The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University
 

Screen Reader Survey results, fourth edition

June 1, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

Since 2009, the WebAIM team has worked to better understand web accessibility by surveying people who use screen readers. The results of their latest survey are out, and 93 percent of the respondents are people who use the technology because of a disability.

Among the findings:

The use of Apple mobile platforms is rising sharply among survey participants with disabilities, presumably because they find them more accessible.

Free screen readers are a viable alternative to commercial ones, according to 66.5 percent of respondents.

Web content has become more accessible over the past year, according to 35 percent of the people who responded. Forty percent said accessibility is unchanged, and 25 percent said it’s gotten worse.

For more on the survey–and to read the list of the web’s 12 most frustratingly inaccessible design problems–go to the WebAIM site and read the full results.

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March 15, 2012 is a starting point–not a deadline for ADA compliance

April 18, 2012 by cpehrson

small boy kneeling with a bowling ball ready to put it into the adapted bowling trackThe Americans With Disabilities Act aims to make all of society accessible to people with disabilities.  On March 15, 2012, new (2010) ADA accessibility standards went into effect. The Department of Justice set that as the compliance date where business, professional, and government buildings are put on notice that they should no longer have architectural barriers that would stop people with disabilities from entering and using what is in the building.

The 2010 ADA Standards are now the new accessibility standards of the land.  This date should be viewed as a “starting place” for compliance of the new standards .  All new construction and any alterations to existing facilities should begin utilizing the new standards. 

What is new in the standards is a special focus on places of recreation — including all gyms, bowling alleys, boating docks, swimming pools, amusement parks, fitness rooms and golf courses, both full-size and miniature — which were not covered in the original law.

Pools, for example, must have two means of entry for disabled people. Lifts are the easiest solutions for small pools; larger pools can have sloped entries and grab-bar-equipped access routes called transfer walls.  Golf courses must become wheelchair accessible.  Playgrounds should have ramps and be covered with fibar,  engineered wood fibers that knit together to form a surface soft enough to cushion falls, yet firm enough for wheelchairs.

Everyone needs to be able to take part in fun indoor and outdoor activities.  Being in a wheelchair, having a vision impairment, or being developmentally disabled should not prevent someone from participating along with everyone else.  There are many organizations that recognize this great need, and provide accessible activities and events year round.

Locally in Cache County Utah, the  Common Ground Outdoor Adventures organization schedules many outdoor activities that are accessible to everyone, providing adaptive equipment if needed to make sure that all can participate.

Many community recreation programs now include adaptive sports and activities in their programs.  The Logan Parks and Recreation Center sponsors several activities for those with disabilities who live in Cache County, such as the TOP Sports program for children and youth, and the Adapative Aquatics summer program. 

Camp Kostopulos Dream Foundation provides recreation opportunities for individuals ages seven and up with mental or physical disabilities.

Wasatch Adaptive Sports provides affordable recreational and educational programs for children and adults with special needs. Programs operate year round to build strength, stamina and self-esteem while enhancing the quality of life for all participants.

Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in 17 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness and participate with other Special Olympics athletes.
 
All recreational venues are now mandated to make their facilities available to all people, no matter what their disability. Though the Justice Department is responsible for ADA compliance, there are no ADA “police.” It’s up to individuals to report ADA violations. In Utah, the Disability Law Center and Disabled Rights Action Committee are available to help assure the rights of people with disabilities.
 
All people have the right to play and have fun in any community activitiy that is available.  Here’s hoping for a fun-filled, active summer for each of you! 
 
 

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Outdoor job opportunities with the Utah Conservation Corps

April 16, 2012 by cpehrson

crew repairing a hiking trail

 

During the spring, summer, and fall, the Utah Conservation Corps sends crews of 4–8 AmeriCorps members to conduct trail and restoration projects in Utah national parks and forests. As a UCC AmeriCorps crew member, you can find yourself anywhere from the desert silence of Utah’s red rock country to the remote alpine wilderness of the Wasatch mountains

 

The Utah Conservation Corps (UCC) is seeking 4 AmeriCorps crew members to serve on the 2012 survey crew.  Crew members will conduct accessibility surveys of trails, campgrounds and facilities within the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest and work closely with the Forest Service to develop transition plans and make changes on the ground.  The crew will document such things as picnic table dimensions and trail width/slope according to ABA (Architectural Barriers Act) standards.  Crew members will enter survey data into a U.S. Forest Service database for use by the agency and the public.

They are especially looking for at least one crew member who uses a wheelchair, since wheelchair accessibility is one of the standard criterias used in the surveys. 

