the platformWhen they looked for a ready-made platforms online, they decided those options were significantly less customized and more expensive than what they could build on their own.

Stokes and Christensen visited Young at work. They went with her to an empty cash register where they could take measurements and find the right height for Young's work station floor. Then Stokes made a platform that would not only raise the level of her work station, but also fill the work space without leaving any gaps that could be a safety hazard.

Stokes said the finished product was made of lightweight corrugated packaging material and covered with non-slip padding. He built handles into it to make it easier to move.

"It's working really well," Young said. "It's very lightweight. You can move it easily."

"After she got comfortable with it she was cashiering," Stokes said. "This was a great project. It was simple, quick and it makes it so she can work."

The AT labs at USU help find customized solutions for people with disabilities who want to meet a goal. Projects are usually done for the cost of materials, though donations--either monetary or of used equipment--are encouraged. More information is available on the lab's webpage.

Friday, July 29, 2016

UATP trailer means CReATE devices can now go on the road

Photo of Jose Morales in his wheelchair
Jose Morales receives a wheelchair from CReaTE
in Salt Lake City. Soon, people in  the
Uintah Basin will have access to CReATE devices.
For years, CReATE has been putting equipment into the hands--and smiles on the faces--of people who need mobility equipment on the Wasatch Front. Now, refurbished mobility devices can roll out to new parts of the state.

An exchange of devices between CReATE in Salt Lake City and the Uintah Basin can now begin, thanks to the opening of the Utah Assistive Technology Program's new USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab and the addition of a big trailer.

The new trailer was purchased through a grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, and it's an important part of UATP's goal to make services mobile in the Uintah Basin.

UATP staff can now to pick up donations from the USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab and deliver them to the CReATE program in Salt Lake City. There, they can be refurbished and transferred at an affordable cost to people who need them. The CReATE program can also transfer wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility-related assistive technology back to people in the basin.

"We want people to know that this is part of the Roosevelt Lab," said Clay Christensen, the Logan AT lab coordinator. "{Roosevelt AT Lab Coordinator] Cameron will represent CReATE in the basin area."

That's good news--and it's sure to bring more smiles to people with disabilities in rural Utah.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Save the Date: Roosevelt Open House

photo of Cameron Cressall
Cameron Cressall, AT Lab Coordinator
Join us as we celebrate the opening of the new USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab in Roosevelt on Wednesday, September 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room of Utah State University's Roosevelt campus. We will introduce our new director as well as services available from the AT Lab.

We are inviting other service providers to join us and set up a table at our open house.

If you provide services for people within the Uintah Basin in Utah and you are interested in setting up a booth, please email JoLynne at utahatp [at] gmail [dot] com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wheels for Daemon

photo of Daemon
Daemon in his new chair
Daemon Wabel had outgrown his wheelchair. “He’d had the same wheelchair since he was three, and he’d outgrown it,” said his mother, Stacey.

It was too narrow, and it was falling apart. But replacing it would mean paying a $4000 deductible, and that price was awfully steep.

So Stacey found an ad on KSL Classifieds that mentioned the CReATE program. Based in Salt Lake City, CReATE takes used mobility devices and refurbishes them, then transfers them back to people who need them at a low cost.

She contacted Tom Boman at CreATE. Tom asked for some measurements, then searched the inventory for a chair that would work. CREaTE doesn’t normally stock pediatric chairs, but they did find a smaller chair for Daemon. “It was like finding a needle in a haystack,” Stacey said.

That was just the first step. Boman needed to refurbish Daemon’s new chair, so he did some welding on the old one to help it hold together until the refurbished one was ready. “He’d gotten a lot of use out of that old chair,” Boman said.

Boman also modified the new chair so that it could accommodate Daemon as he grows.
When Daemon received his new chair, it was a joyous moment. He does not talk, but he still communicated.  “When we changed him out of his other chair, he screamed with delight,” Stacey said. “I’m not exaggerating. He was just bouncing around in there. … It was very obvious that he loved this chair.”

Boman said CReATE helps people—like Daemon—who have needs that cannot be met. Often, insurance programs only pay for a wheelchair every five years. Many chairs don’t last that long. 

Fortunately for CReATE, other chairs do outlast their owners’ need. Some of those are donated to CReATE, where they are refurbished and transferred to those who need them at a low cost. CReATE (Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment) is part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program within the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

To find out more, visit the CReATE web page.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reeve foundation grant augments USU-Uintah Basin AT Lab services

A little girl is fitted for assistive technology
The AT Lab in Roosevelt will offer services
similar to those out of the Logan AT Lab.
People with disabilities in the Uintah Basin will soon have more help meeting their goals for independence, thanks to a grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the new Assistive Technology Lab at Utah State University in Roosevelt.

