Outline of the state of Massachusetts with people inside and "MassMATCH"MassMATCH NEWS Quarterly

Maximizing Assistive Technology in Consumers' Hands

Summer 2011
Come Play with Us! Gigi Ranno on the Power of Recreation
CORD Holds Annual Cookout
Tips for Easier Gardening from Gardens for Every Body
Wheelchair Accessible Cape Cod! From Everyone Outdoors
Save the Date!
Get AT Stuff Highlights
New Adapted Bike Program in Western Mass!
How to Get Started with DCR's Universal Access Program
Looking for an Accessible Beach?
Upcoming Events
Great Resource: The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability
Come Play with Us! Gigi Ranno on the Power of Recreation

MassMATCH Quarterly had the opportunity to talk with the Universal Access Program's Outreach Coordinator Gigi Ranno last week about the recreation opportunities offered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. What came through was her passion for her work and her conviction that recreation has the power to transform lives... including her own.
Gigi Ranno and two others sailing. Ranno is smiling, with one hand on the tiller.
Gigi Ranno sailing in Boston

MQ: We can see on the Everyone Outdoors blog site all the great opportunities the Universal Access Program is offering this summer, everything from horseback riding and sailing to kayaking, rowing, and hiking. What message do you want to get across to readers of the Quarterly?

GR: That no matter what has happened to you economically, physically, professionally, emotionally, there are many fun accessible, low-cost and sometimes free, inclusive activities that you can do throughout the Massachusetts State Parks system!  Our whole goal as stewards of public lands and the state parks is to invite the public to enjoy these beautiful natural resources, and the UA program's job is to help people of all abilities reclaim their ability to recreate like anybody else.

MQ: How do you make that happen?

GR: Well, there's a difference between being accessible and actually being welcoming. We hire folks who have worked with individuals of all abilities for years are trained in outdoor recreation,  are licensed, and are very familiar with the adaptive equipment so that they can help participants have fun in a safe way.  I have progressive MS and use a wheelchair, and I used to be very athletic. When I first heard of this state agency and realized that I would still be able to kayak or hike (which was one of my favorite things to do), or learn how to sail--even though I hadn't ever learned to sail before!--or get on a horse, when I learned that I could enjoy nature and do these things with people I knew and would normally want to hang out with anyway, it was just phenomenal.

We have flat bottom kayaks with wide mouth openings, some are tandem, and some have seats with back support; plus we do a lot with foam and duct tape! We have wheelchairs that have been to the top of Mt. Greylock, and adapted saddles for riding horses (and people to walk with you).

At Community Boating, Inc. in Boston, we've built four accessible sailing boats. They are built to accommodate participants who require various adaptations; including a gentleman who wanted to go sailing, who is non-verbal and has quadriplegia. Our boats allow you to sit below the boom, so you don't have to switch from side to side. They have tipped, molded, go-cart seats with head and neck supports. The keel of the boat is reinforced and the tiller is extended so you can steer, and all the lines are duplicated up front so you can sail independently if you want to.

MQ: You must have some great success stories.

GR: What comes to mind is a woman I met who wanted to go horseback riding but the weight limit is 175 lbs. and she was so disappointed. I felt bad, so I talked her into trying sailing, and she was very hesitant at first and unsure. But I told her there are people to help, and even a Hoyer lift to help you into the boat if you want, and how our providers are really good at making participants feel welcome. Then I ran into her at the sailing program a year later and almost didn't recognize her! She barely touched the ground she was so excited. She was sailing a couple times a week and was learning how to do it independently. The day I saw her she was getting out of the boat sopping wet and I thought, uh oh, but she was beaming! She almost couldn't contain her joy at being in control and learning to sail the waves.

Personally, sailing is one of the most freeing experiences I've had. You leave all your worries on shore and you go out and sail. You are completely at peace and it's a level playing field.  I think this woman even decided that she had enough energy to look into a part-time job! We've had a lot of people who've started working and volunteering again, in several cases they've found paid employment. Recreation improves self-esteem and physical well-being and can often lead to entering or re-entering the workforce.

MQ: So there are benefits no one even anticipates...

GR: Oh my goodness yes. The socializing and camaraderie is as important as the activity itself to many of our participants! People come and chat with others with challenges and see that they are not alone and that other people are dealing with a lot too, which can be a really good thing. And they see what others are doing and how they are dealing with similar issues! It's a mindset, you know. For myself, I have to change my perspective, instead of thinking, "I can't," it's much better to think, "I can," and I simply do it differently now. For example, when I go kayaking, I need back support and velcro and foam to kind of cushion my legs and keep them together. And it's not a big deal! And I'm with everyone else, not segregated to another area. I'm with other people with other issues, nobody is staring and it's a wonderful feeling.

