TEDxUSU to include CPD researcher

July 31, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of Vonda Jump

Vonda Jump

Vonda Jump, senior researcher at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, has been selected as one of 12 presenters at the TEDxUSU event on October 23 in the Caine Performance Hall.

Jump’s presentation, entitled “Unlocking the secrets of a baby’s brain through a parent’s heart,” details some of her recent research into brain development. Recent brain research is clear, according to Jump, who said, “Babies’ brains develop through their interactions with their primary caregivers, and the types of interactions they have impact their brains differentially. Babies depend on their primary caregivers for physiological self-regulation and brain organization in the early months. What babies need is a consistent, sensitive, and appropriately responsive caregiver for optimal development. In this regard, the baby’s brain mirrors the parent’s heart.”

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies brought TEDx to USU in 2012 with the hope that the conference would help underline the university as a thought-provoking venue where challenging thinkers share insight with the community. TEDxUSU is meant to push attendees and online viewers to think outside of their comfort zone by engaging them in new and different subjects.

Since then, the each year’s event has sold out within hours, and the talks have garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.

This year’s TEDxUSU event will include two speaking sessions held in the Caine Performance Hall, separated by an extended intermission in the Kent Concert Hall atrium. The intermission will include food and interactive exhibits related to the talks.

TEDxlogoTickets will be available this year through a lottery process, beginning Sept. 21. Those who wish to attend must sign up for the lottery before Oct. 5. This process is meant to streamline and simplify the ticket purchasing process. For more information on purchasing tickets visit tedx.usu.edu.


DLC visits AT lab

July 29, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Group of people in assistive technology lab.

Clay Christensen describes recent AT fabrication projects to members of the Disability Law Center.

Representatives from the Disability Law Center, Utah’s protection and advocacy agency, visited the Assistive Technology lab at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities recently.

“The DLC wanted to learn more about AT and explore further collaboration,” said DLC advocate Sheri Newton. “We wanted to see what’s available and the role of the AT lab in the state. We want to make sure Utahns with disabilities are getting the AT they need.”

AT lab coordinator Clay Christensen said the lab serves 600-1,000 people every year through device demonstration, the loan bank, fabrication, repairs and reutilization.

“Sometimes it’s a quick fix, at times it’s pretty overwhelming,” he said. Ideally, he said, the AT lab provides services to people who are waiting for insurance approval of new devices, or provides low-tech solutions to bridge the gap as they wait for higher tech devices.

While the lab receives outside funding, donations of used equipment are crucial. They can also be heartbreaking.

“It’s a pretty jagged pill when you work with a family to fit a chair for a kiddo and then the mom comes in with an empty wheelchair to donate it,” he said. However, it usually isn’t long before the wheelchair is repurposed for another family’s use.


Next U.S. Access Board meeting to be webcast

July 23, 2015 by Sue Reeves

webcastThe U.S. Access Board will hold its next meeting on July 29 from 1:30 – 3 p.m. ET (11:30 – 1 p.m. MT) and will stream the proceedings live for the first time. The public is invited to attend the meeting through the scheduled webcast or in person at the Board’s conference space in downtown Washington, D.C. The meeting will take place during a week of events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Passage of the ADA was made possible only through the grassroots advocacy and active engagement of a broad and vocal constituency,” notes Access Board Chair Sachin Dev Pavithran. “Inaugurating webcasts of our meetings to provide people all over the country, as well as the globe, a virtual ringside seat to the proceedings is an especially appropriate way for the Board to mark the ADA’s anniversary.”

The meeting agenda includes reports from Board committees and from the Executive Director, as well as updates on agency rulemaking and other activities. It also incudes briefings from invited speakers. Marilyn Golden, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, will review major findings from a comprehensive analysis of public transportation accessibility conducted for the National Council on Disability. Maria Town, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, is also slated to address the Board.

Meetings of the Board are held every two months in Washington, D.C. The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Its membership includes 13 citizens appointed by the President and 12 representatives from federal departments.

For further information, visit the Board’s website.


New wheels from CReATE!

