Holiday closures

December 21, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon


The CPD offices are closed Dec. 26-28 and January 2. Clinics close Dec. 22 and re-open January 3. Enjoy your holiday, everyone!

CAC Corner: Accessing Utah’s arts is easier for people with disabilities than you think!

December 16, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon

view of a stageBy Wendy Hassan, Consumer Advisory Council member from the Cache Valley Center for the Arts.

A higher percentage of Utahns attend performing arts events than any other state, and we are second in the nation for attending arts exhibits. There are plenty of opportunities, especially around the holidays, and many of them are free. For example, in Cache Valley in December there are more than a dozen free concerts at the Logan Tabernacle. Many schools have excellent choir and orchestra concerts that would be enjoyed by more than the families of the students.

Access to the arts for people with disabilities may be easier than you think. All arts organizations that apply to the Utah Division of Arts and Museums for funding need to articulate how they are helping individuals of all abilities have meaningful access to their programming.

Individuals with disabilities have performed with Logan Youth Shakespeare, Cache Children’s Choir and many other organizations. Some arts organizations specialize in serving individuals with disabilities, such as Salt Lake’s Art Access/Very Special Arts program. Here in Logan, Valley Dance Ensemble offers a “Limitless” class for individuals of all abilities and local artist Michael Bingham has worked to develop adaptive technologies for artists including a wheelchair that you can paint with. He even gave a TEDxUSU presentation on the subject.

Greater awareness of the needs of individuals with disabilities have led many performing arts groups to experiment with sensory friendly programming. The Kennedy Center’s goal in providing such performances is “to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families with children with autism or with other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities.” Accommodations may include lower sound and light levels, especially for startling or loud sounds or strobe lighting, space in the auditorium to stand or move around, designated quiet areas, smaller crowds and higher light levels in the audience (house lights).

Enjoy your favorite holiday traditions, or discover new ones, but regardless, may you have a safe and happy holiday season.

photo of tedxusu painting chair

Michael Bingham shows video of a wheelchair that allows its driver to paint in this TEDxUSU presentation. The chair was created with the help of the Utah Assistive Technology Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.



Policy will be a major focus for new CPD director

December 12, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon


A new director will come to the Center for Persons with Disabilities at the end of January 2017. Dr. Matthew Wappett approaches his new job with experience in leadership, policymaking, program-building and providing services to people with disabilities in the West.

“I’m a pretty collaborative leader,” he said in an interview earlier this month. “I like to work with what we’ve got.”

His duties at Utah State University will be surrounded by change. The inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump will likely have an effect on services nationwide. The health care and insurance systems will likely change, too, and all of that will affect people with disabilities.

Regardless of any changes to programs, Wappett said it will be important to safeguard services to people with disabilities, whether they are funded by federal, state or private programs. “If the federal role shrinks, people need to continue receiving the services that they need and that their families need to live full, productive lives,” he said.

With those issues in mind, Wappett expects policy to be a major focus for the CPD in the coming years. “We want to be the center of expertise in disability to policymakers and the community,” he said. He will focus on increasing the CPD’s profile, communicating its value to the public.

Disability services in Utah are like those in other western states, with a distinct rural/urban divide. People in cities have access to services, while those in remote areas may struggle to get them. “That is a real issue regarding service delivery and comprehensive supports,” he said.

The CPD faces change on a smaller scale, too. A new human services building is under construction on campus, and it will ultimately house many of the CPD programs. When it is complete, some CPD programs that are currently, physically located far from the building will move much closer to the rest of the CPD. Wappett said he would like to see a more cohesive culture, organization-wide. “It will be a collaborative process, and it will take a while,” he said.

Wappett’s background in disability includes a stint as an associate director of the Center on Disabilities and Human Development at the University of Idaho. He also founded and directed the interdisciplinary studies program there. Currently he co-directs the Confucius Institute at the U of I—an opportunity that came partly because he speaks Chinese. But while he has accomplished a lot at that program, he misses disability and looks forward to returning to it.

Assistive technology is an important issue to him; he hopes the CPD can remain engaged in “keeping abreast of technology, and figuring out innovative ways to keep people with disabilities involved in society.”

Postsecondary education and employment for students with disabilities are also big issues for him. It’s not just transition, he said; it’s what comes beyond it.

Dr. Wappett  begins as the new CPD director on January 25.

CPD welcomes new Child Care Nutrition Program director

December 9, 2016 by JoLynne Lyon

photo of Michael

Michael Diehl

The Child Care Nutrition Program welcomes its new director in January, following the retirement of its current director, Jeanie Peck.

It’s the changing of the guard in a program that quietly affected the lives of more than 13,000 of Utah’s children over the last budget year in the state of Utah—and as the CCNP grows, that number is likely to increase. The CCNP operates out of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University, as one of seven sponsors of the Child and Adult Care Nutrition Programs in Utah. It exists to ensure that children receive the healthy food that supports their brains and bodies as they grow.

“I have been working with your current director, Jeanie Peck, and your current monitor, Sonja Larsen, over the past several years,” Michael Diehl said in a letter to CCNP participants. “I am aware of the quality of work each of you put into your centers and homes to benefit children.” The father of three young children worked as a child nutrition specialist in the Utah State Office of Education before coming to Utah State University. He begins as the CCNP program director on January 3.

The work is important, he said. “The food program plays a large role, especially with the kids who are there all day, in giving them access to healthier meals. A lot of the kids are enrolled in those homes or centers pretty much all day, and those are 75 percent of the meals that they are going to be consuming all year.”

But eating healthy can be expensive, and day care is a notoriously low-paying profession. The cost makes it harder for providers to offer healthy meals and snacks. The CCNP offers training on healthy foods and reimburses participating providers according to Federal guidelines. It has provided reimbursements to licensed in-home day care providers in northern and eastern Utah for more than 20 years. In November, the program was able to add center-based programs to its workload. It is authorized to work with adult day care centers as weccnpillustration: "To find out more about the Child Care Nutrition Program, call 1-800-540-2169."ll.

Though nutrition for young children is vital, the program’s goals go beyond that, Diehl said. Staff members also want to help instill good habits that children will take with them throughout their lives. “We want to make sure we have a great working relationship with the providers, so they know they can call us and get the most current information and help from our staff. … The thing we want to do as a university is to have a really big educational piece.”

The education is needed because children and adults may have some misguided ideas about nutrition. “I think there’s a mentality that it has to be fresh produce to be nutritious. That’s not always true,” Diehl said. He also hopes to help people become better, more critical label-readers, because food manufacturers often claim their food is healthier than it really is.

While the CCNP is one of seven sponsors in Utah, it covers a large geographic area extending from Ogden north and encompassing all of Eastern Utah, as far south as San Juan county. As the program begins serving centers, it may also extend to those located in other parts of the state.

For more information on the Child Care Nutrition Program at Utah State University, visit their website.