MQ: Anything more to add?

GR: No matter how much or how little you can or want to do, we're happy to help you enjoy the activity. Come join us!


CORD Holds Annual Cookout

Kristin Jung on the zip line.
Kristin Jung on the zip line
Accessible recreation a big success!

On Saturday, June 25th, Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled (CORD) teamed up with YMCA Cape Cod at Camp Lyndon to hold a cookout dedicated to access to recreation for all. Camp Lyndon staff, along with volunteers from local youth groups, and PCAs (personal care attendants) hired for the occasion helped make the day a success for over 100 CORD members, friends and family. In addition to hotdogs and hamburgers, participants sampled kayaking, canoeing, archery and a ride down an impressive zip line.

"It was a great day," reports Assistant Director Cathy Taylor. "It didn't matter what your disability, you could participate in anything you wanted to."

The zip line was especially popular. "It was great to see the smiles traveling down that line. We had individuals who use wheelchairs trying it for the first time!" Swimming was an additional offering, however the chilly temps kept most on shore. "Except for one guy whose girlfriend stood up in the canoe!" Taylor chuckles.

Taylor speaks highly of the Camp Lydon staff. "They did a terrific job communicating, asking what people needed, and making sure everyone was comfortable and confident. It really shows what's possible. We had people going from one activity to the next, and trying most everything."


People of all ages and abilities attended. Volunteers from local youth organizations provided childcare, face painting, and assisted with the activities. "It was a chance to come and bring your friends and family and just have fun."


The CORD cookout was made possible by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and is part of CORD's initiative to improve access to recreation on the Cape and compile information about local accessible recreation opportunities. CORD is currently forming a committee to help in that effort. Learn more: Contact Cathy Taylor.  


Tips for Easier Gardening from Gardens for Every Body
Gardens For Everybody home page image with house, toolshed, garden beds and wide pathways. Also lists categories for accessible gardening information provided: 1. container gardening, 2. raised beds, 3. pathways, 4. trellis, 5. health and safety, 6. special consideration, 7. toolshed.
Gardens for Every Body Web portal
Gardens for Every Body is a comprehensive Web resource on accessible gardening for seniors and persons with disabilities. Check it out to learn about tools, structures, and strategies that can get you or keep you in the garden!

Tips for Easier Gardening (an excerpt from Gardens for Every Body):

If you have limited strength, mobility, or trouble getting around the garden, try some of the following tips for easier gardening.
  • Put hanging baskets on pulleys so that they can be easily lowered for maintenance.
  • When possible use lightweight pots for the patio or balcony. If using clay try having them set on a platform with wheels so that you can easily move them around when needed.
  • If you have a large garden and are always forgetting things, try getting a few inexpensive tools and putting them in a plastic-type container (safe from the elements) near the bottom of the garden. This will save steps and allow you to prune and weed as you go.
  • Try using a mailbox to hold small hand tools. There are great decorative mailboxes on the market that will add charm to the garden.
  • Place stools, garden chairs or benches in the garden so that you can rest often.
  • You can buy a garden cart to carry long handled tools but a plastic garbage pail on wheels works just as well and is somewhat cheaper. The wheels are adjustable on the back so they will stay in one place when you park it. The tools are where you need them and they don't fall.
Read the rest of this article at this Gardens for Every Body Web page (by Karen Funkenbusch, MA and Willard Downs, PhD). 


Gardens for Every Body is a program of Missouri AgrAbility, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). 

Wheelchair Accessible Cape Cod!--From Everyone Outdoors

The following article was originally published June 11, 2011 at Everyone Outdoors

Planning a visit to scenic Cape Cod? If you need
wheelchair access in order to consider Massachusetts' premiere vacation destination, here's what you need to know!
Crosby Landing beach on the bayside of Nickerson State Park
Crosby Landing beach on the bayside of Nickerson State Park. A beach wheelchair is available with advance notice.
Basic Services: You can cover a lot of planning basics with one stop on-line shopping on the Cape Cod Disability Access Directory (CCDAD). Details about ATMs, beaches, gas, health care, lodging, restaurants, theatre/cinema and transportation are covered for four distinct sections of the Cape.
Yurt with deck and wheelchair access ramp.
Accessible camping at Nickerson State Park.
Camping:  Two state parks offer wheelchair accessible yurt camping - Nickerson State Park in Brewster and Shawme Crowell State Park in Sandwich - both are primarily inland forested parks, a nice reprieve from the hot sun. Yurts are built - in tents so no need to bring your own! They sleep either four or six people and feature beds, chairs and a table, with a deck outside and a raised fire circle with cooking grate. Nickerson features several freshwater ponds and a lot of shaded trails. The Cape Cod Rail Trail passes through at the front entrance. Nickerson also has a bay side beach that is quite lovely, and park staff will deliver a beach wheelchair if you like. The park is wildly popular with long lines to get in during the summer - don't plan to arrive without a reservation. If you prefer a quieter park, Shawme Crowell is a fantastic alternative, without ponds, trails or beach - a lovely base from which to explore outward. Reservations start six months in advance via Reserve America so its late in the game for this year, but always worth a check just in case, with availability most likely at Shawme Crowell.

