Accessible Scuba Diving
Scuba diving instructor Peter Corbett believes life is all about the journey and not the destination. He lives his life by this philosophy, and now wants to share it and his love for diving with individuals with disabilities in West Virginia.
"Gravity can be a huge detriment to people with disabilities who want to be physically active," said Corbett. "But this can be controlled in water. In water, you don't have to have legs."
Scuba diving is as close to a weightless environment as you can get. Unlike other water sports that may require body movement, to enjoy scuba diving you just need to be able to get in the water. Adaptive devices and techniques can allow many people with disabilities to be able to dive within controlled environments.
Ed Dougherty is a fellow diver who has parapelegia at T-6/7 level. "After my accident (in 1974), I quickly realized the best way to get through life was to keep it as close to what it had been prior to my accident. I still liked all the things I did previously, including diving," said Dougherty. "I can enjoy it (diving) just as I've done from the start and I have almost the same mobility as an able-bodied person. I am weightless in the water and do not feel the pressure and pain from the constant sitting in a chair."
Corbett says his two goals for beginning divers are safety and confidence. He assesses each individual for strengths and weaknesses, and then adapts the training to the individual. There are a variety of assistive devices to help individuals with disabilities who would like to try scuba diving including:
- Paddle gloves for your hands
- Bottoms-only wet suits to enhance buoyancy for individuals who do not have the use of their lower limbs
- Underwater scooters, a device that allows you to propel through the water
To try diving, you need a medical release, the right equipment, and the right attitude. If you are an individual with a disability and you want to dive, you probably can. There is someone right here in West Virginia who wants to help. A Certified Athletic Trainer, Corbett's background is in emergency medicine, sports injuries and rehabilitation. Corbett can be reached at 304-545- 2125 or at DiverPRC@aim.com. Pictures of his adventures can be found on his website at http://dtsdiving.com.
The Adventures of Frank Young
Life in the Fast Lane
In 1953, Frank Young found himself recovering from a car accident that changed his life. Frank was paralyzed from the chest down and had limited use of his arms and hands. For the next fifteen years, Frank continued to enjoy the activities he had always enjoyed: hunting and fishing. In 1978, Frank's life changed again. He discovered wheelchair racing.
Frank was 38 years old when he got a call from the WV Division of Rehabilitation Services asking if he would be interested in participating at a wheelchair track meet at Laidley Field in Charleston, WV. His response was, "Why not? I'll give it a try." He did more than "give it a try"; Frank became a man on a mission. Soon after entering the world of wheelchair track, Frank gave up smoking and started training.
At the time, Frank was working full-time, but he always found time for training. He would train five days a week after work by doing 5 to 10 miles of 'night running'. Racing took Frank all over the country. He traveled to Florida, Michigan, California and Illinois to race. He also took up archery, swimming and field events. It was not long before Frank had set some goals for himself. He wanted to qualify for the national competition and he wanted a spot on the international team.
"I wanted to make that team. It wasn't easy. They only took the best," commented Frank.
In 1982, Frank made the team. He competed in the 1982 Paralympics in England. He competed in all of the track events. He brought home two silver medals and one bronze medal.
Frank did not stop with track and field competitions. He has also competed in two marathons and he encourages everyone around him to take up running. "I honestly feel I wouldn't be alive if I hadn't gotten into it. The things it does for your cardiovascular system are amazing." Many of Frank's family members took up running while he was training for racing events. Now that his racing career has ended, he volunteers with the local high school track and cross-country teams. Frank also helped start a program in his local schools called "Marathon Scholars." The program encourages kids to walk or run and read.
A question Frank is always asking his friends and family is, "Did you run today?"
For more information on WV Challenged Sports, contact the CAMC's Medical Rehabilitation Center's Jeremiah Gagnon at 304-388-7608 or visit their website at www.camc.org.
Exchange your assistive technology!
The WVATS Virtual Loan Library System is known as a free place to borrow devices, but it is more than that. The Loan Library also has an Exchange System. This system is a place where people can post and find devices. Anyone can post a device that they no longer use and would like to give away or sell. Items can be added by clicking on "Item Add" on the loan library website.