AmeriCorp crew members are paid positions through the Utah Conservation Corpsstart and go from June 4 through November 2, 2012.

For more information about these job opportunities, contact Kate Stephens, Program Director, Utah Conservation Corps, (435) 797-8135.

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CPD 40th Event–Movie Showing: Blindsight

April 2, 2012 by cpehrson

Poster showing a man standing at the top of a peak with both arms raised high.

 

 

The Utah Film Center and the Center for Persons with Disabilities are sponsoring a showing of the movie Blindsight on April 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Taggert Auditorium at Utah State University. This free showing is being offered as part of the CPD 40th Anniversary Celebration to spread awareness and information about disability issues.

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Himalayas, Blindsight follows the gripping adventure of six Tibetan teenagers who set out to climb the 23,000 foot Lhakpa Ri on the north side of Mount Everest.A dangerous journey soon becomes a seemingly impossible challenge made all the more remarkable by the fact that the teenagers are blind.
 
 
 
 
 
Believed by many Tibetans to be possessed by demons, the children are shunned by their parents, scorned by their villages and rejected by society. Rescued by Sabriye Tenberken – a blind educator and adventurer who established the first school for the blind in Lhasa, the students invite the famous blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer to visit their school after learning about his conquest of Everest. Erik arrives in Lhasa and inspires Sabriye and her students Kyila, Sonam Bhumtso, Tashi, Gyenshen, Dachung and Tenzin to let him lead them higher than they have ever been before. The resulting 3-week journey is beyond anything any of them could have predicted.
 
The Utah Film Center brings the world of film to local audiences through free community screenings and discussions, outreach programs, and visiting artists and professionals. They collaborate with various educational and community organizations to promote a diversity of ideas, to provide forums for underrepresented groups, and to develop new audiences for film.

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CPD Legacy Story: Low-interest loans bring independence

March 30, 2012 by cpehrson

A year ago, Colleen Cobia and her husband were not thinking about remodeling their Layton home.  But after an unfortunate horse riding accident last summer, Colleen found herself using a wheelchair and living in a house that was very difficult to move around in.  They knew that, in order for her to maintain her independence and be able to continue to take care of her family,  many changes would have to be made.

Not quite sure where to turn first, Colleen’s husband, who works for the Department of Services for People with Disabilities, remembered hearing of some low-interest loans that were available to persons with disabilities who need to purchase assistive technology that will allow them to be independent, productive and successful.

And that is just what Colleen needed to become.

While Colleen was still in the hospital,  her husband make a quick phone call to Zion’s Bank that started the process for applying for a remodeling loan through the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation. The UATF partners with Zion’s Bank for low-interest loans to purchase not only assistive technology devices, but home modifications, adapted vans, and home-based employment equipment.  Once the application was completed over the phone, and eligibility was confirmed, all the Cobia’s needed to do was go down to the bank and sign the papers. Couldn’t be easier.

With the money they received through their UATF loan, the Copia’s were able to completely remodel their kitchen, lowering the counter tops and installing a stove top and sink that allow a wheelchair to roll underneath. They widened all of the doorways, expanded walls, and built a ramp into the house.  They built a master bedroom and bath downstairs that had a roll-in shower and sink, and expanded the laundry room so Colleen could still use the washer and dryer.  They also had enough money to build an elevator shaft connecting to the second story, but will need to add the actual elevator in the future.

Thanks to the efficient application process for the UATF loan, excellent contractors, and great neighbors and friends who volunteered their services, the Copia’s were able to move into their new, almost fully accessible house within five months of the accident.  Colleen now has regained her independence and can keep on doing the things she loves to do for her family, like cooking the meals and keeping the laundry caught up.

The Utah Assistive Technology Foundation loans have changed many lives through the years.

Woman in a wheelchair with husband and child beside her

The Davis family

Another individual who had received an UATF loan years ago to install an elevator in her home, was in need of a new accessible van.  Muffy Davis once again filled out the Eligibility and Application forms online. The completed application forms were reviewed by the UATF, found eligible, and then forwarded to Zions Bank for the loan approval.  The whole process was approved in three days and all Muffy had to do was go down and sign the papers at the bank.  The money was in her hands within the week.

 

 

 

Muffy ended up purchasing a used van from a friend that already had hand controls installed.  Her old van  had seen a lot of wear and tear from transferring her wheelchair in and out.  With the new van, she can just roll her wheelchair in without even breaking it down.  It not only saves wear and tear on the van, but on her shoulder as well.  She now has total independence once again.

light green van

Muffy's accessible van.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another life improved because of the UATF program.

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