Dickeys’ DSL Scoop: July 2017 Edition

July 31, 2017 by JoLynne Lyon

photo of Sara and Ryan

Sara and Ryan Dickey are our new bloggers as DSL

Here at the Developmental Skills Lab we have a NEW blog tag team.  They are Ryan and Sara Dickey! No, they aren’t married but they are brother and sister!  Sometimes they ACT like brother and sister too!  Here is a quick bio:

Ryan- Ryan is 37 years young and has lived in Cache Valley for years.  He has been at DSL for the past year and a half.  Ryan lives in Nibley with his aunt and uncle.  Ryan has a job at Malouf in Nibley.  He has worked there about a year.  He works two days a week.  Ryan’s favorite part of his job is sweeping.  Ryan has an infectious positive attitude and loves to help everyone!  His favorite activities at DSL are going on outdoor adventures, going to movies, and cooking!  Ryan is so excited to report on the goings on here at DSL. (Note: we’re including a video of Ryan and his co-workers at Malouf in Logan.)

Sara- Sara is an independent working woman who also works at Malouf.  Sara works three days a week.  Her favorite part of her job is wiping off the tables in the cafeteria.  Sara lives in a group home and enjoys being independent.  Sara likes to color, cook, shop, go to movies, swimming, and participating in Special Olympics.  She has also been at DSL for a year and a half.  Sara’s favorite thing at DSL is to go shopping for supplies and cooking.  Sara is a friend to everyone!

This month in July we were very busy!  We were able to celebrate seven birthdays- that’s a lot of cake!! We had a big 4th of July bash on the 3rd– we had hamburgers and hot dogs and lots of fun.  We were also able to go swimming several times this month at Logan Aquatic Center and the HPER building.  We were able to improve our cooking skills by making many yummy healthy recipes including black bean salsa.  Our garden is growing and we hope that we can make some salsa with our very own tomatoes.  We also did many fun activities with Common Ground.  We did Dutch oven cooking, cycling, and a trip to Stokes nature center.  We also went to the movies and saw Despicable Me 3 and had a great time!  We also had taco day for our Becca (staff) who is moving to Boston on her new adventure.  We will miss her.  Good Luck Becca!  We also lived through the painters painting the rooms down the hallway- it looks so fresh and clean now!! We hope everyone had as much fun in July as we did here at DSL!

Interview with a SKI-HI alumnus

July 26, 2017 by JoLynne Lyon

Andy signs in front of a big screen.

Andy talks to a friend via technology, which helps him read and communicate.

Blogger’s note: I “met” Andy Prouty via an email interview while working on a story for Utah State Magazine about the CPD’s SKI-HI Institute, and its contributions to education for deafblind children. (USU alumni, watch your mailboxes for that story in August!) Andy was born with hearing loss and very limited vision in one eye. His family came to Utah in the 1980s to take advantage of intervener services made available through SKI-HI. Interveners work one-on-one with children with impaired vision and hearing, similar to the way Anne Sullivan worked with Helen Keller.

When he was three, Andy and his father testified before the Utah Legislature about the need for teachers trained to work with children who had both sight and hearing impairments.

Since then, SKI-HI’s mission has evolved and its influence has spread nationwide. The Prouty family has moved to other states, and now they reside in Minnesota. In this email interview, Andy reflects on those early days of his education in Utah, the higher education he is pursuing now, the technology he uses and the milestones that led to the independent life he enjoys today.

Q: What was your early schooling like? Did you spend most of your time at school, or at home? (Note: Some children with sensory impairments went–and still go–to residential programs while they are young.)

My parents knew it was important for me to have direct access to communication, so I went to schools that had programs for the Deaf. I had teachers who were either Deaf or fluent in sign language. I lived at home with my family and did not live in a dorm.

Q: Do you use technology to communicate or shop at a store? Do you have go-to gadgets?

Yes, I have different technology to allow me to communicate with people around me. At work, I use a one-on-one device called UbiDuo. This device has a pair of keyboards with screens on each. When one person types something on the first screen, the text would be instantly sent to the second screen on the keyboard. This allows me to communicate smoothly with a hearing person. In stores, I use my iPhone, mostly to ask workers to help me find what I am looking for.

Q: Tell me about your first job. How did you feel about working when it was still new to you?

When I was 16 years old, I was a dishwasher at a bakery in my community. At that time, I had a dream of becoming a baker, so thought that job would get my foot in the door. After about five years of repeated requests to work as a baker, it finally came out that the baker was illiterate and would not be able to communicate with me. I normally communicated with hearing people using a pen and pad of paper, but this person couldn’t spell or read, so that was very ironic.

