Thursday, December 19, 2019

Eating and writing made easier, thanks to UATP

Sharon poses with her customized tray
Sharon Ross
BRIGHAM CITY—Sharon Ross needed a way to eat and write from her wheelchair. So she bought a $300 shelf that attached to her chair—and found it still didn’t work for her. 

“Signing papers, that was a battle,” she said. If she wanted to write, she didn’t have much room to do it. If she used it to eat, dinner plates hung off the edge. The tray interfered with her arm rest, and it was too far from her body. So she turned to the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Logan for help.

UATP lab techs Brandon Griffin and Ray Emmart worked together on the project. They made a template from cardboard before shaping the final shelf from a big piece of acrylic. The design brought the tray closer to her body, so she’d have more usable space.

They welded a support bracket and designed the tray so it would slide easily on and off.

Their work doubled the usable tray space for Ross, using materials they had on hand. The cost was $40.

“I think it’s perfect for me,” Ross said. “I can drive with it on.” The tray is so stable, it doesn’t rattle.

Need help adapting equipment? UATP has two fabrication labs in Utah, where they can modify assistive technology or build it from the ground up, usually for the cost of materials. Contact Dan O’Crowley in Logan and Cameron Cressall in the Uintah Basin for more information.

The customized tray doubles the usable space for Sharon, at a fraction of the cost. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

UATP, Prime Time 4 Kids work together, customize a little wheelchair

portrait of Westyn in his wheelchair
VERNAL—Westyn Hacking had come to the time in his life where he needed to get up off the floor.

He couldn’t sit up—a condition he has had since birth gives him only minimal control of his core muscles. He is also blind. But like other children his age he likes to be up, near people, interacting with his family.  

The toddler is also growing.

“He’s getting heavy,” said his mother, Shaylee. “That’s 25 or 30 pounds that you’re packing around. … When we go out to eat, he was either being held or we’d get it to go.” 

She worked with Michael Peterson, an occupational therapist with Prime Time for Kids in Vernal. Peterson had some donated equipment from a former employer, Canyon Home Care. One of the donated wheelchairs was small, but it wasn’t quite a perfect fit. 

So Peterson reached out to Cameron Cressall with the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Vernal. Cameron added a sturdier handle, more supportive straps and some sections of pool noodle on the sides to protect Westyn’s head. He brought the foot pedals up higher to fit Westyn’s legs. 

It wasn’t the first project Michael and Cameron have collaborated on. Both said they liked drawing from each other’s expertise. The result was a chair that fit both Westyn’s body and his situation.

Now, when the Harding family goes out to eat, Westyn can be up at the table on his own. “This gives us a little more freedom,” Shaylee said. 

Do you have used equipment to donate? If it fits children age three and younger in the Uintah Basin, Prime Time 4 Kids is happy to take it. And UATP is glad to accept and reuse equipment for all ages and abilities.

To find out more about donating to UATP, visit our reuse page.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Can't hear on the phone? Here are some options for Utahns.

golden, old fashioned phone
Can't hear on the phone? It's time to upgrade!
We at UATP recently interviewed representatives of several services for people who have trouble hearing on the phone. Relay UtahCapTel and CaptionCall. It’s been enlightening for us to learn how many resources are available, and how many of those resources are free. Here’s are some answers to common questions.

What are some captioning options if I’m having trouble hearing people on the phone?

CaptionCall phone
Captioned phones are available at no charge, with no income restrictions, to people who qualify. Clients must be certified to need the equipment by an audiologist or hearing professional, but once they have that certification, the phone and the captioning service are both free. 

Providers include CapTel and CaptionCall. Both services have representatives in the state who can help with the installation and trouble-shooting of the equipment.

Relay Utah loans amplified phones, captioned telephones, and mobile accessories at no cost to people who meet the income (200 percent or less of US poverty guidelines) and medical requirements.

Applications are available at Relay Utah.  

CapTel phone
Where can I get a demonstration of phones for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing?

Relay Utah offers two demo centers, one in Salt Lake City and one in St. George. These centers offer a variety of devices and options for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Speech challenged individuals. 

The Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing also has an AT demonstration lab in both Salt Lake City and St. George, where people can find out what options are available not just for using the phone but for other situations. Equipment can be loaned on a short-term basis to people who live in the state of Utah. In addition, the center can bring equipment to demonstrate for those who cannot travel. 

UATP in Logan has phones from both CapTel and Caption Call. UATP in the Uintah Basin has a CapTel phone. These phones are for demonstration only; from there we can refer you to the providers.

Are there any mobile options for captioned phones?

Yes. CaptionCall offers a captioning service that works on an iPad, essentially turning it into a captioned phone. It allows the user to view captions on an iPad via wifi or cellular data. The app is free; the user must provide the iPad.

CapTel offers captioning on mobile devices through a third-party app. 

Relay Utah has a limited pilot program to explore the feasibility of using wireless devices to address telecommunication needs for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Speech challenged individuals. The devices are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and they are subject to income (200 percent or less of US poverty guidelines) and medical requirements. 

Where do I go for technical support for a captioned phone?

Both CaptionCall and CapTel offer in-home installation and support. Both services offer some troubleshooting on their websites and on the phone.

This information is to help inform Utahns of assistive technology options. UATP does not endorse any one service or technology provider.