July 20, 2015 by Sue Reeves

By Aubrey Taylor

Image of mom in wheelchair with two young sons.

Aubrey Taylor with her two young sons and her “new” refurbished wheelchair from CReATE.

I’m so excited to tell you the story of my wheelchair miracle, and why I’m so grateful for people in the world who care.

So when I originally bought a wheelchair (more than a year ago), we didn’t think I’d need it for very long so we got the cheapest one we could find off of good old Amazon. It did the trick, and I was certainly grateful to have it, buuut it was definitely nothing fancy. I had been holding off on buying a new one in hopes that I’d get better, so by this summer I was definitely past due for an upgrade! After Gordon turned one, and I had to keep up with two rowdy toddlers, we decided it was time to invest in a nicer chair. I met with my physiatrist again to get his thoughts, and he wrote up a wheelchair prescription for me.

And so my wheelchair hunt began! What an ordeal. I contacted my insurance to find out what they could do for me. They let me know what percentage of the price they could cover for a wheelchair, and gave me a list of some in-network wheelchair providers I could contact. I spent weeks and weeks researching, talked to multiple companies, had wheelchair fittings, played phone tag with way too many people, got a letter of medical necessity from my physical therapist, dealt with pushy salesmen and frustrating customer service reps, did the math with finances, got stressed out of my brains, started hunting eBay…. It was like 2 months of crazy stress and I was terribly discouraged. No matter what angle we looked at it, we were going to be paying at least $1500-$2000 to get a chair that would fit my needs, and that’s after insurance would cover their portion.

I was so upset. It wasn’t just for my own situation, but I was frustrated for every person who had to go through this terrible ordeal to be able to get the things they need in order to function in daily life. Your wheelchair is like your other leg. It’s important and you use it. People should be able to have a positive experience getting assistive technology, and not have to break the bank to get what they need.

Well, I learned that I’m not the only person who cares about this issue! My dear husband works for the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. It turns out, there’s a super awesome program based out of there, started specifically because of this problem I’m having. Someone cared enough to make things better.

Let me introduce you to CReATe: Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment.

CReATE is a non-profit organization that refurbishes donated mobility equipment and makes it available at a low-cost to Utahns with disabilities.

My husband talked to Clay Christensen, the lab coordinator of CReATE, about my situation, and Clay basically told him to stop everything we’re doing because he’s about to solve all of our problems. “We can get her a great chair to fit exactly what she needs. Do you think you could spare about $150?”

Jaws to the floor and tears in my eyes, YES. After stressing about the $2,000 number we were quoted, $150 is BEAUTIFUL. They told us they could refurbish a top of the line chair so it’s like new for me for that flat rate.

You can imagine the burden that was lifted off my shoulders at the end of this conversation. I was THRILLED. So we drove down to their location in Salt Lake City, and they were all just fabulous to work with! Tom Boman found me a chair that was just the right size and style, and fixed it up beautifully for me. A Quickie 2, the type of chair that was recommended to me by others and quoted to me at outrageous prices. We picked it up a couple of weeks later for the lovely promised rate of $150. He made sure I had everything I needed. The perfect seat height and width for optimal wheeling, a nice cushion, great wheels to suit my needs, the whole package. I’ve been wheeling around in it all week as if I got a brand new sports car!

Aubrey Taylor is a young mom from Hyrum, Utah, who acquired a disability following her second pregnancy. Read more of her story here.


URLEND, Utah Dept. of Health collaborate

July 17, 2015 by Sue Reeves

11377186_1511751225736086_95450381197849895_nA joint initiative between the Utah Department of Health and Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND), a project at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities warns of the dangers of cytomegalovirus, a dangerous virus that affects pregnant women and causes more long-term health problems for their babies than Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and neural tube defects.

According to the Utah Cytomegalovirus – CMV Public Health Initiative Facebook page, the group’s mission is to “Educate women of child-bearing age in Utah on the risks of cytomegalovirus (CMV) during pregnancy and to teach them strategies for CMV prevention.”

Visit the group’s Facebook page here to view 30- and 60-second public service announcements and to read more information about CMV.