CReATE re-launches with new focus, larger selection

September 30, 2013 by Sue Reeves

By Storee Powell, UATP

Image of Larry O'Sullivan

Larry O’Sullivan

Larry O’Sullivan spent 30 years as a professional photographer in Australia, shooting everything from weddings to aerial pictures, but was forced to leave the Down Under after late complications from a Vietnam War injury led to an above-the-knee double amputation a few years ago.

“I’d passed my ‘use by’ date in Australia, but aging and retirement is not synonymous with not having something to do,” O’Sullivan said. “America is the land of potential and accessibility – you can be anything you want to be.”

CReATE, Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment, is a non-profit that helps Utahns with disabilities be more independent by providing low-cost mobility equipment. Wheelchairs and scooters are donated from the community, and cleaned and refurbished to manufacturer standards by a technician. O’Sullivan read about CReATE in the newspaper and knew it was his answer to finding a power chair, or as he calls the assistive technology devices, ‘fast speed chairs.’ The devices are hard to come by in Australia, he said.

“Here, I can go cross-country and only carry an emergency kit on my chair. The chair I got from CReATE has given me independence,” O’Sullivan said.

Mobility is essential to a good quality life and independence, but as baby boomers age and medical insurance does not always meet a consumer’s needs, the demand for affordable mobility equipment increases.

Devices from CReATE generally cost less than $500, and the program doesn’t require proof of disability or insurance. All Utahans are welcome to utilize the program, which began as a concept more than 15 years ago.

Program coordinator Alma Burgess, said, “We knew this need existed after working with the public through the Utah Assistive Technology Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.”

The program officially began in 2007 as a certified 501c (3), and is housed at the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation in the Judy Ann Buffmire building.

CReATE has undergone logistical changes, and will re-open to the public October 1st with an emphasis on quick service and a good selection of mobility devices.

“We’ve learned a lot the first few years of CReATE’s existence,” Burgess said. “We are streamlining the process, working closely with other non-profits and state agencies, and trying to get the word out.”

The re-opening event will kick-off at 2 p.m. with a presentation to raise awareness about the program. O’Sullivan and other previous device recipients will talk about receiving their wheelchairs and how they are now using them. Devices will be showcased, and CReATE staff will highlight the process of receiving or donating a chair and the future goals of the program.

Following the presentation will be an open house with CReATE partner UCAT (Utah Center for Assistive Technology) to promote the assistive technology services available to Utahns.

O’Sullivan said, “I am not good at being housebound, and now I can make my own ends meet here,” he said. “My father said life is a magnificent adventure, and I want to be here as long as there are adventures to live for.”

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UATP’s Pavithran meets with Google, Apple

September 6, 2013 by Sue Reeves

image of Sachin Pavithran

Sachin Pavithran

It’s not often one is invited to attend meetings with the likes of Google, Apple or the President of the United States, but in recent months Sachin Pavithran has done them all as part of his responsibilities with the U.S. Access Board. Pavithran is the director of the Utah Assistive Technology Program at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, and was appointed to the U.S. Access Board in December 2012.

The focus of the meetings with Google and Apple, and Twitter in the near future, has been accessibility and product design, Pavithran said. Non-disclosure agreements make it impossible to talk about specific details.

“There are ongoing conversations about all these things,” Pavithran said. “It’s not in-depth, it’s more like ‘are you guys keeping this in mind?’”

Pavithran said private companies are very careful when they deal with people connected to the federal government.

“I had lawyers following me around to make sure I didn’t say or do something wrong,” Pavithran said.

In July, Pavithran debriefed President Barack Obama on Access Board issues. The meeting lasted for about an hour and included six White House staffers and four others.

“Obama kept asking me questions so I told myself ‘you better pay attention,’” Pavithran said. “I didn’t think he’d be asking so many questions—he was asking for clarification and things like that—I thought it would be more of a formality.”

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Powell earns seven journalism awards

June 12, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of Storee

Storee Powell

Storee Powell, public relations and marketing specialist at the Utah Assistive Technology Program at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, recently earned seven awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. SPJ’s Top of the Rockies competition includes Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, and is the group’s largest geographical area.

Powell earned the awards for her work with Utah Public Radio. She won first-place awards for political reporting, arts & entertainment reporting, news feature and (with April Ashland, Kerry Bringhurst and Ryan Cunningham) public service;  second-place awards for public service and news reporting; and third place for enterprise reporting.

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UATP offers free online webinar

November 28, 2012 by Sue Reeves

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a free online interactive training, Infant Head Shape Deformities and Correction Through Use of Cranial Remolding Orthoses, on Wednesday, Dec. 5 from 3 – 4:30 p.m.

