News and Events Resource

How Assistive Technology Can Support Those Experiencing “Long COVID”

Reposted from IL_NET TA, National Technical Assistance Center for Independent Living

What Are “Post-COVID Conditions (Long COVID)?”

According to the CDC, post-COVID conditions are “a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.” Often referred to as “long COVID,” the scientific name is “Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC),” and may also be referenced as “long-haul COVID,” “post-acute COVID,” “long-term effects of COVID,” and “chronic COVID.” People who experience long COVID may have had severe, mild, or asymptomatic COVID-19 in the days or weeks after their initial infection with the virus. New research (not yet peer-reviewed) suggests persons with breakthrough infections who were fully vaccinated and under age 60 may be protected from long COVID, but those over age 60 are not. Long COVID presents as different health problems and combinations of symptoms within a wide range of severity. Common symptoms are extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, problems with cognition, and a racing heartbeat. Neurological symptoms appear to be the most enduring; many long COVID patients report problems with memory and “brain fog.” Children, as well as adults, may experience long COVID. Some studies suggest more women than men may acquire long COVID. (Read some experiences of people living with long COVID.)

In February of 2021, the NIH announced a new initiative to study long COVID. Among the questions the initiative seeks to answer is, “Does SARS-CoV-2 infection trigger changes in the body that increase the risk of other conditions, such as chronic heart or brain disorders?” As of July 2021, long COVID can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504, and Section 1557 if the condition substantially limits one or more major life activities.

The Unique Role of AT Act Programs Persons with long COVID may be experiencing disability for the first time in their lives. The national field of State and Territory Assistive Technology (AT) Act Programs has spent decades committed to serving individuals of all ages with all kinds of disabilities (and combinations of disabilities) wherever they live, learn, work, and play. AT Act Programs uniquely understand and respond to the needs of adults and children that arise from temporary and long-term disabilities. AT Act Programs provide a stigma-free environment for persons with disabilities (and those who serve or love them) to learn about, try out, and acquire the assistive technologies that maintain or improve independence. As we learn more about how to treat long COVID, those experiencing long-term effects from COVID-19 can benefit from the AT services millions of people have sought for staying in or getting back into their lives.

For example, AT Act Programs provide access to:

AT for Fatigue and Mobility:
• equipment for bathroom safety
• transport wheelchairs and rollators for reduced stamina and stability
• gadgets for completing daily living tasks with reduced dexterity (from joint and muscle pain) AT for Memory and Cognition:
• an understanding of built-in features of iOS and Android operating systems and apps common to smartphones
• loans of tablet computers with apps for accomplishing tasks and goals identified by the borrower
• smart pens for keeping up with meetings (or productivity apps that sync to audio recordings)
• low-tech solutions and strategies for remembering medications and other essentials
• smart speakers and how to use them to support cognition AT for Social Isolation and Telehealth:
• loans of tablet computers and laptops for video conferencing, social media, email, and recreation
• Echo Show and similar technologies
• simplified connected devices for memory impairment
• alternative computer access
• assistive listening devices

AT for Work:
• alternative workstations and workstation adaptations
• strategies and technologies for improving stamina at work
• information and referral for rehabilitation services and a deep knowledge of cross-disability services as a point of entry for those newly disabled

AT Act Programs provide free demonstrations of assistive technologies in an environment that is without pressure to choose any particular product. The programs additionally provide free or low-cost short-term loans of devices to fill a temporary need or to trial before deciding to purchase, as well as counseling on funding options. AT Act Programs are staffed by professionals who may be AT users themselves and who can link visitors to additional services as necessary or help problem-solve the needs of others in their lives (clients, family members, students). AT Act Programs are the only service network that provides this kind of solutions-driven, cross-disability, multi-age, assistive technology support for maintaining the independence of persons living with long COVID in the pandemic and post-pandemic world.

Find Your State or Territory AT Act Program




News and Events Resource

SCSU Partnering for Virtual AT Success

Written by Dr. Lauren Tucker

The COVID-19 Pandemic resulted in all educational settings unexpectedly converting to alternative teaching formats. Although a challenging conversion, this transition revealed a huge opportunity to collaborate with practicing teachers for the Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) Graduate Program in Assistive Technology. Two initiatives were implemented in the 2020-2021 academic semesters to authentically build skills in assistive technology and consultation practices within the program.