Let's get devices out of our closets and put them to use. The devices on this page are currently available on the exchange system.
For more information, visit vll.cedwvu.org or call WVATS at 800-841-8436.
The Magician•ei is a standing system for preschool kids. It has normal hip and knee alignment that maintain positions from sitting to standing. It is adjustable to grow with a child for many years. There are many support and mobility choices for children with different levels of ability. This device is meant for children who need help standing. It may be useful for children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida or muscular dystrophy. The magician•ei holds up to 45lbs and adapts to a height range of 28-40 inches.
Kensington Turbo Mouse Pro
The Turbo Mouse Pro is a USB Trackball with six direct web buttons. The direct launch buttons program website links for easy access. There is also a scroll wheel to use when viewing documents and web pages. This mouse is made for left or right hand use. The large ball and ergonomic design make it comfortable to use. The mouse connects to the computer through the USB port.
Braille Playing Cards
These Braille Playing Cards are poker size playing cards. The cards have large bold numbers that are wider than numbers on standard and low vision cards. The red numbers and suits are outlined in black to increase the contrast with the white background. The cards are coated in plastic to increase durability.
Access in the Kitchen
Living independently can require using the kitchen. For a person with a disability, moving around the kitchen can be a problem. Reaching sinks, stoves, refrigerators and cabinets can be difficult from a wheelchair or for someone of short stature. Using a microwave or stove can be dangerous for a person with low vision. Even stirring can be a challenge for someone with limited use of his or her hands. There are many options to make a kitchen more accessible.
The WVATS kitchen is available to show individuals many options. It also houses an indoor raised garden bed. The raised garden brings the garden up to the gardener. This limits back strain. Indoor gardens also make gardening an option for more people.
To set up a tour or demonstration at our location in Morgantown, or to find out more about assistive technology for the kitchen, please call WVATS at 800-841-8436.
There are many devices in the WVATS accessible kitchen, including the following:
- Adjustable kitchen sink
- Talking microwave oven
- Stove Guard Fire Prevention System
- Automatic Saucepan Stirrer
- Talking measuring jug
- Digital kitchen scale
- Automatic jar opener
- Talking kitchen thermometer
- Toaster with easy slide dial
- Modified Sunbeam kitchen timer
Hybrid Vibe Vibrating Alarm Watch by Dakota
The vibrating alarm watch may be helpful for people with limited hearing or memory loss. This watch may also work for individuals who need to use an alerting system but do not want to draw attention from others. This watch comes with four vibrating or sounding alarms, a digital timer and in either black or white. Time can also be tracked through the watch's digital or analog features.
For more information, visit www.soundbytes.com or call 888-816-8191.
The Talking Color Detector
The color detector is a device that may be useful to those with low vision or blindness. It can help people check the color of clothing and other objects such as paper, plastic or food. The detector can be used with earphones and has three volume settings.
For more information, visit www.rehabmart.com or call 800-522-6294.
The clothes folder may be useful for those with limited dexterity, limited vision or seniors. This device saves time folding materials while helping to organize clothing. This device can be used to fold shirts, pants and towels. The clothing is placed on top of the device and folded by flipping the creased sections.
For more information, visit www.maxiaids.com or call 800-281-3555.
Smart-ICE (In Case of an Emergency)
The Smart-ICE (In Case of an Emergency) for the iPad helps people during health emergencies. The app lets the user keep health information on their iPad. Smart-ICE also has an EMS alert button to dial help. The "my location" button allows EMS to find the person. Smart-ICE can also help people keep track of medications, past health conditions and allergies.
For more information visit www.ems-options.com/smart-ICE or call 937-266-1675.
Anwar Eye Center
Anwar Eye Center is a complete eye care clinic. The center is located in Moundsville, WV. The features offered by the Center make it a valuable resource to people around the state.
