Child Care Nutrition Program expands to new areas, serves more Utahns

November 20, 2017 by JoLynne Lyon

toddler girl eats an apple

Child nutrition is especially critical to youngsters in day care and preschool, when lifelong habits are being learned.

The Center for Persons with Disabilities’ Child Care Nutrition Program provided meals to 13,888 children in the last fiscal year. This year they are on track to serve even more, in even more parts of the state.

Director Michael Diehl wanted to both grow the program and emphasize its educational component when he started directing it in January. That’s happening now, he said, with new child care providers joining the program from Magna, Taylorsville, Murray, Herriman, Utah County and Price, Utah.

Overall, the program’s list of providers grew from 80 to 107. That’s good news to the children those providers serve. The CCNP fills a gap between providers, who work in a notoriously low-paying field, and child nutrition, which is especially critical to youngsters in day care and preschool. At a time when their brains and bodies are developing, they are often receiving 75 percent of their meals from a child care provider.

CCNP offers assistance to both home- and center-based child care providers to make nutritious meals affordable. It serves people in northern and eastern Utah. The program also educates its participants on nutrition, helping them to understand the difference between good nutrition and a well-crafted but possibly misleading label.

To find out more about the Child Care Nutrition Program, or to learn how to sign up, visit their website or call the number below.

"To find out more about the Child Care Nutrition Program, call 1-800-540-2169.




Judith Holt recognized for a lifetime of leadership

November 14, 2017 by Kelly Smith

In a room packed with colleagues, advocates, and family members at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Honors Celebration in Washington, D.C., Dr. Judith Holt was presented the George S. Jesien Distinguished Achievement Award on November 7. The award recognizes “a distinguished career of excellence and leadership in support of AUCD’s mission to advance policy and practice for and with people living with developmental and other disabilities, their families and communities”.

Jesien, a former AUCD Executive Director, presented the award in a powerful speech outlining Holt’s impressive achievements, stating “Judith Holt is a quiet leader whose full impact can only be seen by the tracks she has left throughout many states in this country, and the brilliant manner in which she has pulled together partners…. She has championed unserved, underserved, cultural and ethnically different groups, promoted students and created change for untold numbers of individuals.”

Judith Holt accepting the George S. Jesien Distinguished Service Award

Judith Holt accepting the George S. Jesien Distinguished Service Award

Holt’s career in the AUCD network spans decades, including time as the Associate Director at the University of Arkansas, 15 years as the Director of Interdisciplinary Training at the CPD, and a recent two-year stint as CPD interim Executive Director. She is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation at USU and is an adjunct professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah Medical School Health Sciences Center.

Jesien also cited Holt’s leadership in the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (URLEND) program which she helped establish in 2001 as a model multi-state LEND collaborative, providing LEND training across the rural West using a variety of training modalities and distance education tools to reach trainees and practitioners who would not otherwise have access to interdisciplinary training experience. For the past decade, Holt has served as the Co-Director of the URLEND program and her colleagues agree that the success and growth of the program is largely the result of her outreach efforts and ability to facilitate large interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students.

An anecdote submitted by current CPD director, Dr. Matt Wappett nominating Holt for the award tells the following story. “Judith originally had a background in early childhood, but her introduction to the UAP [currently UCEDD] system in the early ‘90’s forced her to take on a more flexible attitude. One of Judith’s initial assignments at the University of Arkansas was to support the very active independent living movement in the state. Judith’s first project was to work with Richard Petty and Mainstream, an advocacy‑oriented center for independent living in Little Rock, to orchestrate a protest of then Governor Bill Clinton’s proposed cuts to Medicaid in the state of Arkansas. She helped activists occupy Governor Clinton’s office and chain themselves to his desk. Judith was the go-between, and surreptitiously sneaked in food and water for the activists in her kids’ school backpacks for the duration of the protest. This experience became the jumping off point for Judith’s enduring commitment to the independent living movement.”

the first function of leadership is to produce more leaders and not just followers.