SCSU graduate students were virtually paired with practicing teachers, with the goal of using the SETT framework to analyze classroom needs and the virtual environment. The SETT Framework, created by Joy Zabala, focuses on investigating the Student, Environment, Task, and the Tools to identify appropriate AT solutions.  After this analysis, assistive technology tools or strategies were presented to meet students’ learning needs.

The SCSU Assistive Technology graduate program partnered with two special education schools for this project. The first school is based on the University’s campus which focuses on reinforcing vocational and life skills for individuals ages 18-22. The second partnership was established with a newly developed private school for elementary students with autism spectrum disorder.

The collaboration had two phases. The first phase occurred in Fall 2020 in the “Assistive Technology for Access” course. The professor coordinated the communication between the graduate students and practicing teachers. The teachers identified gaps in their virtual instruction and requested specific activities aligned to students’ goals and objectives.  Graduate students then created the activities and presented them to the building administrator. During this presentation, graduate students provided specific rationalizations for choices (accessibility features, content, audio, visuals) aligned to classroom needs. Some of these projects included custom Boom Card ( decks to practice filling in personal information, simulating signing up for a website or online membership.  Another was using Thing Link ( to create a virtual job shadow for students to learn about the components of working at a bakery. This activity can be previewed here:  You can also access the activity by scanning the QR code below. This collaboration built relationships and allowed the SCSU graduate students to explore initial consultation phases to build their AT implementation and technology skills.

The second phase integrated sessions between the graduate students and practicing teachers within the “Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing” course.  The graduate students and teachers meet 4-5 times across the semester discussing challenges, identifying needs, exploring tools, and finally presenting possible solutions. Graduate students were provided with a consultation framework and guidance to identify opportunities for improvement within their practice.  They also utilized a classroom based SETT framework to identify assistive and instructional technology to support the classroom.  Based on these discussions, the students created custom activities and recommendations for the teachers. They also designed training supports and provided individual training to teach teachers about the recommended tools or strategies.

The SCSU Assistive Technology Graduate program is excited to continue partnering with Connecticut schools and teachers to build assistive technology capacity while designing authentic learning opportunities for graduate students. If you would like to  learn more about partnering with the SCSU AT graduate program or to  learn more about the course offerings, you can visit our website: or email Dr. Lauren Tucker at We are excited to continue evolving our program content and collaborations to reflect our dynamic field.

News and Events Resource

Communicating the SAME Message

By Linsey Zanchetti, SCSU Student

My name is Linsey Zanchetti and I am a graduate level student completing my 6th year certification in Assistive Technology at Southern Connecticut State University. This summer, I am completing an independent study with the guidance of Dr. Lauren Tucker, targeting core language approach and modeling with augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) devices for parents and for paraprofessionals. Individuals who are complex communicators may utilize an AAC device in order to improve their functional communication. The success of the introduction and implementation of an AAC system for an individual involves a collaborative teamwork approach (Goldbart & Marshall, 2004; Karlsson, Johnston, & Barket, 2017; Brock, Seamn, & Downing, 2017). This team includes paraprofessionals who are involved in the daily activities of individuals who use AAC devices within the schools and families who are providing natural modeling opportunities within the home. While many parents frequently feel overwhelmed with novel AAC devices, paraprofessionals also experience minimal training which impacts their use of the device within the school setting for school-aged children.

This summer I am planning to conduct two separate training sessions—one for families via Zoom and one for paraprofessionals in person at a special education school in Orange, CT. The focus on the training is to provide a research-based introduction to explain the benefits of using a core language approach with AAC and then explain the best way to model language with an AAC device. Core vocabulary is a set of words consisting of verbs, adjectives, pronouns, articles and conjunctions that make up approximately 80% of what we say. Conversely fringe vocabulary is vocabulary that is specific to an individual or a situation and makes up approximately 20% of what we say. Utilizing a core vocabulary approach helps to allow an individual who uses AAC devices to communicate more efficiently particularly when they are using direct selection to access their device.

Individuals who utilize a multi-modal approach to communicate, including using an AAC device, rarely have the opportunity to see the same modeling when they are beginning to communicate. Modeling intervention strategies have shown significant improvements in the language output for individuals who use AAC devices, however, it is important to identify specific strategies used by various communication partner when developing training programs. Researchers have found that allowing children the opportunity to access and use the device in multiple setting while modeling the use of that device is a key instructional strategy (Campbell, Milbourne, Dugan, & Wilcox 2006; Briggs Carter, & Gilson, 2019). Using communication partners to model the communication through the use of the AAC device is a unique way to allow the communication partner to use the AAC system to model expressive language within natural interactions (Sennott, Light, McNaughton, 2016).