Beaches: Many beaches feature beach wheelchairs from town beaches to the National Seashore. Use the CCDAD to look up beaches in towns you plan to visit.
Two people on a tandam tricycle.
Adaptive cycling along the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Cycling: There are choices! The 22 mile long Cape Cod Rail Trail runs through six towns from Dennis to Wellfleet in the mid-Cape area. You can rent a DCR touring style handcycle at Rail Trail Bike and Blade in Brewster near Nickerson State Park. On the upper Cape, the Shining Sea Bikeway travels almost 11 miles through woodlands, salt marshes, and along the seashore between Falmouth and Woods Hole. In Provincetown, the outermost tip of the Cape, a 5 mile Provincelands Loop through the dunes offers a hilly ride with extensions to beaches. Bike paths are generally great for wheelchair jaunts too!
Wheelchair accessible tent with access mat and wheelchair
CAPEAble Adventures has 6 of these wheelchair accessible tents available for their camping programs.
Adventures: I just met Craig Bautz of CAPEAble Adventures at DCR's annual Adaptive Recreation Fair in Boston last weekend. What a nice guy! And he's got toys! CAPEAble offers organized adaptive recreation activities including cycling, golf, kayaking, curling and kite flying. They work with the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands (RHCI) and put together a Wounded Warriors Project Weekend each September. Craig uses a wheelchair himself and lives on the Cape, so he is a great resource!

Cape Cod is becoming more accessible over time and that is a nice thing to be observing!

-Marcy Marchello, program coordinator for the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation's Universal Access Program in Massachusetts State Parks. Marchello blogs routinely at Everyone Outdoors.


Save the Date!

Products and Technologies that Change People's Lives: Universal Design and Assistive Technology in Massachusetts. Sept. 23, 2011. Hynes Converntion Center, Boston, Massachusetts 

Please join us for an Expo and Conference on Friday, September 23rd at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Experience the current state-of-the-art of inclusive products and technologies that transform the lives of people with disabilities and older people. Help initiate a strategy for integration of inclusive design and assistive technology into the Massachusetts innovation agenda. Be a part of it!

Focus areas will include: Home, Work, Learning & Sport.
Come learn, explore, experience and engage!

Hosted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governor Deval Patrick, Lt. Governor Timothy Murray,
Secretary Judy Ann Bigby, MD (EOHHS) & Secretary Gregory Bialecki (EOHED). Convened by the Institute for Human Centered Design.


Did you know that... 

  • 84% of all U.S. special education students have brain-based conditions (RRTC 2009)
  • 50 million U.S. adults had arthritis in 2007-2009, an increase from 46 million in 2003-2005 (Centers for Disease Control)
  • By 2030 the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that people over 65 will make up 20% of the population
  • Massachusetts Statistics (American Community Survey 2009)
  • 5.9% of Massachusetts residents ages 5-17 have a disability
  • 8.9% of Massachusetts residents ages 18-64 have a disability
  • 34% of Massachusetts residents ages 65 and over have a disability
  • U.S. workforce statistics for individuals 55 years or older (Rising Demand for Older Workers Despite the economic recession: Accommodation and Universal Design for the New American Workforce,  found in Public Policy and Aging Report Winter 2011, National Academy of an Aging Society Volume 21 no. 1)
  • 28% of workers 55 and older work in public administration
  • 25% of workers 55 and older work in education
  • 21% of workers 55 and older work in healthcare
  • 20% of U.S. workers 55 and older work in professional & business organizations 

For more information contact:  info@ChangePeoplesLives.org  

or 617.695 1225 v/tty ext. 235


Get AT Stuff Highlights
GetATStuff logo: image of New England States with recycling arrows around them

GetATStuff--the New England "Craig's List" for AT--currently
has hundreds of items available for sale or free throughout the six New England states.

As of this writing, GetATStuff highlights include:

16 Vision-related items

including a free ClearView CCTV in Peabody, MA!

