UCP National Talks Assistive Tech with Provail

This post was written by UCP Summer 2017 Programs and Development Intern, James O’Connor

 

“We try to ask ourselves: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?”

This is what motivates Brenda Chappell, Director of Clinical Services at Provail, a UCP affiliate located in Seattle, Washington. Brenda recently spoke to us about Provail’s assistive technology programs.

[Image Description: A white woman with short brown hair wearing a green sweater and a black scarf holds a smartphone to a book while reading in what appears to be a children’s classroom. She is looking off to the side.] Photo: Lawrence Roffee

 

Assistive technology is an umbrella term that covers equipment, software, system, or any item that is used by people to find and or maintain a job and/or perform activities of daily living. Technology can be big, like an automated lift for van or bath, or small, like a Velcro-attached grip for a fork or a pen. It can be new-age interactive voice activated software for speech therapy or a wheelchair component. It can be high-tech–a computer screen operated by eye movement or low-tech, like a specially-designed door handle for people with muscle strength or dexterity problems.

Assistive technology can often be complex and very user-specific, and this is where Provail’s team plays an important role. At their AT (assistive technology) clinic, they take a holistic approach to finding the best technology for each person.

Brenda and her colleagues’ AT  programs bring professionals from Provail into schools and homes to recommend AT, and teach users, parents, teachers, therapists, and caregivers the best ways to put a person’s AT to best use. Provail works with kids as young as 4 years old, as well as adult clients, and individuals all the way through the lifespan.

Brenda notes that students with earlier access to AT have overwhelmingly better outcomes in both learning and lifestyle. She makes it clear that enabling mobility and communication at an early age are core to the program at Provail. “Before this unique program, we would see adults coming into the clinic with no AT and no mobility. Now, parents doing a 10-week program with us are finding successes that they never knew were possible.”

On top of helping people find and use the best possible AT for their needs, Provail also helps connect users with typical and alternative funding sources, making the stressful process of financing AT easier for many of their clients.

As assistive technology becomes more complex, more varied, and more common, it is important to put people first and keep in mind Brenda’s important question: what would make this person’s life better, faster, easier?
Check out your local affiliate to find out more about what type of AT services may be available, including financial resources that may be available.

UCP Visits the Abilities Expo!

UCP made a trip to Edison, New Jersey for the New York Metro Abilities Expo a couple weeks ago. The Abilities Expo brings together vendors, organizations and disability-centered initiatives for three days for those to explore the latest and greatest in all things disability related. Staff from UCP National visited the Expo on May 2nd and 3rd, networking with several organizations and fellow Expo-goers.

 

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UCP Staff with the crew from the [dis]ABLED InsideOut collaborative.

Some of the highlights from the Expo included: The Panthera X, a carbon-frame chair that weighs only nine pounds with the wheels attached, with the frame itself only weighing four pounds. Other cool and notable technology included Smart Drive, which allows a manual wheelchair user to be able to steer their chair by just tapping on the wheels.

The UCP Staff hadopportunity to be apart of the large-scale and collaborative art project [dis]ABLED InsideOut, which is being lead by French actress and activist Leopoldine Huyghues-Despointes and artist JR. The goal of the project is to help bring awareness to disability, as well as to play a role in helping to challenge stereotypes that those with disabilities often face. The staff members who participated in the project were all born with Cerebral Palsy and were honored to be apart of the [dis]ABLED movement.

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Some of the assistive devices on display at the Expo.

 

The biggest highlight of the Expo was, without a doubt, getting to meet and connect with so many wonderful and like-minded people with disabilities. There was great camaraderie and conversation. It’s an amazing thing to see such a strong amount of activism in one space.

If you have a chance, go check out the Abilities Expo when it comes to your city!

 

 

Innovation Lab Design Challenge Debuts

Intensive Two-Day Event from UCP’s Life Labs Coming to Chicago 

 

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Life Labs initiative will bring an intensive, two-day design challenge called an Innovation Lab to Chicago May 19-20, 2015. Following successful events in London, Washington DC, and Sydney, Australia, the Innovation Lab (formerly called Enabled by Design-athon) brings together people from all walks of life under the principles of Universal Design to dream up the next big idea for people with and without disabilities.

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At each Innovation Lab, this diversity of talent from a variety of fields is coached to use human-centered Universal Design concepts to solve every day problems as part of a competitive yet collaborative design challenge for team prizes. Designers, engineers, inventors, makers and hackers as well as professionals and caregivers in the disability field are all encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives to the process.

