Wednesday, November 27, 2013

AT for Black Friday/Cyber Monday

by Kirk Aranada, YO! Disabled and Proud Youth Advocate

It’s that time of the year again, the events that kick-start the holiday shopping season: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  'Tis the season to start your holiday shopping!

iPad mini, tablet, and nook
iPad Mini, Kindle, & Nook
TVs and computers are not the only things on sale this week. There are various assistive technology (AT) devices on sale too, such as iPads and other tablets- including apps for them to help you with everyday tasks or for having fun. On Black Friday at Target stores there are going to be a few deals on iPad minis.  Target will be offering a 16GB iPad Air for $479 which is $20 cheaper than the original price and you will also receive a $100 Target gift card with your purchase. Also available is the 16GB iPad Mini wifi version for $299 which includes a $75 gift card. Finally, Target will also have the Nook on sale (8 GB) for $79 which is $50 off its original price.  
picture of a foot bath, a spa mask and towels - care package
Caregiver Gift Pack
If new technology is not on your list, how about some AT for relaxing your over-stressed body? The Therabath Thermotherapy Paraffin Bath can help relieve pain, inflammation and stiffness from arthritis as well as soften dry cracked skin and it is on sale for  $179.95 this weekend. There is also a Caregiver Gift Pack or a Deluxe CaregiverGift Pack which includes various home spa items for you or your loved ones to relax and pamper themselves in the comfort of home.  
We wish you a safe and happy shopping experience, and be careful with the crowds on Black Friday. Do you have any great AT sale items to share?  Please type them in the comment section below.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Youth Internships in California with YO! Disabled & Proud

The AT Network collaborates with many other disability-related groups to make sure that people get their hands on accessible technology; YO! (Youth Organizing) Disabled and Proud is one of those groups.

YO! connects, organizes and educates youth with disabilities. One of the ways in which YO! does this is by helping youth develop leadership and job skills, which are essential to all people entering the job market or transitioning into a new arena.

Volunteering and working through internships are an important way to gain these skills. The YO! Volunteer Corps provides opportunities for youth to volunteer in ILCs to gain job and leadership skills, which can be utilized in internship programs or in employment. YO! informs youth of internship opportunities by holding webinars where organizations can present information regarding their internship programs and by sending opportunities out via the YO! ListServ. Internship programs vary in their focus but all work to provide a ton of positive outcomes:

  •         Learning about your assistive technology and access accommodation needs and how to advocate for them in a job setting;
  •        Becoming competitive in a competitive job market;
  •        Practicing the job application and interview process;
  •        Discovering your interests;
  •        Exploring different fields;
  •        Networking;
  •        Resume-building;
  •        Finding mentors;
  •        Developing skills such as public speaking, familiarity with particular software, time management, etc.;
  •        Getting familiar with working life and the work day;
  •        And a whole lot more!

Sara Moussavian, a former YO! volunteer who was
Sara Moussavian, former YO! volunteer
instrumental in developing YO!'s Disability History Week campaign, says of her current internship with the Paul K. Longmore Institute at San Francisco State University, "I work with other volunteers on organizational projects (such as an Oral History Project) while becoming further exposed to the Disability Community. I support in planning, recruitment of attendees, and implementing events, which the Institute organizes. I participate in weekly meetings with other volunteers and staff where educational conversations are held with regards to topics related to Disability Studies and/or Disability History. Since I am still an intern, I find it fascinating that I am still learning something every time we have a meeting or I work on a project. For example, through the Oral History Project, I am learning about some of the individuals who were participants in the 504 Protest. If I was not working on this project, I would not be learning about these individuals."

Picture of Maddy Ruvolo, you woman with long brown hair smiling
Maddy Ruvolo, YO!'s Youth Advisory Council
Maddy Ruvolo, a member of YO!'s Youth Advisory Council, says of her recent internship: "This summer I was in the American Association of People with Disabilities summer internship program. Through the program, I interned in the office of Congressman Alan Grayson, where I compiled daily media clips of the congressman's press coverage, drafted constituent response letters, answered phone calls, and did whatever else was needed. As someone who's always been interested in politics, I loved learning more concretely about how the government actually functions. My favorite part of the internship was probably gathering press clips, because it was interesting to see how certain topics were framed by different news organizations. I also enjoyed drafting response letters, which gave me the chance to research a wide variety of issues (though I was most drawn to letters about disability and healthcare). Everyone in the office was incredibly welcoming, and I learned so much from them over the course of the summer. Needless to say, I had a really fantastic experience."

Internships are available for high school students, post-high school students, undergraduate college students, graduate students, and beyond. To get started on your search for internships, check out the YO! website: YO! also provides information on internship opportunities through the YO! ListServ.

Have you ever participated in an internship program? What was your experience like? Let us know!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Keep The Wheels Rolling Repair Fund – Now Accepting Applications from Nonprofits in California!

