High tech switches for power chairs–free training

March 5, 2012 by cpehrson

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training, Alternative Input & High Tech Switches for Power Mobility, on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. 
This free training, presented by Lisa Rotelli from Adaptive Switch Lab, will provide an overview of the designs and manufacturer’s products that allow individuals with disabilities to use computers, communicate, interface with their environments and achieve greater independence through powered mobility. ASL products use optical, electronic, mechanical, and proximity sensor switches to access an individual’s wheelchair and accessories.
Lisa Rotelli has worked in the wheelchair industry for more than 25 years. She is currently vice president of Adaptive Switch Lab and provides training nationally and internationally.
In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed internet access.   If you are interested in participating please RSVP by Friday, March 16, to Storee Powell via email storee.powell@usu.edu, or call 435-797-7412. Participant instructions will be emailed to you.
If you are a screen reader user please contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or sachin.pavithran@usu.edu,no later than Monday, March 19 to make arrangements to participate via phone. If you need any other accommodations in order to participate in the training please let Sachin know by this date also.
Please feel free to pass on this information to anyone that you think might be interested.

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Empowering Military Families

November 8, 2011 by cpehrson

Photo of an air force plane

Moving is a necessary and inevitable part of military life.  It can cause a lot of stress on families, but it can be an even greater challenge for families that have members with special needs.

A new guidebook is now available to military families who need special accommodations while they are preparing to travel and move into a new home. The pocket guidebook, titled “Traveling and Accessibility Tips for Military Families with Children with Special Needs,” was created to share with the families at Hill Air Force Base in Clearfield, Utah as a special needs resource.

“It will be a very useful tool for members of the military,” states Alma Burgess, evaluator for the Utah Military Family Support 360 project, an initiative at the CPD.  “Our hope is that when military personnel from HAFB relocate to other military installations, they will share the booklet and information that is in it to help other families who have members with disabilities.  We want other bases to customize it for their situation and make it work for their families.”

For now, the guidebook helps families at HAFB in planning for their specific needs when they travel– having enough medication, being prepared for any medical emergencies that could occur, looking for accessible restaurants and motels, traveling with a service dog, protecting a wheelchair, and many more tips.

It also gives suggestions for making sure that their next home will fit their family’s needs by looking at the accessibility of doorways, bathroom safety, and assistive devices for the home.  Specific modifications are listed for certain disabilities such as hearing, vision, cognitive, and mobility  impairments.

At the end of the booklet are some answers about where to find the resources they might need and where to get financial assistance to purchase them.

For more information about this booklet, contact Amy Notwell, program coordinator of the Utah Military Family Support 360 project.



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Baby powder: the latest assistive technology tool

August 17, 2011 by JoLynne Lyon

My dad has an iPad. He’s also got low vision. And for a few hours over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been trying to figure out how he can use his new technology. He’s taking advantage of the built-in speech function, but one of the most frustrating problems right out of the box was sticky fingers.

Dad’s fingertips wouldn’t slide easily over the touch screen. The device would talk to Dad, but he had a terrible time cruising over the icons because his fingers kept catching on the glass.

We were in the office at the CPD after hours last night, trying to figure out what to do, when he wondered aloud if a powdered substance might help. The Up to 3 program down the hall had some baby powder. I poured some onto a tissue, he dipped his fingers in it, and presto! Instant slide. Suddenly the screen was talking up a storm.

I’m not an expert, so I talked to Husband, an electronic engineer who works for a company that builds handheld devices. I asked him if  baby powder will hurt a touch screen. He didn’t recommend dropping the device into a vat of baby powder, but a little on the fingers shouldn’t hurt.

We’ve got other hurdles to go, but it was nice to find a one-step solution to sticky fingers.

Disclaimer: For the best care advice for your device, talk to the experts where you bought it. And remember, never use window cleaner or other chemicals on a touch screen. Polish it with a soft cloth that’s clean and dry, or use a cleaner that’s specifically made for touch screens.

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Mobile technology: is it hype or a revolution?

August 5, 2011 by JoLynne Lyon

Over the past few months, e-newsletters and RSS feeds have run over with stories about mobile technology and its implications for both education and special education. Every day there’s a new story about a tablet as a teaching tool.

Educational apps can resemble games, with built-in repetition and rewards for students who are trying to master a new concept. This is great not only for students, but also for special education students who can work on their own, at their own pace. Craig Boogaard, a technology support specialist for the Utah Center for Assistive Technology, said the app market is booming for devices of all brands.

The revolution may go beyond the school. Mobile technology may encourage some people to go online who have not done so before. People with disabilities have typically been slower than their peers to use the Internet. A Pew Research Center study found that among adults with a disability, 54 percent were Internet users, compared to 81 percent of those who did not report a disability.

Why the difference? Accessibility may be a complication, since using a computer without assistive technology may be so frustrating for some people with disabilities that it turns them off. Cost may be a big barrier: not only the price of the desktop, but also the price of the assistive technology required to make it work. Age may also play into it, since people with disabilities tend to be older that their peers, and thus they are less likely to be comfortable with new technology. (That’s a generalization, of course.)

Mobile technology may address some of these barriers. A tablet or smart phone is less expensive than a desktop. Some devices have accessibility features built-in. (The iPad, iPhone and iPod appear to be ahead when it comes to accessibility.)

In addition to features that make the device easier to use for people with disabilities, apps are available that transform a device into a mobile piece of assistive technology; one that can magnify print, scans labels in a grocery store, reads the dollar value of paper money or speaks for someone unable to talk. You can read a list of iPad 2 assistive technology apps on the Utah Assistive Technology Program blog–and more have probably become available since it was compiled.

This is all fine in theory, but how does it work in practice? If you are an educator, or a person with a disability who uses a device, or if you know someone who does, please leave a comment. It would be nice to know how mobile technology is working for real people in the real world.

Finally, there’s more information about mobile technology on our website.

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Remembering our friend and disability advocate Helen Roth

June 13, 2011 by cpehrson

The Center for Persons with Disabilities joins with others in the disability world in mourning the loss of one of the great disability rights advocates, Helen Roth, who passed away June 5, 2011 in Logan, Utah.

Helen was a good friend and advisor to those here at the CPD, always advocating to improve the lives of people with disabilities locally, as well as nationally.  She founded the Logan Options for Independent Living Center that encourages communities to become more accessible, an issue that Helen herself had to deal with throughout her life, having contracted polio as a child.  She spent her entire life in a wheelchair, advocating for others.

When Helen was around, there were no “ifs, ands, or buts” about where she stood on accessibility and rights for those with disabilities.  She held numberous key leadership and advisory roles in national disability organizations, becoming a dedicated advocate and inspirational friend to many.

The world will be a sadder place without Helen in it, but her legacy will live on in the work that she has accomplished and the kindness, passion, and inspiration that she shared.

A tribute to Helen Roth will be coming soon in the Who’s Who feature on the CPD website.

Other tributes to Helen can be viewed on the AAPD and NCIL websites.


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