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Innovation Lab Featured Speaker Paul Edlund – Microsoft Core Technologies Chief Technologist

The inaugural Innovation Lab scheduled for Chicago will take place at the Microsoft Technology Center and will be co-hosted by Smart Chicago. Smart Chicago is a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology by increasing access to the Internet, improving skills for using Internet, and developing meaningful products from data that measurably contribute to the quality of life of residents in the region and beyond.

“Here at Microsoft we are focused on improving the lives of citizens through technology,” said Shelley Stern Grach, Director of Civic Engagement at Microsoft. “The Innovation Lab focuses on the principles of design to provide opportunity and access to technology for diverse communities, and we’re excited to sMicrosoft Technology Center 2ee what the teams come up with.”

Teams will design and build prototypes or present plans that demonstrate how products can rapidly be created to better fit with people’s lives and needs, no matter what those need may be. UCP’s Life Labs is intent on creating a movement of accessibility for the masses so that mainstream products work for as many people as possible, including those with disabilities and older people. The Innovation Lab events are meant to challenge preconceptions of assistive equipment, showing how products can be personalized, purposeful and beautifully designed too.

“Rather than continuing to retrofit our world to accommodate people with disabilities, there’s no reason why we can’t design our world to work for people of all abilities,” said Marc Irlandez, Director of UCP’s Life Labs.

Registration is now open at http://ucpinnovationlab.org/ Space is limited.

 

Co-hosted by:

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Thanks to our sponsors:

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Design Innovation Program Wins Grant from Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

United Cerebral Palsy’s Life Labs to Take Universal Design Thinking to Apple’s iTunes U

Washington, D.C. (January 20, 2015) – United Cerebral Palsy’s (UCP) Life Labs initiative was  awarded a significant grant from Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. The grant will help fund a unique new approach to fostering innovation in design and technology for people with and without disabilities.

The project embraces the principles of Universal Design, which strives to create products and environments that are inherently usable and accessible to all people, including people with disabilities. It will deliver an open-source event toolkit and a full curriculum built around UCP Life Labs “maker fair” event concept and distributed through Apple’s iTunes U. UCP is one of less than 100 nonprofit partners – and the only disability organization – curated by iTunes U for educational materials offered to more than 250,000 students.

UCP’s Life Labs held a small-scale version of the event in Washington, D.C. in each of the past two years, bringing together people with disabilities, inventors, hackers and other innovators with and without disabilities. In a friendly competition, attendees developed ideas for revolutionary products and services using a Universal Design approach. With input from mentors with disabilities, team members collaborated to create workable solutions for everyday problems that they then pitched to judges in an atmosphere similar to the hit TV show “Shark Tank.”

“It’s time to take this to the next level,” said Marc Irlandez, director of UCP’s Life Labs. “We were looking for a way to bring the event to a greater number of people in more locations. Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation saw the possibilities and iTunes U was the perfect platform to help make sure that anyone who wants to learn how to make the world a better place through Universal Design can do so.”

“By providing opportunities for people with and without disabilities to work together with industry leaders in a creative way to design accessible consumer products, this project not only exposes students to careers in science and technology, but it also helps raise the awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities,” said Kevin R. Webb, senior director, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. “Ultimately, it will help empower youth with disabilities to make changes for the better in society, which is the mission of our Foundation, and why Mitsubishi Electric is proud to provide support to help replicate and expand this innovative project.”

The initial goal of the materials to be made available via iTunes U is to introduce college-age students to the concept of Universal Design and inspire innovation. Eventually, other materials will be developed as part of a school’s STEM lessons that K-12 learners can adopt.

“It’s significant that a large national nonprofit such as UCP is able to work with a recognized brand as iTunes and be supported by such a well-known foundation as Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation,” said Stephen Bennett, president and CEO of UCP. “With this level of credibility and this unique learning platform, this project is bound to bridge the gap between designers and engineers and people with disabilities, to the collective benefit of us all.”

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About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a broad range of disabilities and their families. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, visit www.ucp.org.

About Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, based in the Washington, DC area, was established in 1991 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Mitsubishi Electric U.S. companies, which produce, sell and distribute a wide range of consumer, industrial, commercial and professional electronics products. The Foundation has contributed more than $13 million to organizations that are empowering young people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and productive lives.

To learn more, visit the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s website at www.MEAF.org.

