Assistive technology for low vision training

September 30, 2009 by heather

An online workshop will discuss several types of assistive technology for low vision.

An online workshop will discuss how contrast, color combinations and screen size can both help and hinder the user.

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) is holding a FREE online interactive training on Wednesday, October 14, 2009; from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Karl Smith, Access Technology Consultant, will present Assistive Technology for Low Vision.

Karl will discuss different types of low vision conditions and how reading machines and computer screen enlargement–including contrast, color combinations and screen size–can both help and hinder the user.  He will demonstrate video magnifiers from portable to desktop as well as computer screen magnification both with and without speech.

To participate you will only need a computer with high-speed internet access. If you are interested in participating please RSVP by Monday, October 12, to Heather Young .  I will email you the participant instructions.

If accommodations are needed to participate in the training please contact Sachin Pavithran  no later than Friday, October 9, to make arrangements.

Please feel free to pass this information on to anyone that may benefit.

Screen reader survey seeks participants

September 29, 2009 by JoLynne Lyon

Screen readers make internet use possible for people who are unable to read a monitor.

Screen readers make internet use possible for people who are unable to read a monitor.

WebAIM  is conducting its second screen reader user survey.  WebAIM is an initiative of the CPD that  focuses on web accessibility, and its researchers are looking for participants who could help inform development choices for those creating accessible web content.

All screen reader users, even those that use screen readers only for evaluation and testing, are invited to participate.

Screen readers make internet use possible for people who cannot read a computer monitor. The technology’s effectiveness can be hampered, though, if the web design is inaccessible. In addition, screen reader users have their own preferences on how accessible content is presented. The WebAIM team conducted its  first screen reader survey last year. It brought in more than 1100 responses and helped team members to fine-tune the accessibility training they offer to website devleopers.

They hope for an even bigger response this year.

Please share this information with screen reader users and disability groups.

Rural county strengthens its health services for children

September 29, 2009 by JoLynne Lyon

People in rural areas face unique challenges when seeking mental health services. They often must drive long distances to see a professional. Sometimes, even if local professionals are available, they are not on insurance companies’ lists of preferred providers.

Major County, Oklahoma has taken a smart and successful approach to these challenges, not only in the area of mental health services but across the spectrum of special health care needs for children.

Five years ago, results from a needs assessment survey showed that families in Oklahoma had an overwhelming need for mental health services for their children. Today, those services are easy to find and accessible throughout the community. Denice Haworth, County Coordinator for the statewide Sooner SUCCESS program, also ensures that any family with any need is served, even if they don’t necessarily have a confirmed diagnosis. This includes families and children of any culture, socioeconomic status, or age.

To find out more, read Major County’s  story on the Champions for Inclusive Communities website. The county is one of several Star Communities recognized for providing coordinated, family-friendly services, emphasizing early screening, ensuring that families have the funding and insurance they need, and finding ways to transition children with disabilities into the adult world.

Champions InC is a national center funded by the federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau. It is housed in the CPD’s Early Intervention Research Institute at Utah State University.

The Flu and Kids with Special Needs

September 25, 2009 by cpehrson

The flu season is upon us. With the added concern of the swine flu this year, parents may have more questions about how to protect their children, especially those who have special health needs.  Along with the regular flu shots, pediatricians and health officials are recommending the H1N1 vaccine. 

The Utah Family Voices Health Information Center, a partner of the Utah Parent Center, advises that “parents are their children’s best advocates and so they need to get as much information as possible and weigh it out for their  individual circumstances.”  There are many places to find  flu vaccine  information for parents.  The Utah Family Voices Health-e-Connections newsletter , Volume 1, Issue #17, offers flu warning signs to look for and helpful hints for those who have children with special health needs. 

They remind us that “Everyone is responsible for making sure they are taking every effort to keep healthy by practicing health habits!  This not only protects their individual families, but others that are at a huge risk medically.”

The Center for Disease Control also provides many resources on the 2009-10 flu season that can be easily downloaded, including a three-step program for taking precautions and preventative actions. CDC maintains a weekly H1N1 flu udate website.  Check it out at

Utah is Ready for Grassroots Advocacy

September 23, 2009 by cpehrson

The Utah Developmental Disabilities Council and a coalition of community partners are devoting resources to revitalizing grassroots advocacy in the disability community throughout Utah. This Grassroots Advocacy Partnership will promote input from the disability community to ensure that disability viewpoints are considered by policymakers as policy and funding decisions are made.

This grassroots effort will help people tell their stories and educate policy makers and the community as a whole about the issues that impact the lives of people living with disabilities.  People will be trained to explain “this is what my life looks like; this is what I have done on my family’s behalf using family members / friends / church support systems; and here are the pieces that would make a difference for me (i.e., respite services, employment supports, living supports and skill building).”

To learn more about this grassroots advocacy and to find out how you can get involved, you can go to the UDDC website.