The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

The ADA’s influence on the field of telecommunications

April 23, 2015 by Sue Reeves

By Anna Tuckett, UATP social media intern

disability rightsOne of the things the Americans with Disabilities Act has done, is to allow for improvements to technologies that better the lives of people with hearing and
other communication disabilities by making them more accessible.

Since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, it has brought to the surface the changes necessary to make technology more accessible to people who have impaired speech or hearing.

Mitch Moyers, Outreach Specialist for the Utah Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, has years of experience helping people with hearing disabilities find resources.

“The ADA has helped people receive support when they otherwise wouldn’t,” Moyers said. “It has also brought the needs of people with impaired hearing to the public eye more and more.”

To further promote the recognition of people with hearing loss, the Utah Sanderson Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing helps people with impaired hearing to receive the assistive technology they need. From apps to hearing aids, they provide the resources necessary to give people opportunities for better technology.

“We are an open resource.” Moyers said. “We provide lists of agencies to help people find what they need, as well as training on how to use their assistive technology properly.”

Recently, technology has improved in many ways that have benefited people with disabilities, especially with smartphones, internet, etc.

“In the last 10-15 years, smartphones have made information much more accessible for people with hearing loss.” Moyer said. “With this has come even more of an incentive to help improve current software and technology.”

There are many hearing applications and technologies that have come from the expanding field of assistive technology development. The Americans with Disabilities Act has influenced the expansion of accommodations for people with communication disabilities by bringing recognition to the necessary improvements needed to make technology more accessible.


ADA celebrates 25 years

April 21, 2015 by Sue Reeves

By Anna Tuckett, UATP social media intern 

ada25After many years of providing people with disabilities with equal rights, this year the Americans with Disabilities Act is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The ADA became a law in 1990 and was the first law to establish a clear ban on discrimination on the basis of disability.

Sachin Pavithran, director of the Utah Assistive Technology Program, has worked to improve the rights for people with disabilities for many years with the help of
the ADA.

“The law ensures equal access,” Pavithran said. “It allows people with disabilities to have equal employment opportunities, as well as equal access to public areas and information.”

Allowing for equal employment opportunities among all job candidates has been an important contribution to the fight for equal rights for people with disabilities.

“Unless the person is unable to do the functions necessary for the job, under the ADA, the employer cannot deny employment based on disability alone.” Pavithran said.

In addition to preventing discrimination in the workplace, Title One of the act ensures persons with disabilities the necessary assistive technology needed to do their job.

“In Title One, it talks about the reasonable accommodations,” Pavithran said. “If accomodations can be provided, they should be.”

Although the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act is helping to improve the rights of people with disabilities, there are still plenty of problems to be solved and further legislation that can be passed to lessen discrimination.

“The ADA has been around for 25 years but is still not perfect,” Pavithran said. “More legislation can be passed to help persons with disabilities, we still have a long way to go.”



Free concert will be accessible to all

April 17, 2015 by Sue Reeves

dillonThe ‘Dreamers and Heroes’ concert, a fully accessible concert for music-lovers of all ages and abilities, will be presented at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 in the Kent Concert Hall on the Utah State University campus. Admission is free.

“There is nothing like hearing a live concert to energize the soul,” said Bryce Fifield, director of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. “Unfortunately, people with disabilities and their family members often don’t get the chance to attend live concerts. Sometimes the music is boring, goes too long, has ‘too many notes,’ or is too expensive. Sadly, many with disabilities often don’t feel welcome at these events.”

The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra is partnering with the Autism Council of Utah, and Utah State University’s Caine School of the Arts and Center for Persons with Disabilities to deliver the concert. This performance is being designed especially for audience members with disabilities.  The music will draw from the Chorus’ most popular performances of the past several years.  The selections will be fun, entertaining, and full of energy and excitement.

Faculty Fellows to be honored

April 15, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of David Feldon

David Feldon

The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University will honor its Faculty Fellows on Friday, April 17, from 3-4 p.m. in CPD 152. CPD Faculty Fellows are USU faculty members from various disciplines who conduct research and/or direct programs in collaboration with the CPD.