This free training, presented by Dallin Chambers, certified orthotist at Northwest Orthotics and Prosthetics, will cover head reshaping through the use of a cranial remolding orthosis. The following aspects will be discussed:  head shape deformities, necessary measurements–how to obtain them and what they mean to you as the practitioner or parent—contraindications, scanning process, overall treatment from initial evaluation to final appointment, insurance companies that cover them and their requirements.

Chambers received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from the University of Utah in exercise and sports science.  He continued his education at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn., where he completed two more years of specialized schooling in the field of orthotics.  He completed a one-year residency at Northwest Orthotics and Prosthetics in Provo where he continues to work as a certified orthotist.

To participate, you will need a computer with high-speed internet access. Interested persons should contact Storee Powell at 435-797-7412 or by Monday, Dec. 3. Instructions will be emailed to participants.

Screen reader users, or those who need any other accommodations to participate, should contact Sachin Pavithran at 435-797-6572 or no later than Monday, Dec. 3 to make arrangements to participate via phone.


CAC Corner: Who is a caregiver?

September 6, 2012 by cpehrson

This CAC Corner blog post was written by Gordon Richins, CPD Consumer Liaison and the CPD’s Consumer Advisory Council’s advisor.

Gordon Richins in a baseball cap sitting in his wheelchair

Who is a caregiver?
“There are four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” 
(Former first lady – Rosalynn Carter)

As an individual who uses a caregiver every day, I thought I would share some personal experiences and information, as well as gather some general information that individuals could use and share with others.

Here are some of my personal experiences with caregivers over the last 26 years from my perspective. For starters, I would like to begin with when I was released from the hospital after my accident that paralyzed me from the neck down.  The only caregivers I used were family members. It took me quite a while to start accepting assistance from others, especially individuals I did not know. After I got over this hurdle, my quality of life has greatly increased and my opportunities in everyday life has expanded. The use of outside help also provides my wife time to herself. Serving as a caretaker can be very stressful and demanding and in some cases require a great deal of time. I would encourage individuals and family to seek out the use of outside help from the beginning.

I would like to share with readers some of the things I value most in a caregiver. Reliability is the most important factor for me, as well as being on time. I also value their willingness to learn how I like to do things. I want things done my way. I have had caregivers that thought they were the boss, but it didn’t take long to change that. So I guess I should add listening and respecting the individual they are caring for. Honesty, integrity, and a good sense humor are very important, also. Gender doesn’t matter to me. I just prefer someone who knows what they are doing. In a rural community my selection of caretakers is very limited, so I appreciate the help I can hire. I have friends who will only use one gender or the other, which is fine because I believe in personal choice and preference. I have found that with the lack of qualified Personal Care Assistance available, a person is not always able to be real choosy.

Some of the challenges I have had to overcome when using a caregiver are their availability and also the turnover of caretakers primarily due to the low wages or salaries. And then there is the process of training a new caretaker all over again. Also, living in a rural community on a dirt road out of town, I have the added expense of mileage for the caregivers travel. For individuals and families who may qualify for state and government assistance there may be more choice of caregivers due to the availability of competing agencies within communities. In my rural community, there is only Franklin County Medical Center home health division and a limited number of private Personal Care Attendants who work for themselves. Most communities also have some form of training opportunities for Personal Care Attendants so they can be certified or accredited and be able to be paid through an agency. This may really improve the number of caretakers available, if friends and family go through the training and become certified or accredited.

I’d like to share some advise for individuals and family who may be looking for a caregiver that could be very helpful for individuals or family members who may be looking for the first time. The most important thing you can do is to research your area for the availability of caretakers, and the organizations they may work for. It is  helpful to know the organization’s hiring process and how they do background checks. In the event that they do not work for an agency and work for themselves,  then you become the employer and this has IRS requirements, Workmen’s Compensation requirements, payroll requirements and in some area, certified training requirements.

There is also a great deal of information on the World Wide Web for the individual who uses caregivers and for those who are caregivers. This information is also useful for family members as they research the topic of caregiving for the elderly or individuals with disabilities.

A great place to start is a website developed by Purdue University’s Breaking New Ground Resource Center and the Indiana State Office of Rural Health.  On this website there is an advertisement for To Everything There is a Season, a very beneficial and informative set of training materials.

You can also find a list of various caregiving services, organizations and resources on the Utah Resources website.

Another great resource was developed by the Utah Assistive Technology Program here at USU.  It is titled the Personal Assistance Services Guide and is available to download online through the UATP, or by calling 435-797-3811. This resource guides those looking for personal assistant caregivers through the process of locating caregivers, interviewing them, learning the employer’s responsibilities, training and supervising new PA’s.

This is just a snapshot of a wealth of information on caregiving, hopefully you will find it useful and helpful.

As the CPD Consumer Liaison, I am also available as a contact person for general questions regarding caregiving and care receiving.

Gordon Richins


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