Possibilities with Assistive Technology

October 17, 2009 by heather

Ann Yoshida can now bike to work, thanks to a wheelchair rack on the back of her handcycle. The rack was designed and built in the CPD's Assistive Technology Lab.

Ann Yoshida can now bike to work, thanks to a wheelchair rack on the back of her handcycle. The rack was designed and built in the CPD's Assistive Technology Lab.

By Heather Young

A  graduate student in Special Education at Utah State University studying Rehabilitation Counseling and currently fulfilling an internship at the Nevada State Office of Rehabilitation, Ann Yoshida is a very busy and active person.

“Being a student and working takes most of my time and leaves little time for exercise. This was evident by how my jeans fit,” Ann said. “I wanted to incorporate exercise into my daily routine without sacrificing too much work and school.”

Ann met with Assistive Technology Lab Coordinator Stan Clelland, and  Stan began working to modify the handcycle to hold Ann’s wheelchair while she was commuting or recreating. 

“Stan put a PVC rack on the back of my handcycle to carry my wheelchair,” Ann said. “This has opened up many possibilities to commute to work, school, the store and other places.”

Before the modifications were made, Ann could only ride back to where she started to retrieve her wheelchair.  “I now have the ability to bike to work,” Ann said. “The commute will cut down on gas, increase my health and hopefully get me back into comfortable jeans.

“The possibilities are endless when it comes to recreation,” she said. “I can participate in a bike race or enjoy the outdoors.  I can do that without porters for my wheelchair and still have the option of mobility in my wheelchair. … Stan provided such fast, personalized and well engineered service. I’m thankful for his efforts in making my life full of possibilities.”

The AT Lab is a project of the Utah Assistive Technology Program. UATP serves individuals with disabilities of all ages in Utah and the intermountain region. Its job is to provide AT devices and services, and train university students, parents, children with disabilities and professional service providers about AT. UATP coordinates its services with community organizations and others who provide independence-related support to individuals with disabilities.

Service Project Makes a Big Difference

October 15, 2009 by cpehrson

Armenian Student Association volunteers work on the BRASC grounds.

Armenian Student Association volunteers work on the BRASC grounds.

The outside of the Bear River Activity and Skill Center is looking good, thanks to a group of USU students.  The Armenian Student Association at USU volunteered to clean up behind the BRASC building on campus.

Gagik Melikyan was looking for volunteer projects for the Armenian students to do when he was referred to the CPD from another department on campus. The whole mission of the student association is to help people, he said.  Jeff Sheen, Coordinator  of the Volunteer program at the CPD, told him about the situation at BRASC and Melikyan immediately agreed to work on the project.

Sheen worked side by side with the four Armenian students one Saturday afternoon in the hot sun behind the BRASC building pulling weeds, hauling off broken tree branches, and cleaning up the outside environment. It looks great!

Melikyan’s plans don’t stop there.  He would like to see this project turned into an ongoing one that will not only improve the looks of the grounds but will turn it into a therapeutic activity for the 17 adults with disabilities who attend this on campus day program.

Working with campus housing and other campus groups, the Armenian student association has secured donations for materials to build a large raised garden bed that is wheelchair accessible for the participants to plant flowers and vegetables in next spring.  Along with supplying the labor to build the raised bed, the students plan to plant a large tree that Malikyan hopes will be watched over by new Armenian students for years to come.

The Armenian students are anxious to meet and get to know the BRASC participants who will benefit from all of their hard work.  They are planning to host a party at BRASC later this year and share a bit of their culture through dance and food.

In the words of Mother Teresa, “In this life we cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.”  Our hats are off to this small but dedicated group of students who, by this small act of service,  are making a big difference in the lives of others.

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Students give their work a thumbs-up.

CPD’s Sue Dubois receives Professional Advocate Award

October 13, 2009 by JoLynne Lyon

Sue Dubois

Sue Dubois received the Professional Advocate Award from the Brain Injury Association of Utah.

The Brain Injury Association of Utah gave Sue Dubois its 2009 Professional Advocate Award for her work to bolster services for Utahns who have sustained traumatic brain injury.

BIAU Executive Director Ron Roskos said Dubois was nominated not only by the Utah Brain Injury Council, but also by attendees at the 2008 Annual Family and Professional Conference. They filled out a form in the back of the conference booklet that asked for nominees for the next year’s award.

Dubois is the community TBI coordinator for the Utah Traumatic Brain Injury Partnership Grant at the CPD. She worked with community members and a team of CPD staff to improve the access to services for people who have sustained a TBI. Dubois set up workgroups in Logan, Brigham City and St. George to discover the needs and concerns of people who have personal and professional experience with traumatic brain injury. From those efforts, communities have begun to address the needs they identified in rural Utah.

TBI is the leading cause of death and disability among children and adolescents in the United States, it is a signature injury experienced by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In Utah, an estimated 44,000 people have sustained a TBI and are living with its effects. These injuries do not always respond to typical treatments and may go undetected for years. Service providers who are unfamiliar with TBI may have a hard time diagnosing and treating people who have sustained a head injury.

Dubois and other team members have worked to train health, mental health and vocational rehabilitation professionals about TBI. Their work was directed by Judith Holt, the CPD’s Interdisciplinary Training Division director.

Dubois credits Utah communities for the progress they have made in providing services to people with TBI. “It was because of the support of the different communities and their willingness to step up to the plate and voice their concerns and challenges, and to be part of the solution,” she said. “It was nice to see how it grew.”

Congratulations to our September CPD Play for Good Winner, Marcia Rowland!

October 12, 2009 by cpehrson

Congratulations to our September CPD Play for Good winner, Marica Rowland!  She was not only the “Smartest” player in September, but also the “Fastest.”  She and her husband are 2 of the top 3 players for the month of September.  Sounds like there might be some competition going on there!  Watch for the Play for Good monthly prize that will soon be mailed out to you, Marcia.

We want to thank our regular players on our Play for Good games for helping the CPD raise money for our programs serving people with disabilities and their families.  Marcia is our winner for this month, but the real winners are the people who benefit from the programs of the CPD.  Game sponsors donate funds that are used to create new programs serving people with disabilities around the world.

Haven’t tried our Play for Good games yet?  Look us over and try some of the games.  We guarantee you will have a fun time and you may just be next month’s winner!

If you or your business would like to become a sponsor of the CPD Play for Good games, please contact us and we will tell you about the different sponsorship options.

Health Care Reform is a Vital Issue

October 7, 2009 by cpehrson

Health care reform is a vital issue for people with disabilities throughout their lifespan.  Decisions about what health care reforms will be in the final health care bill are being made right now in Congress. Members of Congress need to be informed about the issues that will impact people with disabilities before these decisions are final.

 The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) has issued an action alert for advocates and family members who support Health Care Reform.  This action alert supports the inclusion of Long-Term Services in the reform bills. Advocates for people with disabilities can learn more about the current health reform issues on the AUCD website, and then, in turn, share this information with their Congressmen.  

Family Voices, a national family-led organization that aims to achieve family-centered care for all children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and/or disabilities, has issued a press release addressing the health care reform issues (PDF) and how they positively affect these children and youth.  They state that the current health care proposals “increase the services available to these children by eliminating lifetime and annual caps, setting out-of-pocket spending limits, getting rid of pre-existing condition exclusions, and improving care coordination.”  

Now is the time for advocates for people with disaiblities to become informed and make sure that their voices are heard.