Transportation is a problem many people run into when they are looking for medical services. The Anwar Eye Center offers free transportation for patients and their families. This service is available to anyone in the state.
Anwar also provides a hotel for their patients. Each room in the Anwar Guest House has two double beds and a bath. The cost is $15.90 per night for each guest. This price includes a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. Transportation to and from the surgery center is also provided.
For more information, call Anwar Eye Center at 800-852-8282 or visit their website www.anwarcataractcenter.com.
Autism Speaks FREE School Community Tool Kit
Autism Speaks has a set of tool kits for families and educators. The School Community Tool Kit helps people working in schools understand and support students with autism. This tool kit has information that can be used by special education and other school staff. The kit offers ideas to help students in general education settings. The information helps with training staff. It lists specific tips that may be helpful for schools.
The School Community Tool Kit has a set of lessons to help teachers, supporting staff, and peers. The lessons help with understanding and getting ready to work and play with children with autism. The tool kit also has links to other resources that teachers may find helpful.
Other tool kits include the Transition Tool Kit, Dental Guide, Haircutting Training Guide, 100 Day Kit, and the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit. The School Community Took Kit and other tool kits are a free download at www.autismspeaks.org.
National and State News
New ADA Guideline: Impact on Recreation
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) has changed. These changes began on March 15, 2011. One area of the ADA that has many changes is recreation. The changes are for new places or places making changes after March 15, 2011. The following are some of the new guidelines that include recreational activities.
- Amusement rides - Many new amusement rides must be accessible. There must also be an accessible route to these rides.
- Recreational boating areas - If there are boat slips, accessible boat slips must also be available. If there are boating piers at boat launch ramps, at least 5% must be accessible.
- Fishing piers and platforms - Fishing piers must provide accessible routes.
- Golf - Golf areas must have an accessible route or golf cart passages.
- Miniature golf - At least 50% of all holes on miniature golf courses must be accessible.
- Play areas - Ground and elevated play areas for children over the age of two must be accessible. They also need accessible routes, ramps and transfer systems. The play area surfaces should be accessible as well.
- Swimming pools, wading pools and spas - Facilities must provide an accessible way to enter and exit.
For more information visit www.ada.gov or call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301.
Legislators Pass Autism Insurance Bill
Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the Autism Insurance Reform Bill on April 3, 2011. West Virginia is the 25th state to require insurance coverage for children with autism. Public Employees Insurance Agency, Children's Health Insurance Program and most private insurers will have to cover autism treatment. The bill will go into effect July 1, 2011. Insurance companies must meet all requirements of the bill by January 1, 2012. Key points to the bill include:
- Full coverage for the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. If the child is unable to get a service or treatment within the State of West Virginia, coverage will be provided for an out-of-state provider.
- Coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy of up to $30,000 a year for the first three years after diagnosis.
- Once the three-year period is over, the child may get up to $2,000 per month for coverage until they are 18 years old.
- The ABA therapy must be by or supervised by a certified behavior analyst.
- Coverage will begin when the child is 18 months old.
For more information, visit www.legis.state. wv.us and search for Bill 321 or call your local representative.
The Ticket to Work program has grown in West Virginia. There are now 10 Employment Networks in the state. Employment Networks (ENs) are agencies approved by the Social Security Administration to provide the work-related services. Many of the ENs can teach Ticket Holders how to work and keep their Social Security check and medical benefits.
The growing number of ENs makes it easier for people with disabilities to find job services and supports. Services include job advice and training.
ENs also help with moving from school to work. They can find supports for specific disabilities. By working with a West Virginia EN, Ticket Holders can get in-person support in their own communities. If you have lost your Ticket or if you are unsure if you have a Ticket, contact an EN near you to see if you are eligible.
