Strengthening family caregivers

November 28, 2011 by cpehrson

Adult woman, blonde hair, kneeling beside a young boy in a wheelchair

This month, National Family Caregivers Month, we have been talking about family caregivers and the kinds of support that they need in order to continue to provide this valuable service for a loved one.

Many caregivers go without supportive services that could help reduce the challenges of providing care.  Our last family caregiver blog outlined some of the resources and supports that are available to caregivers.

Another source of support for family caregivers comes in the form of assistive technology and home modifications.

Assistive technology includes mobility devices like canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, to help someone who has trouble getting around. There are AT devices to help people with limited hand or arm function remain independent, such as an adaptive lever for a reclining chair, or a built up handle on a utensil. Communication AT is available for people who have difficulty speaking; they range from simple picture word cards to more sophisticated devices for electronic technology.  Other AT is available for people with limited hearing or vision.

Many adaptive devices can be customized to meet the needs of the individual.

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) at the CPD specializes in working with individuals and creating  AT devices that answer a specific need.  The AT lab staff have built everything from wheelchair lifts for cars, a standing device so a six-year old can balance and play his Wii Fit, to a latch stimulation board for Alzheimer patients at a local nursing home.

According to Clay Christensen, AT Lab Coordinator, “That is what we are all about at the Assistive Technology Lab, changing lives for the better.”

Home modifications can be made as a person’s health and ability declines.  These can include grab bars and shower seats, as well as portable ramps for wheelchairs or electric scooters.  Hospital beds, commodes, and incontinence supplies can also be obtained from a healthcare supply store.

Financial help is possible through various programs to help with AT equipment or home modifications.  The Utah Assistive Technology Foundation at the CPD partners with Zion’s Bank to provide low-interest loans to help people acquire the equipment and make the modifications that they need.

As family caregivers become aware of the many resources that are available to them, they will find the supports that they need to continue to care for their loved one.

We take our hats off to those family caregivers who make life easier for their loved ones.

This is the last in a series of four blogs about the role and services provided by family caregivers across the nation.

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Low-interest loans help Utahns with disabilities

October 28, 2011 by cpehrson

Many people with disabilities need equipment or assistive technology that is very costly.  Some cannot afford to purchase them and do without things that would make their lives easier or increase their independence.

The Utah Assistive Technology Foundation offers a solution for them.

UATF is a private, non-profit organization that works with Zions Bank to provide low-interest loans to people with disabilities who live in Utah. The UATF offers a variety of loan options, depending on the need of the applicant.

Examples of assistive technology loans ranging from $500 to $50,000 include: adapted vans, hearing aids, home/work modifications, braille equipment, scooters/wheelchairs, and modified computers.

UATF also offers agricultural loans to farmers with disabilities who may need equipment or adaptations in order to remain independent and productive.

Another loan option helps makes it possible for individuals with disabilities to work from their home.  A telework loan may be approved for a qualified Utah resident with a disability to begin a new telework or telecommuting job for an employer, remain employed in an existing telework job, or to start or expand their own business.

Over the years, the UATF has been able to help hundreds of Utahns with disabilities of all ages obtain loans and grants to purchase the assistive technology that allows them to be independent, productive and successful at home, at school, at work and in the community.

UATF changes lives:

“We were so excited when we learned of this funding source and that our bathroom modifications would qualify for funding.  What a lifesaver!  We love how it has improved our son’s life!  Thank you!”

“I could not have come up with the money without this program.  In fact, finances are why I have gone  without hearing aids for at least 20 years.”

To read about how a small UATF business loan helped out a family, go the the Utah Assistive Technology Program blog.

Independence is priceless. UATF can help make it affordable.

To find out more about how to apply for a UATF loan, visit their website.

UATF is part of the Utah Assistive Technology Program, an initiative of the CPD.

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iPad basics – online training

September 19, 2011 by cpehrson

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Nathan Smith, director of technology for the College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University, will present:  iPad Basic Training.

This FREE training sponsored by the UATP will focus on iPad basics – what you need to know to get started using the iPad right out of the box.  It will cover topics such as getting started with your iPad, working with apps, using gestures, using the virtual keyboard, using multimedia, and more.  You’ll be introduced to apps that can make your iPad an indispensable tool that you’ll always keep by your side.  You’ll also learn how to use the built in features for those with disabilities.

In order to participate, you will need a computer with high-speed internet access. If you are interested in participating please RSVP by October 3 to Storee Powell via email, or call 435-797-7412.  Instructions will be emailed to you.

If you are a screen reader user please contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or no later than October 3 to make arrangements to participate via phone or for other accommodations needed in order to participate in the training.


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CPD staff member sits on national AT board

August 29, 2011 by JoLynne Lyon

Sachin Pavithran

Sachin Pavithran is a new member of the Association of Assistive Technology Act Program Board. He will continue with his duties at the CPD in addition to serving with ATAP.

The association is a membership organization for Technology Act programs funded by the US Department of Education. Every state has its own AT program that exists to put assistive technology into the hands of people who need it. Assistive technology is any device—low- or high-tech—that makes independence easier.

Sachin has been heavily involved in assistive technology at the Center for Persons with Disabilities. He is the Assistive Technology Specialist and the Disability Law and Policy Coordinator at the CPD.

His term begins on October 1. He was elected by representatives of the assistive technology programs around the United States. One of his duties will be to do some legislative work to prepare for the reauthorization of the Assistive Technology Act.

The board also works to help programs share information, enter partnerships and keep abreast of issues related to assistive technology.


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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