Monday, August 17, 2020

UATP small grant helps a boy communicate


Jennifer holds David while he uses the iPad
Jennifer, David and the iPad

Last month, David Kojorski received an iPad with a protective case, through a small grant from the Utah Assistive Technology Program. Since then, his mother, Jennifer, has noticed some changes in her son, who is Autistic.

"He seems happier that he has another way that he can get what he wants," she said. "When he got it, he definitely got this, 'I'm so fly' attitude."

The communication program on the iPad has pictures of things he wants: juice, chicken nuggets, his favorite Buzz Lightyear toy. He touches the pictures to let his family know what he wants, and the iPad--now a communication device--says the words.

"At first he didn't repeat what it says, but now he does," said Jennifer. "With this, he'll be able to perfect the sounds and grow his vocabulary. ... The sounds are coming out."

The family wouldn't have been able to receive the iPad without the small grant, Jennifer said. "Not now. Not with COVID destroying everything."

The Utah Assistive Technology Program offers small grants of up to $400 for people who need a device. Some income restrictions apply. UATP also offers reduced-interest loans to help people purchase the devices they need. For more information, visit the UATP financing page.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

UATP says goodbye to SLC coordinator

Tom Boman, rear left, had an organizing party at UATP in Salt Lake City, then invited friends and volunteers to join in a celebration lunch back in 2019. Pictured here with Ken Reid (front), Thomas Williams, Michael Luecke and Ed Patillo.

 By JoLynne Lyon

Tom Boman has left the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Salt Lake City. We wish him the best, and we are not alone. He helped many hundreds of Utahns get rolling.


“It’s quite common for some of the mobility devices we transfer to almost become an extension of people’s bodies,” he said in an earlier interview. He has a great sense of humor, but he took the job of giving, improving and restoring clients' mobility seriously.


In the four years I’ve been with the Utah Assistive Technology Program, I’ve talked to a steady stream of people who needed mobility equipment, and found it with Tom’s help. Some didn’t have insurance. Some had insurance, but their provider’s requirements would not allow them to get a new chair when it was needed. Typically insurance pays for a new chair every 5 years, but children grow, chairs break, warranties expire and needs change. Sometimes, even when insurance provides a chair, it’s only after months of waiting. Tom and UATP helped to bridge those gaps for people who still needed to move.


“What a godsend,” said Steven Bryggman of Salt Lake City in an earlier interview. “I have a chair that’s reliable. I still have my independence.” 


“Tom’s a lifesaver,” said Shelly Lund of Ability 1st in Provo, who turned to Tom to help fill the needs of her clients. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be able to help as many people throughout the year.”


“I’m so independent in [my chair], I feel like a movie star,” said Karen Duckworth of Magna.


If you needed a piece of mobility equipment, Tom would find you one, and the fee was almost always lower than an insurance deductible.


He did it all by receiving and refurbishing donated wheelchairs, taking some apart so that their parts could be used on others, and—here is the hard part—keeping track of it all. He pulled in volunteers and worked alongside them, fueled by classic rock and Red Vines licorice.


“When he came to us from Deseret Industries on their work exchange program, I had only worked with him for a week and realized that he would be perfect for UATP in Salt Lake City,” said Clay Christensen, a former UATP coordinator. “His organizational skills were absolutely amazing. His ability to collaborate and work with anyone in the community was so essential to the growth and development of that program. To that end he did a wonderful job. 


“I will always cherish the time that I got to work alongside Tom. It was a great run.”


UATP is searching for its next SLC coordinator. To find out more, go to Utah State University’s Jobs Page, click “Join Us!” and look for job #2020-2804.


In the interim, Logan coordinator Dan O’Crowley will go to Salt Lake City on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work with clients and volunteers. New clients and equipment donations to the Salt Lake City facility are accepted by appointment only. To make an appointment, call UATP in Salt Lake City at 801-887-9390 or email Carolyn Lynch.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

UATP Accessible Times Podcast, episode 2: Tactile learning part 1, See3D

Caroline Karbowski, founder, See3D

In this episode, we meet Caroline Karbowski, founder of See3D, an organization that manages the printing and distribution of 3D models for the Blind. She's a student at Ohio State University who is building a network of volunteer printers.

We also meet several people who have used the service, who raise some fascinating questions about tactile learning. Lindsay Yazzolino, a Boston-area tactile designer, challenges the notion that "blind" means "sensory-impoverished." Tactile learning is a rich experience, she said.

We will explore tactile learning more in September's episode, in an interview with Sheri Wells-Jensen of Bowling Green State University.

1:00 - Caroline Karbowski tells how she started 
See3D, which began as a way to create models from unused 3D printer filament. It is now an official nonprofit.

4:40 - Caroline talks about the number of models the network has printed (more than 800 at the time of this recording).

5:12 - The Ohio Braille Challenge, a braille reading contest, is a big requester of models. The latest one was space-themed, with a lot of constellations.

5:45 - Caroline describes who does the printing, including her, her friends, educators and volunteers. 

7:18 - She is hoping to 
expand her network. Files are being shared on Thingiverse.

11:25 - Heiley Thurston talks about her experience with tactile learning. She used a model to better understand a fly.

12:09 - Bugs are popular requests.

12:33 -Lindsay Yazzolino, a tactile designer from the Boston area, talks about making hand-catching experiences--including a giant model of the human brain (done through a project outside of See3D).

14:36 - Rachel Hage, a certified assistive technology instruction specialist, used a 3D printed model of an eye to help her in her studies

16:25 - 3D models are a serious way to learn.

18:20 - 3D models of mummies allow people to explore a mummy without damaging it.

19:00 - Rachel used a 3D printed iPhone to help students understand how to use one.

24:55 - Caroline would love to connect with more people and inspire more creators. Maybe people who have to do a model for homework can do an assignment that would help people better understand the things around them.

26:05 - Lindsay argues against the notion that being blind means being deprived of sensory experience. 

27:05 - The next episode will explore the concept of tactile learning in more depth, featuring an interview with Sheri Wells-Jensen. Watch for it on September 2!