The CPD welcomes David Feldon, TEAL/STE2M, and Tyra Sellers, Special Education and Rehabilitation, as the 2015 class of Faculty Fellows.

Feldon is an associate professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences and director of the new STE2M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Education, Mathematics) Center at USU. His research examines two lines of inquiry that are distinct but mutually supportive. The first characterizes the cognitive components of expertise as they contribute to effective and innovative problem solving as well as how they affect the quality of instruction that experts can provide. The second examines the development of research skills within STEM disciplines as a function of instruction and other educational support mechanisms. He also conducts some research into technology-facilitated instructional approaches and research methods for examining them. He earned his Ph.D. in educational psychology and his M.S. in instructional technology from the University of Southern California, completed his postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA, and held tenure-track positions at the University of South Carolina, Washington State University, and the University of Virginia prior to joining the USU faculty.

Image of Tyra Sellers

Tyra Sellers

Sellers received her Ph.D. in Disability Disciplines–Applied Behavior Analysis from Utah State University in 2011 and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She is an assistant professor and the director of the Utah Behavior Support Clinic (UBSC).  Through the UBSC, she and her team provide assessment and intervention services for individuals with severe problem behavior at the university-based clinic, as well as in homes and schools across the state. She earned a B.A. in Philosophy and M.A. in Special Education from San Francisco State University, and J.D. from the University of San Francisco. Sellers has more than 20 years of clinical experience working with individuals with disabilities, spanning from EIBI through adult services.  Her research interests include behavior variability, choice, functional analyses, and behavioral interventions.  She is an active member of UtABA and an approved provider for the Utah Professional Development Network (UPDN).

Feldon and Sellers join Lori Roggman and Lisa Boyce (FCHD), Robert Morgan, Jared Schultz, Tim Riesen, Lillian Duran, and Tom Higbee (SPER), Sydney Schaefer (HPER), Gretchen Peacock (Psychology), Damon Cann (Political Science), Chris Davies (Veterinary Science), Ryan Bosworth (Applied Economics), Heidi Wengreen (NDFS), Christopher Gauthier (Photography), Maureen Hearns  (Music Therapy) and Raymond Veon (Arts Education) as CPD Faculty Fellows.


Aggies Elevated to be subject of documentary

April 13, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of visitor and student.

Filmmaker Ben Stamper observes during a recent Aggies Elevated class.

A documentary filmmaker from New York City will be at Utah State University the week of April 20 to document the Center for Persons with Disabilities’ Aggies Elevated program.

Ben Stamper visited the campus recently to learn more about the program, and spent a day with the students and program staff. Stamper learned about Aggies Elevated through Beth Foley, dean of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Foley is also acting as associate producer of another film he’s creating about an artist on the autism spectrum.

“I’m excited about this project,” Stamper said. “It seems like a good fit for me to make, after seeing what you’re doing out here. My goal is to create a dialogue, and ultimately to expect more from people with disabilities. Disability is only a small section of this life. It doesn’t define who they are or what they’re about. We need to instill respect for people by seeing their perspective … Respect and dignity is at the heart of it.”

Stamper envisions a student-centric approach to filming.

“It will really be from the students’ perspective–why they’ve come here and what they’re getting out of it, rather than the type of approach that promotes what it is from everyone else’s perspective,” he said.

During his recent visit, Stamper sat in on a meeting between Aggies Elevated student Jenna and her mentor, Shelby Foster, and was impressed with the amount of information that was covered.

“They talked about four or five different areas, from social strategies to schedules to homework to accountability with health habits, to life goals and planning for extracurricular activities,” he said. “I was impressed with Shelby–she really had a handle on providing accountability with no judgment. She told Jenna, ‘the important thing is that you’re honest with yourself.’ It was more the spirit of ‘this is important to do for yourself.’”

Stamper’s visit showed him the program’s expectations for the students always push them outward.

“(Staff) provide support, but real challenge,” he said. “That’s how any of us learn. This is not failure. As a parent, the hardest thing to do is to stand back and watch a child fail. Aggies Elevated provides something that’s very different than a parent can provide in a home environment. I imagine this transforms (the parents’) view and approach of parenting as well.”

For more information on Stamper and his work, click here.