The trainings will provide a brief background on AAC, core vocabulary, and modeling. Participants will then interact to brainstorm communication opportunities within their daily routines. For example, communication temptations will be described and video examples will be provided to promote integration into daily routines. A communication temptation is when an adult sets up the environment to tempt the individual to communicate. For example, during snack time providing only a small amount of the desired snack, requiring them to ask for more. After participants brainstorm opportunities to integrate core vocabulary and communication opportunities, modeling will close the presentations. To facilitate the adoption of modeling, I have created an acronym to help families and paraprofessionals remember key aspects of modeling: SAME (See/Slow, Always, Model, Expand). This simplified model is derived from other approaches in the field (Kent-Walsh & McNaughton, 2009) and redesigned to be more accessible to families. See/Slow emphasizes making sure that the individual is looking at what you are doing when you are modeling with the device. Always focuses on having AAC available all the time and integrating it in an as many opportunities as possible. Model without expectations: making statements, describing things, and restating messages. Finally, expand your model approximately 1-2 words above their use. The goal of SAME is to develop a mnemonic to easily integrate AAC into the home and school routine. Following the Zoom trainings, families and instructional professionals will have the opportunity to attend a follow-up, open-ended training session to answer any questions and to provide ongoing support.

Our goal is to build confidence in families and paraprofessionals to model the language and to help individuals who are complex communicators be exposed to using core language and their AAC devices in all opportunities. We want to build the confidence in order to reduce the abandonment rates for families when introducing AAC devices and to help support the communication partners to be as successful as possible. When school-aged children are introduced to these types of devices, providing adequate training and support to the educators and paraprofessional working with them throughout the school day is vital for the success of the system.

News and Events Resource

Registering to Vote & Basic Rights of Voters with Disabilities

By Melissa Cruz, Parent Advocate

Are you registered to vote?  Are you eligible? To be eligible to vote in Connecticut, you must be a U.S. citizen and 18 years of age by the day of the election.

Vote button

You must also be a resident of a town in Connecticut. That’s it!

There are many options for voter registration. One of the fastest and easiest ways to register is online through the Secretary of State’s website: You also have the option of registering at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and many other organizations offer paper registration forms. Some of these locations include your local Town Clerk and Registrars of Voters Offices, colleges and universities, public libraries as well as the Departments of Rehabilitation Services, So

cial Services, Developmental Services, and Public Health.

On Election Day, if you forgot to register to vote, it’s NOT too late! You can still register and vote on the same day at your Town’s Election Day Registration location or (EDR). The EDR location is open during the same hours as the polling place, 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  Because you are registering to vote on the day of the Election, the I.D. requirements are more stringent. Some of the acceptable forms of I.D. include:

  • Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate
  • Learner’s Permit
  • Utility Bill Within 30 Days of Election Day
  • Paystub
  • Paycheck
  • Current Bank Statement
  • Social Security Card

Advocacy Tip: If you are registering to vote on Election Day, check with your local Registrar of Voters about the location of the EDR and the requirements for I.D.s.  Get there early – they can be very busy places on Election Day!

Voters with Disabilities – What are your rights?  All polling places must be physically accessible to persons with disabilities. The route from the accessible parking to and through the polling place must be able to be navigated by individuals using mobility devices such as wheelchairs, canes, and crutches. The process or methods of voting must also be accessible to voters with disabilities.  Some of the other rights of voters with disabilities include:

  • Access to a sample ballot in large print.
  • Any videos for use by voters must be closed captioned.
  • Voting privately and independently – voting equipment for voters who cannot use a paper ballot to vote privately and independently.
  • Moving to the front of the line if the disability prevents the voter from waiting.
  • Unlimited time in the polling place to complete the ballot.
  • Have someone assist you with marking your ballot – there are some exceptions to this rule.
  • Vote using any method at the polling place. Currently, voters can manually complete a paper ballot or use the ballot marking device that must be available at all polling places and the Election Day Registration location.
  • Bring a service animal into the polling place.

If you are a person who has a guardian or conservator of person, you cannot be denied the right to vote unless a probate court has issued a specific order stating that your right to vote has been taken away.