The lab and the $73,925 High Impact Innovative Assistive Technology grant from the foundation will open up new possibilities. People in the Uintah Basin will have expanded opportunities to obtain and learn about assistive technologies that could make a difference to people with mobility, communication, vision, hearing or other disabilities.

“We have a physical presence over there in the Uintah Basin now,” said Alma Burgess, the grant’s principal investigator.  “That allows us to do something similar to what the AT Lab does in Logan now.”

The funding will support the Roosevelt lab’s services. It will also enhance the device loan bank already operating there. The loan bank allows people to find out if a piece of assistive technology—which can sometimes be costly—will truly work for them before they make a purchase.

The Roosevelt AT Lab will also provide training on how to use assistive technology; build, modify and maintain devices; and work with people with disabilities. In addition, it will perform services similar to those already offered in the CReATE program in Salt Lake City, offering affordable refurbished devices to people who need them.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Uber and the Disability Law Center team up for better transit

A young man in a wheelchair enters a van via a lift

Wheelchair accessible vehicles introduced in Utah

By Nate Crippes
Utah Disability Law Center

Technology is constantly improving.  This includes assistive technology, as I am sure many readers have seen.  At the Disability Law Center, we advocate for people with disabilities to get the assistive technology they need.  Rarely have we been able to advocate for the improvement of technology.  Over the last few months, however, we received such an opportunity. 

Here at the DLC, we are aware that people who use wheelchairs have little access to taxicabs and similar services.  As we were looking into options to try to force their hands at providing some access, we were put in touch with the folks at Uber.  We were aware that Uber has been operating their Uber Assist program, an option for Uber riders that is able to provide more assistance for people with disabilities, in Utah for quite some time.  While this program can help certain people in wheelchairs, it did not provide access to people who use power chairs. 

The DLC and Uber worked together to find vehicles, and drivers, that were equipped to provide riders to people who use power chairs.  After a few months and several meetings, we were able to get a vehicle provider on board to get Uber WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) up and running. 

Last month, Andrew Riggle, DLC Public Policy Advocate, and Ms. Wheelchair Utah, Eliza McIntosh, took the inaugural Uber WAV ride to the Utah Center for Assistive Technology in Salt Lake City.  

Miss Wheelchair Utah and others talk outside an accessible van

In order to request a ride, once you have the Uber app, you just select “Access” on the vehicle icon slider and select WAV.   Unfortunately, vehicles may be limited at this time, until we get more providers and drivers on the app.  However, Uber is aware when rides are requested, and an increased demand will help us get more vehicles on the platform to ensure more access.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Video: Accessing Services from the Utah Assistive Technology Program

Do you need an assistive technology device? Do you have a goal for independence and you need to figure out how to meet it? Do you already know of technology that could help you gain independence--or even income--but you don't know how to finance it?

This is for you!

This video offers a brief introduction to the Assistive Technology Lab, the CReATE reutilization program (at 19:09) and loans available through the Utah Assitive Technology Foundation (at 36:31).

Friday, June 17, 2016

Interdisciplinary disability program now available in the Uintah Basin

an IDASL student works on a wheelchair for client Gordon Richins
An IDASL student works on a wheelchair
for client Gordon Richins.
The IDASL program has trained students on addressing disability issues since 2001. Starting in Fall 2016, it will be an option for Utah State University students in the Uintah Basin.

The IDASL (Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning) class is a two-semester, one- to three-credit course available to juniors, seniors and graduate students of all disciplines. Its purpose is to help people from all academic fields work together to find solutions to disability-related issues. The number of credits available depends on the student’s level of involvement.

Cameron Cressall, an alumnus of the program who is now the Assistive Technology Lab coordinator in Roosevelt, took the class when he returned to school after years in construction work and furniture building.

“Of all the classes I’ve taken at USU, that one class had more impact, hands down, than any other,” he said. “It led me to what I do today.” It made his work experience in building relevant in his chosen field: Social work. (As the lab coordinator, Cressall helps people meet their goals for independence by using technology to move, eat or enjoy a favorite activity.)

His lab experience also provided him with a career option that felt right. “I’m building, creating, doing fun stuff and making people happy.  … It’s not hard to be passionate about my job.”
Cressall worked in the AT lab as part of the service learning the IDASL program requires of all its students. Now, the lab he leads will provide similar opportunities to students in a whole new part of the state. Other service learning options in the Uintah Basin are pending.

