Utah Act Early ambassador appointment

May 26, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Sue Olsen and Janel Preston

As Sue Olsen winds down her 2-year term as the Utah Act Early Ambassador, co-worker Janel Preston is gearing up to take the reins. Both women are part of the Up to 3 Early Intervention program at the CPD and have long histories in services and research with young children with disabilities.

The federal Act Early Ambassador project is designed to develop a network of state-level experts to improve early identification practices. Ambassadors  serve as state liaisons to the CDC “Learn the Signs Act Early” initiative and work as community champions with programs that serve young children and their parents.

“We’re working to increase early identification of young children with developmental disabilities, including autism,” said Olsen. “Currently we have a high focus on autism because of the high numbers of children in the state with that condition.”

During her term, Olsen’s goals included development of customized materials in both English and Spanish outlining developmental milestones for various Utah early intervention agencies. Another accomplishment was embedding the “Learn the Signs Act Early” guidelines in orientation materials and personnel training in the Utah BabyWatch program. According to Olsen, this will result in autism identification training for all Utah early intervention personnel during their credentialing process.

As Preston steps in the role, she plans to build on the progress that Olsen has accomplished during the past 2 years, expanding autism identification training into more personnel prep programs. She and Olsen have discussed the possibility of embedding identification information in training for child care providers. Preston also wants to facilitate more involvement with the medical community, hoping to include more doctors in early identification of autism.

“I’m trying to work first with Dr. Odell (CPD Medical Director) to see how we can do more training for the medical community,” said Preston. “I’m hoping this will result in more identification in rural areas. A lot of the information we have doesn’t get out to all areas in our state right now.”

Olsen is the CPD Exemplary Services director with a long history in various early childhood services and projects. She lists her primary goal as ensuring that all services provided by the Exemplary Services Division support and enhance a family’s or individual’s capabilities and self-determination. Preston is the lead teacher in the ABC  classroom in the Up to Three Early Intervention program. This class is for families who have a child with a Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis or are in the process of getting a diagnosis.

The CPD is proud to have such capable and enthusiastic representatives working to improve life for children and families in Utah.

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Outstanding authors

May 16, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Dr. Cyndi Rowland, Jonathan Whiting, Jared Smith

A recent publication by Dr. Cyndi Rowland, Jonathan Whiting, and Jared Smith was awarded the “Outstanding Author Contribution” in the 2016 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.

The cited chapter, entitled “What do you need to create and maintain web accessibility?”  was published in Accessible Instructional Design, Advances in Special Education Technology. It shares the expertise of the WebAIM team and outlines key factors for developers, designers, and content creators, as well as administrators to support enterprise-wide accessibility.

The Emerald Literati Awards celebrate and reward outstanding contributions of authors and reviewers to scholarly research. Awards are presented to highly cited papers from all publishers.

WebAIM has operated at the CPD for over 16 years, and has served clients around the world in all sectors of society including government, non-profit, education, business, and health care. Their mission is  “to expand the potential of the Web for people with disabilities by providing the knowledge, technical skills, tools, organizational leadership strategies, and vision that empower organizations to make their own content accessible to people with disabilities.” WebAIM offers many services including training, site evaluation, accessible site design, and consultation.

Below is an excerpt from the cited chapter.

While it may be trite, it is true. The internet has changed our world in immeasurable ways. Across all countries and all sectors of society, the web has left an imprint. Few people can imagine a future without access to the internet (e.g., for education, commerce, employment, government, or entertainment); this includes browser-based access to the internet from a variety of hardware configurations including desk or laptop computers to tablets and smartphones….. 

Yet, there is a continuing struggle to provide educational web content to everyone. For those individuals with a disability affecting computer and internet use, thinking of a future without the web is all too easy. That is because they struggle now to fully access content on the web, even with assistive technologies that would allow them to do so. Barriers to internet access are generally the result of the design of web pages and applications. High-end designs, even those with embedded media, can be made accessible without substantial changes to look or feel. The promise of Universal Design for Learning will be impossible if instructional content is not accessible to all.

Click here to read the entire chapter: “What do you need to create and maintain web accessibility?”.



Farewell celebration for the CPD building!

May 4, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Grapic with splattered paint

Here’s your chance to create a work of art with spray paint on a brick wall without being arrested! Please join us in a final celebration of the Center for Persons with Disabilities building, scheduled for demolition near the end of May. This is a unique opportunity to have fun while supporting a great cause.

Cans of paint will be available for purchase for $10 each, and artwork will be photographed and shared on social media. Proceeds go towards funding programs and classrooms for children in the new Clinical Services Building, which will be constructed on the site of the original CPD building. All artists will be entered in a drawing for prizes, with one ticket allotted for each can of paint purchased. Prizes will be distributed throughout the duration of the event.

The Paint Party will be held on May 12, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Come channel your inner artist and help us remember the good times and the good works at the CPD over the last 44 years!

CPD pioneer, Dr. Wilbur “Bill” Thain, dies

May 2, 2016 by Kelly Smith

Thain performing a medical exam on a child, circa 1976.Dr. Wilbur “Bill” Thain died following a short illness on April 30, 2016. Thain was a member of the original committee that planned and established the Exceptional Child Center (ECC), which later became the Center for Persons with Disabilities. He was integral to the formation and development of the Center, and he served as its first medical director for 13 years.

Thain also had a private practice in Logan, Utah, and delivered over 3,000 babies in 30 years. He loved working with children with special needs and was outspoken about improving opportunities for them.

When the ECC first opened, Thain conducted medical and neurological evaluations. In time, the medical program grew and began to offer more comprehensive services. The clinic Thain was developing began to treat large numbers of children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), a disorder that was widely misunderstood at the time.

Additionally, the clinic became increasingly multidisciplinary, a tradition that lives on at the Center to this day. Children received psychological services, physical therapy, and special education referrals as necessary. Speaking of the interaction between the school housed in the ECC and his medical clinic, Thain noted, “The school and the services at the ECC were truly unique. It had a different approach than medical institutions took to disabilities. It started a trend, at all centers nationwide, to emphasize education and psychology.”

In 2013, Thain was honored as the CPD Alumnus of the Year and recognized for helping shape the identity and reputation of the fledgling CPD, as well as for serving thousands of families and helping train numerous young interns. His decades of service had an enormous influence on individuals with disabilities and their families, not only in the immediate vicinity, but throughout the region. Without Thain’s medical expertise and guidance, the CPD’s distinctive and exemplary history of providing medical services to children and adults with disabilities may not have taken shape. His death at age 90 leaves a thriving legacy in the widely respected CPD Medical Division.

A viewing will be held on Monday, May 2, 2016, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Allen-Hall Mortuary, 34 E. Center St., in Logan and from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Benson LDS Church. The funeral will follow at 12 p.m. A complete obituary is available here. In lieu of flowers the family asks that you honor Dr. Thain with a gift to the CPD. Select “Department of” from the first drop down, then “Center for Persons with Disabilities” from the next drop down, or  make a check out to “CPD in memory of Dr. Thain” and mail your gift to:
     Center for Persons with Disabilities
     6800 Old Main Hill
     Logan UT, 84322

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