Referencing a quotation from Ralph Nader as the perfect description of Holt’s work, Jesien closed his remarks, “‘The first function of leadership is to produce more leaders and not just followers.’ Judith Holt has, and I hope will continue to leave a trail of new leaders everywhere she sets foot.”

During Holt’s acceptance speech, she took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of full inclusion, “I think the most remarkable thing I’ve learned in this network is how important the word ‘all’ is. All means all people, all ages, all races and ethnicities. It doesn’t just mean a select few…we are partners with all of the folks who are looking for the same kind of things in our lives, in community participation, and in happiness.”

Holt and George S. Jesien with award trophy. Second photo showing Holt onstage with an ASL interpreter during her acceptance speech.


Linda Keith honored for work as community volunteer

November 13, 2017 by JoLynne Lyon

photo of Linda Keith

Linda Keith is a volunteer with the Public & School Partnership at the CPD.

Linda Keith received the Lieutenant Governor’s Power of Service award last week. A longtime volunteer with the Senior & Community Volunteer Program, her spirit of service has touched the lives of many people in Cache Valley.

The award is given through the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to three Utahns a year.

Keith’s volunteer work suits her; she described herself as a natural “gabber” who enjoys talking to people whether she is delivering Meals on Wheels, staffing the store at Global Village Gifts or driving the Veteran’s Administration van.

Meals on Wheels requires its delivery volunteers to make contact with the people who receive the meals, Keith said. The conversation is optional, but if the person receiving the meal is game, so is she. As a world traveler Keith has seen the need for people in developing countries to bring in an income and be paid fairly for their work. Since Global Village is a Fair Trade Federation member, she knows the craftswomen who have made the wares sold in the store are paid fairly, and quickly. She is happy to donate her time to the cause.

She also drives the VA van, ensuring that veterans get to their medical appointments. She not only drives them to and from the VA hospital, but also waits for them until all the visits are done. “You never know how long it will be,” she said. “I love it when they get talking about their service.”

Photo of the Keiths and Cox

Linda and John Keith with Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox

Rodney Pack, the Senior & Community Volunteer Coordinator at the CPD, was delighted that Keith was recognized. “Linda is always willing to help,” he said. “She’s willing to try anything and step outside herself. She feels strongly about giving back.”

The Senior & Community Volunteer Program has recently moved its focus around education, with volunteer opportunities in selected schools, the Cache Refugee & Immigrant Connection, CAPSA, Bear River Head Start, Stokes Nature Center, the Utah Conservation Corps and Somebody’s Attic. For more information on volunteer opportunities available through the community and senior volunteer program, visit their website. For information on how you can help your local volunteers with their current coat drive, see the details below–and hurry, because the deadline is soon!

The Senior & Community Volunteer program is part of the Public & School Partnership in the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University.

Donate your gently-used coats Support your local Community & Senior Volunteers! Many families whose children attend Bridgerland Elementary have very modest income, and providing winter clothing is always a struggle. Gently used coats can be dropped off at these locations by Wednesday, November 15: • CPD on the USU campus • Bridger Elementary , 1261 N. 400 W., Logan • Senior Center at 240 N. 100 E., Logan Thank you for your help—and for caring about others!

CPD disability tech advocate: it’s time to talk about autonomous vehicles

November 3, 2017 by JoLynne Lyon

photo of car headlights painting long lines on a night road

“It is encouraging that the auto industry is continuing to engage us in the conversation,” says the CPD’s Sachin Pavithran. “But I hope people with disabilities are not left behind yet again.”

The day of the fully autonomous vehicle is approaching much faster than most people realize. Like other new technologies, it will be disruptive. Amid the many voices that are shaping the driverless future, Dr. Sachin Pavithran at the Center for Persons with Disabilities urges accessibility.

Pavithran said the fully-autonomous car will likely be on roads within five years. Indeed, much of the technology is available now. Autonomous and semi-autonomous cars are already being tested in several cities. “The whole debate is, how much are they paying attention to the accessibility interface?” asked Pavithran.