In addition to service learning experiences, the class requires its students to attend seminars and presentations where they learn about disability in a collaborative, solution-focused approach.
Stipends are available for long-term trainees. For more information, contact Alma Burgess, the project coordinator.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

FREE Webinar: Addressing Reciprocative Conversational Deficits in People with Disabilities

photo of two young women communicating

Communications app training will especially benefit children and adults on the autism spectrum

A free webinar will address teaching communication skills. It takes place June 23 from 3 to 4 p.m. 

Many people make the false assumption that learners/candidates for augmentative and alternative communication have two-way, turn-taking conversational skills in place. Most times, this is not true. The learner must be explicitly guided through the conversational process.

For example, we assume everyone knows that asking someone, "How are you?" would result in the conversation partner replying, "Fine, thanks. How are you?" Most times, early or young AAC candidates do not reciprocate the conversational segment. 

Further, in the case of people with autism spectrum disorder, the learner is often not even aware that they must take a turn in the conversation. Often, false conversations between a person without disabilities and a person with disabilities devolves into a game of 20 questions in a one-way conversation. This is also the case for almost all AAC conversations.

photo of RJ Cooper
RJ Cooper
RJ Cooper, longtime developer of assistive technology and AAC, has developed an app that guides such persons through a conversation. At the conclusion of applied therapy, generalization might even be possible. RJ will be showing video, presenting research, and finally taking questions.

This webinar will be presented by RJ Cooper of RJ Cooper and Associates. 

In order to participate, you will need a computer with high speed internet access.


If you are interested in joining please RSVP by Tuesday, June 21 by contacting Lois Summers. 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  no later than Tuesday, June 21 to make arrangements to participate via phone.

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Q&A with Tom Boman at CReATE

photo of Tom Boman
Tom Boman

CReATE lab coordinator reflects on success in Salt Lake City

Recently, the people at CReATE in Salt Lake City finished a month for the record books by providing 25 devices to people who need them. We asked Tom Boman, the CReATE coordinator, to tell us more.

You had a record-breaking month. Tell me more about it: were the 25 devices you transferred to clients mostly electric wheelchairs?

There was a variety of mobility devices transferred: five power wheelchairs, one scooter, 14 manual wheelchairs, four wheel walkers (rollators), and a wheelchair carrier.  In past years CReATE has almost exclusively focused on power wheelchairs, but we’ve tried to slowly expand our offerings and it’s worked out much better than we’d expected.

How does this compare to the volume of devices transferred a year ago? Two years ago?

In 2015 we transferred an average of 13.1 devices per month, and in 2014 it was 9.8.  Our 2016 monthly average is 20.4. 

What difference do these devices make to the people you serve? Is there a recent example that stands out to you?

It’s quite common for some of the mobility devices we transfer to almost become an extension of people’s bodies.  It can become part of their identity and an integral part of their independence.   We recently refurbished a power wheelchair for a lady that enabled her to continue her work on a medical assembly production line.  The power seat on her previous chair stopped working and she spent months not being able to change her body position for her 10-hour shifts.  The power wheelchair we worked on for her has power rehabilitation seating that enables her to elevate herself up to the correct height, and to vary her body position throughout the workday to help eliminate fatigue and injury.  Seeing that type of direct impact on people’s lives makes this work very rewarding for all of us.

Have you had to make changes in the shop to do this much more business?

Wow, where do I begin…?  There have been a lot of changes in the past three years I’ve been here.  If you’d seen the shop before then and saw it again now, the thing that would probably strike you the most is the level of organization.  We have more than doubled the warehouse racking and added a lot of special parts racks, storage bins, totes, and cabinets to store all the wheelchair parts.  You’d also probably notice that we have a lot more wheelchairs and other mobility devices packed inside the shop.  There’s just not much open space at all, and we have to resort to storing some devices outside.  We also have a lot more tools than we used to, and we’ve worked hard to keep them organized and readily accessible.   New workbenches with a custom-built wheelchair hoist have also helped us get the devices at a comfortable level for the work we do.  A custom-developed MS Access database has enabled us to consolidate all of the information on our client contacts and the all of the devices we have in inventory.  Finally, and most importantly, is the addition of the eight different volunteers that help us out to the tune of 30-50 hours each week.  Our volunteers are the best, and they make a big difference in what we are able to provide the community.

What role do those volunteers play?

Volunteers are absolutely critical to our work here.  Our ability to provide this level of service is due in large part to them. They come from different backgrounds and offer us their unique perspectives on the challenges that we face here at CReATE.  They help at almost every level of work we do here; from refurbishing complex power wheelchairs to scrapping out wheelchairs to cleaning the shop and organizing parts.  