We are excited to announce the launch of our new Keep the Wheels Rolling Repair Fund (KWRF), sponsored by Clearinghouse CDFI and Batteries Plus. Keep the Wheels Rolling Repair Fund is designed to provide small grants of up to $300 for the purchase of parts and/or repairs needed to refurbish a wheelchair or scooter so it may be reassigned to a low-income Californian with a disability for free.  

Application Information - for the complete guide to the application rules, go to  To apply, an organization must:
  • Be an established nonprofit that accepts donations of used wheelchairs and scooters;
  • Currently provide cleaned and/or sanitized and repaired/or refurbished wheelchairs and scooters to low-income Californians with disabilities;
Uses for the funds from KWRF include, but are not limited to:
  • Wheelchair batteries;
  • Non-custom parts (custom seating and other parts specific to the individual will not be included);
  • Missing or broken accessories essential to the device's use.
Funds may also be used to pay for the labor costs of specialized repairs that cannot be completed by program staff. The total repair cost of the wheelchair or scooter may not exceed 50% of the device's estimated value.

Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis until the fund is exhausted. Only one application per month (30-day period) per program will be accepted. Applications will be reviewed by staff for completeness first, then for content. Each device repair request must be submitted in the Application for Funding online.

Important Note: The KWRF may not be used to pay for repairs to a device already owned by an individual with a disability. The fund is intended to support the reassignment of used and donated devices to new individuals who need them.

Our goal is to support as many reuse and refurbishment programs as possible. Preference will be given to applicants who have not previously received funding. For complete application information and guidlines, go to


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sports, Accessibility & AT

by Kirk Aranada, YO! Disabled and Proud Youth Advocate

It’s fall again, and it’s during this time of the year that lots of people start watching and playing team sports again. There are many, many different sports and sport activities that individuals with disabilities can participate in and oftentimes that means searching for some helpful assistive technology (AT) to use. For some people that use wheelchairs, soccer, basketball and rugby are possible options. They are three of the most popular sports and have a growing number of competing local, regional, and national leagues. Check out Disabled Sports USA  for more information on a variety of sports and to view active chapters in your area. 
Picture of 3 men in wheelchairs fighting for control of the rugby ball all with their hands up in the air. Shirts say US and Australia.
U.S. Wheelchair Rugby Team in Bejing
The world of AT has made the rough-and-tumble game of rugby accessible for all in the form of wheelchair rugby. In fact, currently, there are over 25 countries playing wheelchair rugby! It is played indoors on a hardwood court with two teams of 12 players each. The AT involved includes a manual wheelchair that is custom-made and specifically designed for wheelchair rugby. The customization includes having a bumper in the front so that players are able to strike and hold opponents, an anti-tip device at the back, wings  positioned in the front of the main wheels to make it more difficult to stop and hold an opponent, and, lastly spoke protectors to prevent damage to the wheels. Having this specially-designed AT equipment prepares players to really give it their all in taking down their opponents.

power wheelchair that has a bumper gate in the front of it
Power Wheelchair for Soccer
Wheelchair soccer is pretty similar to rugby when it comes to that AT that is used and its game structure.  It is also played indoors on a hardwood court, but power wheelchairs are used instead.  These power wheelchairs have a metal bumper that surrounds the front of the wheelchair. The soccer ball used is slightly larger and the ball ricochets off of the wheelchair bumpers for passing, scoring and blocking as well for defense. Soccer wheelchair is another sport that is becoming increasingly popular thanks to assistive technology.

on the basketball court, shows 4 women going for the ball in wheelchairs
Germany's Female Wheelchair Basketball Team
Finally, there is wheelchair basketball. It is one of the most popular sports around! The wheelchairs used for playing basketball are usually non-folding and have a pronounced negative camber for the wheels in order to provide more stability while making the necessary sharp turns.  The rules are pretty much the same as standard basketball; they use a normal-sized court and a ten foot hoop.  "Traveling" in wheelchair basketball occurs when the athlete touches his wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball. The person with the ball must pass, bounce or shoot the ball before touching their wheels again. In some countries, it is becoming more common to have mixed teams competing side by side with each other - teams with both wheelchair-users and non-wheelchair users. 

YO! Youth Advisory Council Member, Ania, has competed in wheelchair basketball for a long time and has been playing sports since she was five years old.  Ania feels that her getting into wheelchair basketball at a younger age was a great decision and one that she has never regretted.   

“It has done a lot for me.  Playing sports has helped boost my confidence as a person; it made me more competitive and helped me to learn to be more aggressive on and off the court.  It’s helped me be more self-assured in knowing what I want in life,” said Ania.

Accessible sports are making an impact all over the world. They are bringing people together and boosting confidence and athleticism among participants.  Do you play or have you watched any of these wheelchair sports? Share your experience with us in the comment box below.