Q: Tell me about your current job.

I have worked as a mail clerk for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 15 years. However, as people are communicating more and more through electronic means, I am not as busy as I once was. I tried out some administrative assistant duties, but my low vision made it hard for me to catch every detail necessary. Once I receive my degree, I know it will open new doors for me.

Q: What was it like to move away from home?

I had mixed feelings. I was worried that I might not have enough money, but on the other hand, I was thrilled to live on my own and can do anything I want to do! I’ve been living in my own apartment for almost 11 years. The location is perfect because I am close to restaurants, banks, stores and my favorite, Target.

Q: How do you feel about gaining a higher education?

I feel good. I am willing to take challenging classes in order to receive a BA degree in order to qualify for a better job in my current career. I am now a senior at Metro State University [in Minnesota], where I plan to finish my bachelor’s degree in 2018.

Q: What are you studying, and what are your career aspirations?

I am majoring in an individualized degree in communication and culture. Since I already have 15 years of experience in the federal government, I would like to transfer to a position like human resources, where I can use my degree.

Q: What advice would you give other young people who are deafblind, who are planning their own careers and independence?

I could suggest to young people to go to a summer transition program where they can learn and practice independent living skills, mobility skills and practice on a job before moving on into the real world.

Q:What would you like the world to know about people who are deafblind?

I would like the world to view deafblind people as equals. We might have disabilities, but we still can do everything with modern technology and services. Don’t assume that deafblind people need help without asking.



Logan, Uintah Basin AT labs have both beefed up their demonstration libraries

July 17, 2017 by JoLynne Lyon

photo of Clay and devices

Clay Christensen displays a personal electronic assistant device and modular hose: examples of high- and low-tech AT.

People at the CPD’s AT Labs hear it all the time: disability can be expensive.

They want to help. The AT labs, which are part of the CPD’s Utah Assistive Technology Program, offer a demonstration library, stocked with items that people can try before they buy. This saves families the expense of buying item after item and discovering it doesn’t quite fit the need.

The demonstration libraries in Logan and the Uintah Basin now have some now, hot technology, including Liftware utensils for people with tremors or contractured hands; voice-activated, electronic personal assistants (Chrome and Alexa), iPads loaded with apps for all kinds of disabilities, and much more.

Here’s a more complete look at AT available for Utahns to try at both AT Labs:

Demonstration library inventory

Most items can be “checked out,” and all can be demonstrated at the AT Labs in Logan and Roosevelt. For more information contact Clay Christensen (Logan) or Cameron Cressall (Roosevelt).



Augmentative and alternative communication software for both Apple and personal computers, including Boardmaker

iPads loaded with AT apps (Augmentative and alternative communication, reading and comprehension aids, specialized apps for people with vision, hearing or motor loss)

Liftware eating utensils

Mobility devices

Programs and assistive devices for people who have difficulties using a mouse or keyboard, including JAWS and  Dragon

Smart pens

Vehicle adaptions

Voice-activated electronic assistants (Alexa and Chrome)


Adapted eating utensils & a feeding kit; includes custom-made, adapted silverware

Daily living aids

Mobility devices

Modular hose (used for mounting devices, Logan lab only)

Custom-made AT (can also be made on request, usually for the cost of materials)



A day in the life of DSL

July 3, 2017 by JoLynne Lyon

Marla smiles


Heidi used to give us monthly updates from the Developmental Skills Lab. Then she moved. We miss her, and we’re working on a replacement, but for the time being here’s a look at DSL life in the summer.

It involves a lot of fingernail polish. Marla was grinning while I admired her newly-done manicure. “Beautiful,” she said.


photo of Marla

Marla displays some glittery fingernails.

The DSL common room has  a wall filled with completed puzzles. These are mostly the work of Judy, who loves the art of puzzle assembly. And math. And puzzles. (The photo does not begin to show all the puzzle wall art she has done.)

Photo of Judy in front of puzzles.

Judy sits in front of her work.


Sara reads.

“I like it here,” Sara said. “I like reading. I like doing puzzles. Puzzles and coloring.” She also enjoys her computer time. “Sometimes I check my emails,” she said. When she’s not at DSL, she’s working at Malouf as a janitor. “I like making good friends.”


Reed with a book.

Reed loves Yahtzee. It’s his favorite game.


photo of Julie

Julie works out.

Julie likes art and working out.

photo of Lupita

Lupita at work.

Lupita enjoys working on Spanish. “I like to talk to friends,” she said. She also enjoys yoga, push-ups, and swimming.

Stay tuned for more updates from DSL!