How could the public help you carry on CReATE’s mission?

We can always use more donated devices and more volunteer help.  We have a lot, but are always in need of more devices and parts to be able to help our clientele.  Their need is constant so ours is as well. Volunteers that willing to return on a regular basis can really help us out.  People can also help spread the word about CReATE.  Occasionally we have clients that cannot cover the cost of our modest service fees and cannot secure funding through normal channels.  If someone would like to help cover those costs, that would not only help our clients but would also help us to “keep the lights on” and to continue to serve the community.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Roosevelt’s Assistive Technology Lab at USU opens, welcomes coordinator

photo of Cameron on the Uintah Basin campus
Cameron Cressall is the new AT Lab coordinator in the Uintah Basin.

There is a new face in the assistive technology scene in Roosevelt—and he’s ready to get people rolling.

Cameron Cressall is the coordinator of the new Assistive Technology Lab on Utah State University’s Roosevelt campus. Assistive technology is used to help people with disabilities achieve independence.  The new lab will work in partnership with other providers, including the Active Re-Entry Independent Living Center in Price, to provide customized assistive technology to Utahns in the Uintah Basin.

“It’s not hard to be passionate about my job,” Cressall said. “I’m building, creating, doing fun things, making people happy.”

While the lab is just getting started in Roosevelt, Cressall is not new to assistive technology. He worked in the AT Lab in Logan, where he regularly helped people meet their goals for independence. 

Both AT labs are part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program in the Center for Persons with disabilities, and they do more than just repair equipment. They also customize it to ensure it works for individuals with disabilities.

"We look forward to working with Cameron to continue meeting the needs in the Uintah Basin," said Nancy Bentley, Active Re-Entry's director. "Now we can involve the community even more, because the lab can take used devices, give them another life and put them into the hands of the people who need them."

"The AT Lab on USU's Logan campus has provided services that have helped a lot of people in Northern Utah," said Sachin Pavithran, the UATP director. "We're excited to bring those services to the Uintah Basin, and to provide them in a mobile format to reach people in rural settings."

Before getting involved in the disability field, Cressall worked in construction and building. Eventually he found himself back in school at Utah State University, taking the Interdisciplinary Disability and Service Learning (IDASL) class offered through the CPD and completing a bachelor’s degree in social work. The IDASL class teaches people from all fields of study about disability issues. It also gives service learning opportunities to students, including an option to gain experience in the Assistive Technology Lab on the Logan campus.

“It totally changed my life,” Cressall said. “Of all the classes I’ve taken at USU, that one class had more impact, hands down, than any other. … It led me to what I do today.” It also provided a good blend of tinkering, building, customizing and serving people.

How you can help

Both the Logan and Roosevelt labs need your donations—especially of used assistive technology equipment like wheelchairs, scooters, lifts and power wheelchairs. If you have devices you would like to donate, please call 1-800-524-5152.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Need to get the word out about AT in Utah?

photo of JoLynne Lyon
This summer, JoLynne Lyon will be blogging, Facebooking, tweeting, Google-plus-ing, and communicating with the media and the public for the Utah Assistive Technology Program.

She is a freelance storyteller with expertise in public relations and marketing, and she’s excited to work again with people from the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University (she was its PR specialist years ago).  “I love the CPD,” she said, “and UATP is such a vibrant program. It’s doing a lot to change the lives of people with disabilities in Utah, and those efforts are growing throughout the state.”

If you want to get the word out on assistive technology issues—especially in Utah—you can contact her via multiple social networks, or through email at gemcache1[at]

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

USU sees changes—but UATP services remain the same on Logan campus

photo of goodbye graffiti on the CPD building
The Center for Persons with Disabilities is decorated with farewell
graffiti. It is scheduled for demolition this month, but UATP's
services to clients will remain the same.
If you’ve been on the Logan campus of Utah State University lately, you’ve probably noticed some changes. The building that houses the Center for Persons with Disabilities was recently covered in graffiti in one last, affectionate gesture of farewell. It is now fenced off from the public and will soon be demolished.

Construction will begin this summer on the new Center for Clinical Excellence, which will house many Center for Persons with Disabilities programs.

Here’s how these changes will affect the people served by the Utah Assistive Technology Program: They  won’t.

Though UATP is a program of the Center for Persons with Disabilities, it is not expected to relocate to the new center, which is scheduled for completion in late fall of 2017.

Throughout the construction period, the Assistive TechnologyLab will go on serving clients from the same on-campus location in the Janet Quinney Lawson Building.