Leader in Universal Design Field to Kick Off Design-athon

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John Salmen, AIA, CAE, is scheduled to kick off the UCP’s Life Labs initiative Enabled by Design-athon: DC Edition on Wednesday, November 5. The president of Universal Designers & Consultants, Inc. and internationally recognized leader in the universal design field, Mr. Salmen has specialized in barrier free design for more than 35 years, creating environments to be usable by people of all ages and abilities, to the greatest extent possible. He is one of the leading experts in the technical aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and has authored several books including: Accessible ArchitectureThe Do-Able Renewable Home,Accommodating All Guests and Everyone’s Welcome.

He joins Adrienne Biddings, Policy Counsel for Google. Brett Heising of www.brettapproved.com and Maria Town, the influential blogger who created http://cpshoes.tumblr.com/. Also on tap is the 2013 DoSomething Grant winner, Diego Marsical. The speakers will offer “lightning” talks on accessibility and design for people with disabilities at the Great Hall at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library from 6:00-8:00 p.m., which will be followed by networking time at a happy hour at a local establishment to be determined. This event is the prelude to a two-day design workshop at Google’s D.C. offices on November 6-7 where teams will compete to come up with the best design. A $25 registration fee is required for the workshop, however, the Wednesday evening event is FREE and you do not have to participate in the full workshop to attend (registration is required and space is limited).

“This is an opportunity for designers, technologists, engineers, students, caregivers and people with disabilities to collaborate and learn from each other how to use human-centered universal design concepts to solve every day challenges,” said Marc Irlandez, Director of Information, Technology and Life Labs at UCP. “We believe good design goes a long way towards helping people live as independently as possible by making day-to-day tasks just a little easier.”

The event is sponsored by Google, CareerBuilder, Sprint Relay, PCS Engineering, Sugru, the CEA Foundation, Tech Shop and Coroflot. Academic partners include Marymount University and the Cocoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington, University. It has been featured on the Core77 Design blog and in the Tech Shop newsletter.

Get more information and register at http://ucpdesignathon.org/.

Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College issued a joint statement on the use of technology and interactive media with young children. The statement is meant to provide research-based guidance to all those who care for young children as they consider if, when and how to use technology and interactive media in early childhood programs (schools, centers, family child care) serving children from birth through age 8. Read the full Statement.

DC RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT LEADER CHOSEN TO HEAD UCP’S TECHNOLOGY EFFORTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:
Lauren Cozzi, 202-973-7114, lcozzi@ucp.org
Alicia Kubert Smith, 202-973-7168, akubertsmith@ucp.org

DC RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT LEADER CHOSEN TO HEAD UCP’S TECHNOLOGY EFFORTS

Irlandez to launch Life Labs, Strengthen Life Without Limits Initiative

Washington, DC (December 16, 2011) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), an international service provider and advocate for children and adults with a spectrum of disabilities, has appointed Marc Irlandez, a technologist with more than a decade’s long track-record of successfully producing innovative technology solutions for complex problems, as its new Director of Technology. Irlandez starts with UCP on December 21, 2011.

Irlandez has served in District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer since 2008, during which he held positions as head of OCTO Labs and Director of Research and Development. During his tenure, he was accountable for initiatives supporting innovation with new technologies within all DC government agencies. At UCP, he will lead a team implementing Life Labs, UCP’s Research and Development Program designed to harness technology to create innovative solutions for people with disabilities, and will implement a technology plan to serve UCP’s 84 affiliates while helping to implement technology solutions for UCP’s public education and outreach and Life Without Limits initiatives.

“We are thrilled to welcome Marc to the UCP family at this important time in the organization’s history,” said Stephen Bennett, former President and Chief Executive Officer of UCP. “Marc brings a wealth of experience in using technology to help people connect with one another, which is core to the mission of UCP.”

Prior to serving in city government, Irlandez was a Senior Developer with Zenoss, an Annapolis, Md.-based technology firm; a Consulting Engineer with Opsware/HP in New York City; and a Computer Scientist and Project Leader at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. He has also head technology leadership positions at AOL/Time Warner, wellspent.org, the Economist Magazine/CFO.com, Learning In Progress, the Sapient Corporation and Magnet Interactive. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from The George Washington University.

“I am excited to join UCP and to be entrusted with its technology vision,” Irlandez said. “I believe in UCP’s mission and that Life Labs will become a model of how technology can transform lives in meaningful ways.”

About United Cerebral Palsy
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

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Website Reviews Apps for People with Disabilities

SNApps4Kids or Special Needs Apps for Kids is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about how they are using popular mobile devices like the iPad, iTouch and iPhone with children who have special needs.  These Apps allow children and adults with disabilities to communication, learn new skills and have fun. Browse through the site to find Apps categorized by device type, skill (color recognition, manual dexterity, decision making) or broad category such as math or reading.