The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

CAC Corner: Affordable Housing Matters

September 22, 2014 by Sue Reeves

By Kim Datwyler, Executive Director, Neighborhood Non-profit Housing Corporation

Image of affordable home.When you hear the term “affordable housing,” what does it bring to mind? Some people think of it as having a negative connotation, but actually, HUD defines it simply as paying no more than 30% of a household’s total income for housing. Those that pay more are considered “cost burdened” and generally have difficulty affording basic necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care. When you think about it, everyone needs affordable housing. Having housing that is “affordable” creates stable living environments and a healthy economy. So the next time you hear somebody say something negative about affordable housing, you can politely educate them on what it really means!

However, there is a real concern about having enough affordable housing, especially for people with limited incomes. Average rents in Utah increased 3% again last year, making apartments less affordable. For instance, average rents in Salt Lake City are now $832; in Ogden they are now $764. These rents can be too expensive for many families. But there are resources available throughout the state that can help. Did you know the State of Utah’s Department of Housing and Community Development manages a website that lets you search for affordable apartments? It can calculate which apartments are truly affordable for your income (remember our definition above) and where there are available units. You can even specify which city you would like to live in and if you need accessible features. Go to and try it out!

For people that already have a place to live but are struggling to make ends meet, calling “2-1-1” can help you find out about other resources that may be available. You can find out about local programs that provide assistance, such as the HEAT and HELP programs which help people with utility bills, or the Utah Telephone Assistance Program (UTAP) that provides discounts on telephone bills for low-income households with landline telephones. Homeowners can ask about the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP); this helps families reduce energy costs and increase comfort and safety in their homes. Individuals, families, the elderly and the disabled who are no more than 200 percent of the current federal poverty income level are eligible to use this program.

Another statewide resource is the HomeChoice program. This is a program operated by Neighborhood Nonprofit Housing Corporation in partnership with the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund. It offers homeownership opportunities to families with a member that has a disability. You have to qualify for a mortgage, but this program provides a 1% loan for a portion of the purchase price, which makes the home more affordable. It also has the advantage of not having to use private mortgage insurance (PMI), which saves you at least $200 more every month. You can call the HomeChoice hotline at 1-866-493-4500 to request information and an application.

And last, you can become an advocate for affordable housing. Most people think this is a hard or frightening thing to do, but it just takes a little practice. Start by attending a city council meeting and see how they are conducted. Each meeting generally starts with a time for public comments, which means that anyone can address the city council on issues they feel are important. Once you see others give public comments, you will realize that most city council members are genuinely interested in hearing ideas from their constituents and take them into consideration. Then when an affordable housing issue comes before the city council, attend the meetings and speak up in support of it. Bring a friend if it helps you feel more comfortable. Remember that there will always be people that speak out against affordable housing projects, and if you don’t voice your support, the council members may think that the project isn’t important or needed. You can help them see that affordable housing is important and it does matter!

Heidi’s Happenings: Harry Potter Day

September 18, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Heidi Hill is a guest blogger for the CPD’s Developmental Skills Laboratory (DSL), a day program for adults with disabilities. Heidi loves to type and each month she’ll be sharing the fun activities that she and her “buds” are doing at DSL.

DSL participant Reed enjoys a bike activity with Common Ground Outdoor Adventures.

DSL participant Reed enjoys a bike activity with Common Ground Outdoor Adventures.

We did window art and we did other activities and we had fun! We had Harry Potter Day.  We dressed like him. We made wands and capes. Heidi and her buds sure did have one heck of an enormous blast, directly up here, on campus.

We did tons of activities inside this wooden and glass-windowed work-site. We made yummy smoothies which weren’t quite as thick as Heidi and her buds supposed they might be. Other than that, they were sticky, but yummy. Those drinks sure tasted good.

We also did other projects ’round here. We all worked on the bulletin board, and made the “very very hungry caterpillar” out of our handprints. Our hands got really messy with paint from that fun project.

We made our very own bowling game, and had lots of fun knocking over those pins.  We had a great activity with Common Ground. We cycled all over campus and it was fun.  We also made crepes, went swimming, and had Hawaiian Day. Summer program ended on august 15.  We sure did enjoy having those kids up here for the summer!

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Alaska Bikerun benefits SKI-HI

September 16, 2014 by Sue Reeves

Members of the 2014 Alaska Bikerun for SKI-HI.

Members of the 2014 Alaska Bikerun for SKI-HI.

For the 13th year in a row, Dr. Mike Tuccelli, now a retired deaf ASL instructor, led a group of 12 motorcyclists on his annual benefit ride for SKI-HI from Florida to Alaska and back. They took off from St. Augustine, Florida with seven riders on July 26, 2014 and picked up five more along the way from Georgia, Tennessee, New York, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota and covered more than 10,000 miles! The riders raised $9,000 for the work of the SKI-HI Institute. Mike is now busy planning the 2015 ride.  You can read about that ride and register to go on  He plans to take a side trip to the Northwest Territories. Mike’s father, who died at age 98, rode his bike every day and used to say “It’s not the years left in your life but the life left in your years.”