Some administrative UATP offices have moved physically, but they are still located in the Human Services Research Center on the Logan campus, and email addresses and phone numbers remain the same. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Assistive technology accommodations in higher education

By Nate Crippes
Utah Disability Law Center

As a new semester progresses, it is helpful to remember what higher education institutions must do to aid students with disabilities.  

In particular, it is helpful to know what higher ed must do to aid students with assistive technology. While law and regulation on this topic is complex, the U.S. Department of Education has a useful Q&A on these issues.   
Chalkboard graphic

As the department notes, an institution may be required to provide “auxiliary aids and services” to students with disabilities:

[Auxiliary aids and services] include note-takers, readers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, screen-readers, voice recognition and other adaptive software or hardware for computers, and other devices designed to ensure the participation of students with impaired sensory, manual or speaking skills in an institution’s programs and activities.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that institutions would not be required to provide these auxiliary aids and services, or assistive technology, for personal use or study. They would also not be required to provide every aid a student wants.

Institutions are not required to provide an academic adjustment that would alter or waive essential academic requirements. They also do not have to provide an academic adjustment that would fundamentally alter the nature of a service, program or activity or result in undue financial or administrative burdens considering the institution’s resources as a whole.

In addition, an institution is not required to make modifications that would result in undue financial or administrative burdens. Public institutions are required to give primary consideration to the device or service that the student requests, but can opt to provide alternative aids or services if they are effective. 

If a student with a disability is in need of assistive technology, or any other accommodation, their institution will have a procedure in place. Each institution’s procedure will be slightly different, but they will have an office that can help with accommodations for assistive technology (links to the major Utah colleges and universities accessibility offices are below).  

While not all accommodations will be provided, a student who is provided assistive technology as an accommodation is not expected to pay for it. As the department states:

Once the needed auxiliary aids and services have been identified, institutions may not require students with disabilities to pay part or all of the costs of such aids and services, nor may institutions charge students with disabilities more for participating in programs or activities than they charge students who do not have disabilities. Institutions generally may not condition their provision of academic adjustments on the availability of funds, refuse to spend more than a certain amount to provide academic adjustments, or refuse to provide academic adjustments because they believe other providers of such services exist. In many cases, institutions may meet their obligation to provide auxiliary aids and services by assisting students in either obtaining them or obtaining reimbursement for their cost from an outside agency or organization, such as a state VR agency. Such assistance notwithstanding, institutions retain ultimate responsibility for providing necessary auxiliary aids and services and for any costs associated with providing such aids and services or utilizing outside sources.

The department provides much more information. In addition, if you have questions regarding accommodations, including those involving assistive technology, you can contact the Disability Law Center. More information can be offered, and, if necessary, legal consultation to help you resolve the issues with the institution. Please visit our website, or call us at 1-800-662-9080.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

National Federation of the Blind of Utah: Cash Scholarships Available

Are you blind or visually impaired? Don’t miss out on this huge scholarship opportunity! 
NFB logo

If you are blind or visually impaired in the state of Utah, we encourage you to apply for both a NATIONAL and STATE scholarship through the National Federation of the Blind. All scholarships awarded are based on academic excellence, community service, and leadership. Very few scholarships available offer cash for higher education students, and the NFB National Scholarship Program is one of the largest in the country. 

Eligibility Requirements for State Scholarship
1. Must be legally blind (PDF document) in both eyes, and,
2. Must be currently residing in the state of Utah (for state scholarship) and,
Blind person with cane graphic3. Must be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program at a United States institution in the 2016 scholastic year (does not have to be at a Utah school).
4. Must participate in the entire NFB of Utah convention to be held on May 5, 6, & 7, 2016 in Provo, Utah (In addition to a scholarship, each winner will receive assistance to attend the state convention including hotel accommodations, registration, food, and banquet ticket). 

ALL applicants are HIGHLY encouraged to apply for BOTH a National and State Scholarship! The deadline for national scholarships is March 31, 2016. The deadline for the NFB of Utah State Scholarship is April 20, 2016.

How to Apply:
1. Visit the NFB National Scholarship Application for full details:
2. Click on the: 2016 Scholarship Application Form, online edition, or 2016 Scholarship Application Form, print edition
3. Fill out application COMPLETELY. (No partial applications will be considered).  
4. Include all related documentation.
5. Send ALL the same documents required for a National Scholarship to the NFB of Utah:

Email: (*Scan and email all information), or mail to:
Deja Powell
2900 West Lehman Ave. #179
West Valley City, Utah 84119

If you have further questions or concerns regarding the scholarship application process, please contact: 
Deja Powell: 801-891-3430 or, Everette Bacon (President of the NFB of Utah): 801-631-8108