Advocacy Tip: If your polling place is not accessible – on Election Day, contact t

he Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of the State at (860) 509-6100.

After Election Day, you can file a complaint with State Elections Enforcement Commission at:

State Elections Enforcement Commission

55 Farmington Ave

Hartford CT 06105

Phone Number: 860 256-2940


News and Events Resource

Generations On Line (GoL) Offers New Free Tutorials

GoL wants to simplify tools and technology for older adults, helping foster and promote their internet literacy, access and skills, while also helping them overcome any fears associated with electronic media.

GoL is offering free tutorials that may be useful to many older adults who are online users. Visit the links below to learn more:

  1. Using Telemedicine GoL Tele-Medicine Tutorial BlueJeans Welcome (
  2. Reading Newspapers Online Digital Newspapers for Seniors (
  3. Helping Older Adults with Smartphone and Tablet Technology Generations on Line Mobile Edition (, in addition to their Easy Tablet Help for Seniors

Generations On Line Flyer



News and Events Resource

Accessible Pharmacy Services Can Help Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities

by Patrick Olsen, Director of Business Development for Accessible Pharmacy Services in Connecticut

Accessible Pharmacy logo

Accessible Pharmacy is a comprehensive healthcare company specializing in medication management for individuals who are blind, have a disability or are part of the senior community. Accessible Pharmacy Services provides free home delivery throughout Connecticut and will work with any insurance provider, including Medicare and Medicaid. The company was co-founded by

Dr. Alex Cohen, who is blind and lives in Philadelphia. Dr. Cohen earned his Ph.D. in Marketing, with a specific focus on retail accessibility. While earning his degree, Dr. Cohen learned about the lack of medication-management support available for seniors and people with disabilities.

Accessible Pharmacy Services Director of Business Development Patrick J. Olsen has been working with Connecticut consumers who are blind, low-vison, senior citizens, including veterans and individuals with developmental disabilities, since 2012. Patrick himself is blind.

His Accessible Pharmacy Services salespeople are experienced, top-notch customer care representatives who are blind or have disabilities. Patrick’s Connecticut customer care coordinators work with each individual client to find the best solution for effectively managing all medications. For all Connecticut residents this includes a wide variety of packaging and pill-sorting options, high-tech label-reading solutions, Braille and large-print labels, automatic refilling and reordering of prescriptions, medication consultations, education and reminder systems. All of these additional services are free, if you sign up now.

Additionally, Connecticut state consumers are provided a no-cost service that manages the transfer of pharmacy files securely, while seamlessly coordinating with all the client’s physicians, hospitals, clinics and support systems.

Accessible Pharmacy Services, through a partnership with Be My Eyes, now offers easy-to-understand procedures for private COVID-19 home testing kits for use in homes, facilities or apartments, including supports for all individuals who are blind, have low vision or other disabilities. This unique service is designed for all individuals with disabilities and senior residents in Connecticut, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our team enjoys educating all clients, family, caregivers and facility managers about the parameters of the program and any changes that have taken place. They transmit patient medication usage data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and objectively and clearly present patients with all programs that are available to all Connecticut consumers. This service is free until the end of 2020.

Patrick Olsen, Director of Business Development for Accessible Pharmacy.To learn more, visit or call anytime 215-799-9800 for immediate enrollment. In Connecticut, you can also contact Patrick J. Olsen, Director of Business Development (CT), Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Or email

News and Events Resource

UR Community Cares

Written by Donna Powell

If you’re looking for ways to help older adults age in place and persons with physical disabilities live more independently, you can now refer people to UR Community Cares.  This nonprofit organization, based in Manchester and covering all of Conn., is making great strides in matching up homebound residents and others who need safe-distanced assistance from volunteers living nearby. Needs can range from temporary (recovery from surgery) to permanent (no longer able to use stairs for laundry).  Service includes household tasks, yard work and companionship visits such as pick-up/delivery of groceries and other essential errands.  Participants are background-checked and follow COVID-19 safety protocols. There is no charge for services or for the secure online enrollment at Visits can be scheduled weekly, monthly or as needed, and pre-scheduling allows for caregiver respite opportunities.

Co-founder and president Michelle Puzzo is available to schedule an online informational meeting and website demonstration with your organization. Please email or call 860-430-4557.   UR Community Cares is also seeking new board members, advisors, volunteers and sponsors.