To learn more about the Ticket to Work program, visit http://choosework.net/ or contact an EN near you.
|West Virginia Employment Network||Address||Phone Number|
|Gateway Industries Inc.||Ronceverte, WV
|Goodwill Industries of Kanawha Valley, Inc.||Charleston, WV
|Human Resource Development Foundation Services||Morgantown, WV
304-296-8223 x 24
|Jackson County Development Center, Inc.||Millwood, WV
|Job Squad Inc.||Bridgeport, WV
|PACE Training and Evaluation Center, Inc. (PACE TEC, Inc.)||Morgantown, WV
|West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS)||Charleston, WV
|WV Family Support and Rehabilitation Services, Inc.||Parkersburg, WV||Gina Ogwude
|West Virginia Mental Health Consumers' Association||Charleston, WV
|Working Solutions||Wheeling, WV||Patty Baker
Affordable Health Coverage for Workers
The Medicaid-Work Incentive (M-WIN) lets working West Virginians with disabilities or chronic health conditions "buy into" the Medicaid program to get or keep health care through Medicaid. In 2010, more than 2,350 West Virginians enrolled in M-WIN in 53 counties. Within the first three months of 2011, over 1,600 individuals in 51 counties across West Virginia were participating in M-WIN.
To qualify for M-WIN, you must:
- Be a resident of West Virginia.
- Be working and earning at least minimum wage.
- Be between 16 and 65 years of age.
- Meet disability guidelines as determined by the WV Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Medical Review Team.
- Meet certain income and resource limits.
To apply for M-WIN, contact your county DHHR office. Once you have been determined eligible, you pay a $50 enrollment fee that includes the first month's premium. After that, you pay a monthly premium. The average premium is about $36 per month.
A survey of over 1,300 M-WIN members showed that many people in this program are satisfied with their health care coverage. Here are comments from some participants:
"MWIN has been the reason that I am still able to continue working. Thank you very much."
"I think the MWIN program is a wonderful thing. It has made all the difference in the world to me. It has helped to improve my quality of life very much and has given me a piece of mind that is beyond compare."
"This program gives people like myself an incentive to work either full-time or part-time depending on one's health. It gives you a secure feeling of having health care that you can afford for ...things that you need. It also gives a person a little bit of dignity."
For more information about M-WIN, contact www.mig.cedwvu.org/mwin or call 800-642-8589.
Scotch® Pop-Up Tape can be another option for people who have trouble tearing tape from the usual tape dispenser. The pre-cut tape is two inches long and can be taken using only one hand. The base of the pop-up dispenser comes in many colors and designs. The Deskgrip design has a rubber base that sticks to most smooth surfaces and moves easily. The Handband design helps keep your hands free with tape strips at your fingertips. The portable model fits in small spaces such as a briefcase, purse, pocket or backpack. The Mountable design sticks to most flat surfaces.
For more information or to purchase Pop-Up Tape, visit www.3m.com or call 800-364-3577.
Farmer reaps benefits of workplace accommodation
With a little help from West Virginia AgrAbility and the WV Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), another farmer can continue farming. This farmer did not know if he could continue providing fruits and nuts to his local customers due to health concerns. Respiratory problems were leaving the farmer short of breath during the chores he had to do to keep the farm running. These chores included carrying and spreading mulch and pest spray. The farmer was also working in areas too small to fit machinery. These challenges made farming very hard.
WV AgrAbility and DRS talked and visited with the farmer many times to look at his options. It was agreed the farmer would be able to run the farm himself if there was an easier way to do the chores. The farmer felt that if work did not cause him to have extremely labored breathing, then he could manage his farm.
AgrAbility staff suggested several assistive technology devices that could help the farmer do his chores with less impact on his breathing. One suggestion was the Bobcat Toolcat. The Toolcat is a vehicle that only has forward and reverse, so no shifting is needed. It has the safety features that are only found on utility work vehicles. By placing the shuttle shifter in the neutral position, the Toolcat is locked in 'park' and will not move. The vehicle will come to a complete stop and not move by just letting off the accelerator. No braking is necessary, even on an incline. There are also more than 40 attachments that can be used with the Toolcat.
The Toolcat is all-wheel drive so tires do not tear up the ground as much as other vehicles might. It is also easy to maneuver. Both the front and rear wheels steer at the same time giving the Toolcat a very small turning radius. This lets it get into areas such as barnyards, around trees, and fence posts. This utility work vehicle provided the agricultural worksite accommodations that met most of the needs of this farmer's agriculture operation.
