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Release: Dec. 14, 2001

IPAT offers holiday gift ideas for people with disabilities

A University of Iowa program that serves Iowans with disabilities has several gift ideas that can help people with disabilities better perform everyday tasks.

InfoTech, a service of the Iowa Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT) at the University of Iowa, provides Iowans with disabilities and their families with information on assistive devices and other products designed to make their lives easier.

"There are a number of assistive-technology gifts for persons with disabilities, priced from a few dollars on up, that are both useful and unique, " says Jane Gay, program specialist at IPAT. "In some cases, an assistive-type gift can open up opportunities or make activities like watching TV or going to church easier and more enjoyable."

Some gift ideas Gay suggests include:

-- Assistive devices for people with vision impairment, such as large-print telephones or speaker phones, large-print books or books on tape, automatic page turners and magnifiers for everyday use.

-- Household items and tools for people with disabilities, like desks or work stations that can be adjusted and easily moved from room to room, cooking and gardening tools with adaptable handles, and shower/bath accessories that make morning routines less difficult. Also, large-print or automatic thermostat controls ensure safe indoor temperatures during the winter months.

-- Products that enhance watching television, such as sound amplifiers. Infrared amplification systems are available that lets a person to wear a headset that uses infrared waves to receive television sounds. The headset allows the person greater movement in the room and only that person can hear the television program.

-- Assistive technology for recreational use, like camera gear, modified sports equipment, park and picnic supplies, craft kits and board games.

-- Transportation aids. Wheelchair lifts or loaders are helpful, as well as a wheelchair ramp that can be stored in a van or trunk of a car. Also, driving controls and conversion devices for vehicles are available.

-- Assistive equipment for business or farm uses. Expanded or Braille keyboards, cursor controls and voice recognition systems for computers are becoming more popular. For farming, ideas include hand controls for agricultural equipment, livestock handling equipment, outdoor communication devices like a CB radio, and modified tractor seats.

InfoTech produces a newsletter with information on new products and a listing of available used assistive-technology equipment. For more information, call (800) 331-3027.

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