Several things that happened in relationship to this event this summer are worth noting. The first was the sad news of the passing of Mike Tuccelli’s mother, Doris Stoliker, Sunday August 17 at the age of 95.  She had joined Mike a few years ago for a portion of the Alaska ride in a sidecar.  She loved to travel and had an adventurous spirit. Obviously, Mike inherited that. She had asked that donations be made in her name to SKI-HI for the work with young children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Two other riders were making the trip for special reasons. First was Jerry Greely of Florida, who dedicated this trip to two fellow riders who died of cancer this last year. Jerry and Andre Desbiens rode the motorcycles of both these individuals who passed, to Alaska and back. Jerry also dedicated the ride and gave a $1,000 donation to SKI-HI in honor of Amy, a young girl who was born deaf and who became an inspiration to his family over the years. This ride also helped Jerry accomplish two things on his bucket list, making it to the Arctic Circle with three other riders and then to Prudhoe Bay in 40 mph winds, 35 degrees, and a polar bear warning! Barry Hansel dedicated his ride to his father and a friend who is a paraplegic, both of whom had always wanted to make it to Alaska on their bikes.

The rider who raised the most money was David Foote of Maple Grove, Minnesota. He had been dreaming of making this trip to Alaska since he was a teenager and finally got the chance to do it this year after he retired. He raised almost $3,500 in pledges! He joined the group in Rosedale, Minnesota and his local motorcycle club provided a wonderful meal and evening for the Alaska riders. David also dedicated this ride to a great niece and nephew, Hunter and Riley, both born deaf this past year.

Another rider, John Williams, provided a barbeque dinner in his back yard for the whole group when they arrived in Burlington, Iowa, where he joined them for the rest of the trip. He also has family members with special needs. The other riders on this trip were Cindy and Lee Ebersold, Scott Kardenetz, Ken Klutz, Richard Moore, Dennis Owens, Andrew Sairrino, Thomas White and Robert Stevens. For many of these riders, this is one of those trips on their bucket list.

The SKI-HI Institute is located within the Division of Research and Evaluation, Center for Persons with Disabilities, College of Education at Utah State University in Logan.  Starting in 1972 with a federal grant, SKI-HI developed one of the first early home intervention programs and curriculum for infants and toddlers who were deaf and hard of hearing in the country. Funding from this year’s ride will be going to some of the updates being written for this curriculum, one of which is a section on cochlear implants.

Over the years the Institute expanded with new model programs, materials and training in the areas of deafblindness, blind/visually impaired, deaf mentoring and other disabilities. Through grants, SKI-HI helped to start six new programs in the state of Utah that are now permanently funded by the legislature and operated by the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. Many of the SKI-HI Institute programs (e.g., SKI-HI, INSITE, VIISA) are implemented throughout the United States and Canada via trainings which are conducted by national and local trainers.

The Institute has also developed online courses in blindness and deafblindness  in partnership with the Hadley School for the Blind and through federal grants. These online courses are available through RCDE, the distance education programs of Utah State University. For more information about the SKI-HI Institute go to

We appreciate all that Mike Tuccelli continues to do to help us move our work forward here at the SKI-HI Institute.

This blog post was submitted by Elizabeth Dennison of SKI-HI.


Program aids people with disabilities in search for state jobs

September 11, 2014 by Sue Reeves

45376324.thbThe Alternative State Application Program (ASAP) is a program designed to appoint qualified persons with disabilities through an on-the-job examination period. The law that provides for this program has been around since 2010, said Leah Lobato, the director of the Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, but not many people are aware of it.

“It’s something we want people to know about,” Lobato said. “It’s one more resource to help people with disabilities find jobs.”

When a qualified person with a disability is interested in being considered for an eligible opening, they contact Shannon Casias, the State of Utah Recruitment Consultant. To be eligible, the candidate must meet the minimum qualifications for the job and provide adequate documentation of their disability.

Casias works with the agency’s recruiter to educate them on the ASAP process and determine if the hiring official wants to interview the ASAP candidate. The agency recruiter continues with the recruitment during this time.

If hired through ASAP, the applicant will be placed in a schedule A position and begin a six (6) month, on-the-job examination period. Supervisors will be instructed to conduct monthly performance evaluations during the six (6) month on-the-job examination period. At the end of the six (6) month period, if successfully performing, the employee will be converted to a schedule B position and begin a twelve (12) month probationary period.

For more information, view a video here or visit the web site here.

Contact the recruitment consultant, Shannon Casias at (801) 538-9683 or by email at for more information. You may also call the main telephone number for DHRM at (801) 538-3025 and the receptionist can assist you as well or transfer you to another staff member.








Research study addresses behavior basics

September 9, 2014 by Sue Reeves

19044471.thbA research study headed by Gretchen Peacock, a Faculty Fellow at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, will examine prevention-oriented parenting strategies for misbehaviors by young children.

Interested parents will be randomly assigned to a group that begins meeting weekly on Sept. 15, or to a group that will begin in October. The first group will meet for five weeks on Mondays at 4 p.m. beginning on Sept. 15 in CPD Room 152.

Participants who attend all the sessions and complete the study measures will receive a $10 gift card.

Up to 3 Early Intervention is not part of the study, although Sue Olsen, director of exemplary services at the CPD, says Up to 3 is supportive of it. The study intervention will provide families with information about strategies to promote positive relationship building and to address problematic behaviors including noncompliance, tantrums, physical aggression, picky eating and sleep-related difficulties. Children who are currently receiving Up to 3 behavior services should not be part of the study.

For more information, contact Trisha at or (509) 948-5737.

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