This farm accommodation may sound like a lot for moving around and doing chores more easily. However, the Toolcat gives more to this farm than ease of movement. The Toolcat can also lift items or objects. In this case, mulch, manure and pesticides can be lifted and moved. This feature lessens the strain on the respiratory system.
Due to the Toolcat's cost, AgrAbility staff worked with the farmer to find funding. AgrAbility turned to DRS. DRS provides funding for work place accommodations. In this case, a Toolcat is considered a workplace accommodation. Without the vehicle, the farmer would not be able to continue to be employed. DRS agreed to pay for the Toolcat. He qualified for funding because his farm is his main source of income. With this workplace accommodation, this farmer is able to continue his operation in less pain, hopefully for many more years to come.
For more information, call 800-841-8436 or visit www.agrability.cedwvu.org.
Tools for the Garden
Radius Garden Weeder
The Radius Garden Weeder has an ergonomic design that eases the stress on the user's wrist. It is a good tool for removing dandelions and other weeds. The tool's sharp blade slides into compacted dirt. The curved design pops out deep, tough weeds. The back blade wings pull or cut roots and weed stems. The seed reservoir and planting channel can make it easy to put small seeds where they need to go.
For more information, visit www.garden.com or call 888-314-2733.
Extend A Hand Ergonomic Gardening Tool Set
The Extend A Hand is a set of four hand garden tools that fit in an ergonomic holder so you use your arm and shoulder to dig instead of your wrist. The tool attaches to the forearm and has a right-angled grip to make the most of your strength. The tool has four different heads that can be changed. It can be a trowel, hoe, cultivator or pruning saw. This tool can be helpful for people with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other wrist or forearm problems.
For more information, visit www.as-seen-on-tv-products.ws or call 800-238-7119.
Picnic Time 5 Piece Garden Tool Set with Tote and Folding Seat
The Picnic Time 5 Piece Garden Tool Set with Tote and Folding Seat has a stool, trowel, spade, weeder and hand rake fork. The sturdy steel frame stool lets the user garden sitting down. The tool bag attaches to the seat to give the gardener easy access to the tools.
For more information, visit www.target.com or call your local Target store.
Adapted Garden Spray
The adapted garden sprayer attaches to any wheelchair. It has a flexible gooseneck mounted spraying wand that lets the user maintain a healthy garden. The sprayer wand can be adjusted in length from 12 to 24 inches. The spray nozzle is also adjustable. The spray can be adjusted from a very fine mist to a long-range stream. The Adapted Garden Spray holds up to a gallon of water.
For more information, visit www.enablingdevices.com or call 800.832.8697.
Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints
Green Thumbs Mini Grants Awarded for 2011
Green Thumbs, Healthy Joints funded eleven projects around the state this year to make community spaces and gardens more accessible. Many of the projects are building raised beds to beautify common spaces. These raised beds can be found in senior centers, retirement communities and rehabilitation centers. Raised beds are used to teach people about ergonomics, arthritis and proper tool use.
A few of the projects are making accessible gardens bigger to allow more people to join in. Preston County's Master Gardeners group is creating a training program to give information about ergonomics, accessibility, basic gardening, and joint health. Preston County is planning public planting days to reach out to more people than the Master Gardeners group could do alone. These planting days will help care for accessible gardening sites around the county.
To see a list of this year's projects and to learn more, visit http://greenthumbs.cedwvu.org or call 800-841-8436.
Center for Excellence in Disabilities
West Virginia University
959 Hartman Run Road
Morgantown, WV 26505
WVATS Newsletter Editor:
Editorial Committee: Melina Danko, Mary Slabinski, Sarah Ott, Daria Jones, Bev Sheets
Layout: Brian Pickens
WVATS is funded by the US Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration Contract# H224A100047
All printed materials are available in braille, electronic format, cassette tape and large print. WVU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Institution.