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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Mobility independence is at your finger tips

May 13, 2011 by cpehrson

If you are looking for a mobility device to give you more independence AND would like to keep the cost down, there is a wonderful place in Salt Lake City that offers just that.

The Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment (CReATE) refurbishes mobility assistive technology and makes it available to people who need AT at a low cost.  CReATE staff describe more about how the CReATE program works in this video.

The process is easy, just contact them at 801-887-9398 and make an appointment to assess your needs.  After that it is just a matter of filling out the paper work, waiting until the type of device you need is available, and paying the minimal amount for it.  Financial help is also available if needed.

To see the current inventory of power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, and power scooters, you can go to the CReATE website, scroll down and click on their inventory list.

Don’t wait.  Independence is just a phone call away.


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Brown Bag Discussions: Audience wowed by iPad apps

May 12, 2011 by cpehrson

The staff at the CPD were astounded last week by the the number of apps that would help people with developmental disabilities that are now available for the Apple producats iPad2, iPhone, and iPod.

The presentation was made at the monthly CPD Brown Bag Discussion led by Clarissa Barnhill, AT Lab Coordinator, and Sachin Pavithran, AT Program Coordinator, from the Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP).  Interest was high as they demonstrated one after another of the latest apps that could be used by individuals of all ages and of all ability levels.

Here are some of the highlights:

Did you know there is an app that can verbally name close to 8000 symbols that are found in everyday life just by a simple touch on the screen?  ( Proloquo2Go™)

Did you know you can create a talking photo album or talking book by taking your own picture(s) with your Apple device and adding your own voice? (Pictello)

Did you know you can magnify text or images up to 8x magnification just by pointing an Apple device at it? (Eye Glasses)

Did you know you can scan bar code labels and hear what product you are holding? (Digit Eyes)

Did you know you can record customized messages to help individuals with language disabilities communicate their needs? (Tap Speak Sequence)

Did you know that you could communicate over 11,500 words with sign language on an Apple device? (Sign 4 Me)

Technology is forging ahead by leaps and bounds and taking the disabled community right along with it, opening doors never dreamed of before.

If you would like to learn more about iPad apps and accessibility options, you can view an online training sponsored by the UATP.  








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CPD Legacy Story: Clarrisa Barnhill

March 21, 2011 by cpehrson

This CPD Legacy Story is about Clarrisa Barnhill. Clarrisa worked as a USU intern student at the Utah Assistive Technology Lab alongside Stan Clelland, learning how to repair and maintain AT equipment.  She is currently the Coordinator of the AT Lab at USU.

By Clarissa Barnhill

Do you have a problem? Don’t worry, we all have them. And, at the Assistive Technology (AT) Lab at USU, we love problems of all shapes and sizes. We love them because we love to help you solve them.

Some examples: A personal problem I have had is, that due to my height, I have a difficult time finding pants that fit well. For several years now I have had to alter pants in order to accommodate my long legs. At home, I created a seat for a tire swing so my nieces and nephews could use it without falling through the hole. Creating personal AT sparked my interest and the Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) was a perfect channel for me to continue creating AT.

My first experience with the UTAP was to work in the AT Lab as a student in the Special Education AT class. My classmates and I made simple, low-tech AT devices. I would excitedly take a bookstand or a cool switch home to show my roommates and friends.

Along with the regular projects, I was part of a team that designed and built the IWAS (Irrigation Wheel Assembly Snapper). We created the IWAS to help a man who assembled irrigation wheels. He has the use of only one arm, so, in order to assemble the wheels, he had to rely on the help of another person. With the IWAS, he was able to do it completely on his own. Presenting the completed device to the man was an event that solidified my passion for AT. We brought the IWAS to his workplace; showed him how it worked, and then let him put a wheel together on his own. The excitement on his face allowed me to see how significantly independence enhances a person’s life.

Clarissa and other students working on the IWAS at the AT Lab.

After the AT class was over, I continued to volunteer in the Lab. At first, I came to make modifications to the IWAS, and then stayed on to help with other projects. The next school year, I worked in the AT Lab again. Stan Clelland ran the Lab and took the time to teach me about safety, wheelchair maintenance, the use of different tools, and the best way to help people. Working in the AT lab was one of my favorite things to do with my time, as well as a fantastic opportunity to learn and to be more aware of the world I live in.

The lessons I learned in the Lab helped me during the next few months of my life as I worked for Utah State University Extension and completed my student teaching in an elementary school resource room. I started looking for a job in December of 2010. During the process of submitting applications and interviewing, I stopped by the AT Lab to say hello and see how things were going. When Stan heard that I had not found a job yet, he told me we needed to talk. He said he was leaving and that the AT Lab Coordinator position would be open. I applied, and after a very quick week, I began training with Stan. The more time I spent with him, the more nervous I became, as I realized how many things I would be responsible for.

Since being left to coordinate everything on my own, I have learned that I really have so many supports and resources and am in no way left to do it on my own. The UATP is a team of people who accept each other for their weakness and expect everyone to share their strengths.

I see the services provided positively affect lives every day. It affects my life, the students’ lives, and the consumers’ lives as they participate in creating and using AT devices.

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