Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Utah Assistive Technology Program moves to Vernal

Young people move equipment off a trailer while a woman in a wheelchair looks on.
Volunteers help finish the move to Utah Assistive Technology Program's Vernal location.

VERNAL--The Utah Assistive Technology Lab has changed its name and address. But when it comes to helping people find the equipment that keeps them independent, coordinator Cameron Cressall remains as dedicated as ever.

"Nothing is changing," he said. "We are still serving Duchesne, Uintah and Daggett counties."

The facility—now called the Utah Assistive Technology Program—has moved to 2574 West 500 North, #2 in Vernal. It remains part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University, and will continue to serve people who come to the office with an assistive technology need. 

The Vernal location has a bus stop nearby.

In addition, Cressall said he will still travel to meet the needs of Uintah Basin clients outside of the Vernal area, though he encourages people to come to the office if at all possible.  “Just call and make an appointment,” he said.

Volunteers from both Vernal and Roosevelt helped Cressall make the move on Tuesday. "I am deeply touched by all the help I received," he said. "We got help from 4-H in Uintah and Duchesne counties, and community members of all ages helped us out, too. They showed up with three vehicles and two trailers. We finished the move in one night!"

action photo with smiling teenagers
4-H volunteers load up a trailer during the move.
"We had a good time and we really appreciate Cameron giving us the opportunity to help," said Traci Frost, 4-H coordinator in Uintah County. Her teen council showed up for some heavy lifting.

"Cameron does so much for a lot of people in the community," said Mindy Mair, who helped coordinate volunteers. "This was a way we could pay him back."

The change of address will help people in Vernal get to know UATP services better as well. The organization’s mission is to put assistive technology—or devices that improve or maintain independence—into the hands of Utahns who need it. Clients can access UATP’s demonstration and loan library to see what devices are available and try before they buy. They can receive refurbished equipment or even work with Cressall to customize AT for their particular needs. Finally, people can apply to UATP for small grants or loans to make assistive technology more affordable.

Over the past year, 214 people received either a loaned, custom-built, adapted or refurbished device from UATP in the Uintah Basin. That equipment helped people's mobility in their homes and communities. It allowed them to adapt their homes to accommodate a disability, to learn at school, or to work independently.

UATP also has locations in Logan and Salt Lake City. The small grants and loans are available to Utahns anywhere in the state.

For more information about UATP in the Uintah Basin, contact Cameron Cressall at 435-767-1719 or visit the UATP website at

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Getting camera-ready: how AT helped a CPD intern work independently

Clay attaches an iPad to modular hose, fixed to Bryson's wheelchair
Clay and Bryson try out an early design
When Bryson Carpenter started work as an intern with the Center for Persons with Disabilities, he had some barriers to overcome. He would be shooting video and photos for the CPD, but it was hard to do that independently at first.

Bryson, a freshman at Utah State University, is on the CPD’s media team.

“The goal was to pretty much have something that I could do entirely on my own,” he said. To make it happen, he needed to operate an iPad. But Bryson needed something to hold the iPad up where he could see it. He also needed a way to operate it without using the touch screen.

So he talked to Clay Christensen at the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Logan. UATP is part of the CPD at Utah State University, and its mission is to help people find assistive technology that improves their independence.

AbleNet Blue2 switch. It's big.
Clay and Bryson used the accessible features already built into the iPad to help Bryson operate it. They added a big-button Bluetooth switch (the AbleNet Blue2). When Bryson touches the switch, it’s the same as tapping on the touch screen.  

Then, they used modular hose to hold the iPad up where Bryson could see it. The modular hose works well in a lot of applications, but this one wasn’t a great fit. “Whenever I would drive it would just slowly fall over,” he said. “I was afraid it would fall off.”

So Bryson and Clay got together again, and they settled on a fixed bar with an attached Velcro surface to hold the iPad up. Clay bolted the arm to the tray already fixed to Bryson’s wheelchair.

“It’s always a bit of trial and error,” Clay said. But the end, customized result worked for Bryson, who uses the arm, iPad and switch it as he shoots photos and videos for the CPD.

The CPD also adapted Bryson’s workspace to make sure his computer screen was the right height. To operate the computer, he uses a tiny mouse called a Sanwa supply ring mouse. A regular-sized mouse won’t work for him, but Bryson said this tiny one works fine—and with it he can access and respond to emails.

“It’s good,” he said. “I like it.”

If you live in Utah and would like to find out more about assistive technology that could work for you, visit the UATP website or call 800-524-5152.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Logan man keeps up with work, avoids injury thanks to loaned scooter

Dean Luthi at work, on his new-to-him scooter.
LOGAN--Dean Luthi had some difficulty standing and walking at work at Lowe's in Logan, where he ran the self-checkout. He talked to his manager and they gave him a parking space close to the store and tried putting a seat in his work station. They put his employee card on a lanyard so that he could easily scan it at the register when he needed to help a customer.

Still, the up-and-down action was difficult. Once, Dean fell and had to miss work. "I was out for seven days and I messed up my shoulder," he said.

Most days, injury or not, he was worn out by the time he went home. He was also having a hard time using the break room--it was just too far away.

His manager, Joey Wolford, knew the problem was real. "Dean's a ray of sunshine. He probably has the best attitude of anybody I've ever met," he said. "If he could work here all the time, he would."

Mike Stokes, who volunteers at the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Logan, saw Dean as he was there at Lowe's, picking up some materials the store had donated for a different UATP project. He also saw Wolford in the store.

"Mike is my old assistant soccer coach," Wolford said.

Stokes and Wolford arranged an introduction with Luthi, and the work began to find a scooter he could use on loan from UATP. They found one, and Luthi began working more safely.

"When I got the scooter I didn't have to worry bout falling," he said.

He also received a walker on loan from UATP to help him walk the halls of Bridgerland Technical College, where he is studying to be an auto and diesel technician.

"My goal is to open my own shop," he said.

Information about equipment available for loan from UATP is available in an earlier post.