He has been involved in discussions about the upcoming technology, serving as a disability advocate in talks with industry leaders and policymakers. He chairs the National Federation for the Blind’s Autonomous Vehicles and Innovations in Transportation committee. Now, he said it is time for people with disabilities in their communities to join the conversation.

Manufacturing issues

“When the indicators are that fully autonomous vehicles are expected on our roads within the next five years, it makes me wonder why we haven’t seen a prototype of an accessible autonomous vehicle yet,” Pavithran said. “Conversations continue about making accessibility a priority when designing these vehicles. Promises are being made by the auto industry that autonomous vehicles will change the lives of all for the better, including people with disabilities. It is encouraging that the auto industry is continuing to engage us in the conversation. But I hope people with disabilities are not left behind yet again.”

The possibilities of driverless transportation are exciting. While Uber and Lyft have raised hopes that affordable, individual travel may soon be a reality for non-drivers everywhere, it hasn’t happened yet. Autonomous vehicles could open more opportunities by eliminating an enormous hurdle: a driver who is willing to travel roads where few passengers go.

“A lot of people with disabilities choose where they live and where they look for a job, based on transportation,” Pavithran said. He is the director of the CPD’s Utah Assistive Technology Program at Utah State University—and he is blind. While his travel schedule is rigorous, his independent movement is still somewhat restricted. “If I wanted to live in Garden City [Utah], that wouldn’t be an option for me,” he said. Transportation would be too great a challenge.

Driverless vehicles could change that. Disability advocates dream that tomorrow’s vehicles will roll off the assembly line, ready for people with disabilities to use: no wheelchair ramps or after-market adjustments required. Once fully autonomous cars are available, there is no reason blind people should not use them, Pavithran said. They could be configured so that a driver who was unable to safely operate a vehicle would not be able to do more than change the radio station once the car was in motion.

“Historically, accessibility has been a costly post-purchase vehicle modification for most people with disabilities, and nonexistent for the blind,” said Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind. He was quoted in a press release celebrating a meeting between the NFB and the Auto Alliance. He praised the gathering between people with disabilities, auto industry representatives, ride-sharing providers and policymakers as an exciting step in making accessibility a priority, not an “afterthought.”

Policy considerations

photo of Sachin Pavithran

Sachin Pavithran

Pavithran has met with policymakers, including US Transportation Secretary Elaine A. Chao, discussing the regulatory barriers the technology faces. A patchwork of state and federal regulations govern whether the cars should be allowed on roads. “Every state is issuing their own idea about how this is going to look in their state,” he said.

Indeed, 35 states either have considered or are considering legislation regarding autonomous vehicles. Utah is one of them.

Highways, licensing and safety regulations are often handled at the state level. Disability advocates want to make sure that when cars truly can drive people, those with disabilities will not face discrimination.

Infrastructure changes would also be needed, including a more robust data network for the driverless vehicles to access. Pavithran was quick to say that data could be handled wirelessly, and that it would only be one factor used by the cars to navigate. “There are a lot of sensors on the cars, and every manufacturer is trying different approaches. …The data is just one piece.”

Consumer resistance

A further barrier is resistance from consumers. A 2017 survey from AAA found that 78 percent of drivers were nervous about riding in a fully autonomous vehicle, despite assurances that when developed, the cars will be safer than their human-driven counterparts.

“Getting the public comfortable with the idea is going to be challenging,” Pavithran said.

Changes on the job landscape

He predicts that the first industries to adopt driverless technology will be ride share services, public transportation and delivery services—and that could mean lost jobs.

“There’s no stopping that,” said Pavithran. In the last century, horse-drawn vehicles became obsolete and the industry around them went away. Trains stopped being the primary source of transportation for people moving between cities. More disruption will occur because of autonomous vehicles, but the possibilities they bring could also mean increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities, who will no longer be tied down to life and work in urban centers.

“People need to start engaging in the conversation about what it means to the community, and what it means to them,” Pavithran said.

For him, it means an added freedom. With autonomous cars, “I could choose where I live.”