2 Hearing-related items

including an FM system for $500 or Best Offer in Woonsocket, RI

28 Speech Communication-related items

including a free Zam communication device in Boston, MA

9 Learning, Cognitive, Development related items

including a Somatron Playfloor in Worcester, MA for $1500 or Best Offer.

340 Mobility, Seating, and Positioning related items

including a free Action bariatric manual wheelchair in Amherst, MA

304 Daily Living related items

including a bathtub safety handle for $25 in Boston, MA

66 Environmental Adaptation related items

including a portable wheelchair shower for $400 or Best Offer in Boston, MA.

47 Transportation and Vehicle Modification related items

including a car topper (for a folding wheelchair) for Best Offer in Acushnet, MA

15 Computer related items

including a free eye blink switch in New Milford, CT

13 Recreation, Sports, and Leisure related items

including a special needs ride-on toy (Power Pumper 2000) for $250 or Best Offer in Sudbury MA

Go to www.getatstuff.org to search items by category or geography or to list what you need. Go to the MassMATCH AT Swap and Shop web page to learn about additional AT reuse sites.

Quick Links

New Adapted Bike Program in Western Mass! 

Participant smiling and seated on an adapted trike in front of Ashuwillticook Rail Trail sign (with dog).
Get ready to pedal! United Cerebral Palsy in Pittsfield is partnering with the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation to offer a new adapted bicycle program: Everybody Rides.
UCP-Berkshire has 10 adapted bikes for use on the Berkshire Bike Path that will accommodate many ages and abilities.
Adapted trikes for little kids
The program requires interested participants to be fitted for an appropriate bike by a  physical therapist (provided by UCP-Berkshire). Bikes are then loaned for a two hour period for use on the path.

Learn more: email Program Coordinator Dawn Matthews or phone her at 413-442-1562.

How to Get Started with DCR's Universal Access Program 

  1. Check out this DCR Web page and find an activity you want to do. Many are low cost, some are free. For example, sailing is available for $1 every day of the week! [Donations welcome.]
  2. Invite any friends and/or family you'd like to. Everyone is welcome (with or without a disability).
  3. Pre-register so staff can be ready for you and understand your needs.
  4. Have fun!
Looking for an Accessible Beach? 

Helpful Advice from the Blogosphere!

Sandy Neck beach access ramp
Sandy Neck Beach, Sandwich, Massachusetts

Cape Cod Disability Access Directory
Upper, mid, lower, and outer cape thoroughly analyzed!


TravelinWheels Highlights Accessible Beaches in North America
Discusses beaches (and provides links) for California, Florida, US Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, Mexico, and Hawaii.

Frommers: The Able Traveler. "Accessible beaches for everyone."
Discusses beach accessibility features and where to find them.

TravelMuse: Beach Access
"How and where to plan an accessible family beach vacation." Discusses Florida, San Diego, Caribbean, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Roatan.

Gina Lynn Carson, M.Ed: "New Jersey Shore/Beach Accessibility"
An assistive technology consultant blogs on NJ beaches and provides info (and links) for the whole state.

Guide to Hilton Head Beaches

Discusses these SC beaches and provides wheelchair access info.

Virginia Tech post: "Hokie's Help Create Fully Accessible Beach Park"
An article on the unique Grommet Island beach park and playground for every "body." 

Upcoming Events

iDevices in the Schools: Communication
and More!

Presented by Easter Seals
July 11th, 2011
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Easter Seals
256 Union Street, New Bedford, MA 02740

This workshop will take a look at iDevices and how they can be used to support students in their efforts to be successful communicators at school.
Registration deadline is one week prior to workshop.
Cost: $75.00
Email Jeff McAuslin or call 800 244-2756 ext. 448

Join the iCrowd! Get the most from your iPad/iPod
July 14th, 2011
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Easter Seals
89 South Street, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02111
August 30th, 20011
Easter Seals
484 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608

Participants will learn skills required to use the iPOD Touch and iPAD devices effectively for organization, both in and out of the classroom.

Registration deadline is one week prior to workshop.
Cost: $75.00
Email Jeff McAuslin or call 800 244-2756 ext. 448

Check it Out: Ebooks, Audiobooks and Mobile Devices
July 20th, 2011
10 a.m. to 12 noon
Easter Seals
89 South Street, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02111

This presentation will introduce you to the various mobile devices on the market today for listening and
reading books.
Cost: $50.00
Email Jeff McAuslin or call 800 244-2756 ext. 448

Introduction to the PEARL by Freedom Scientific
July 20th, 2011
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
208 West Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Learn about this portable scanning and reading device and how it may be use to read books, newspapers, magazines, and bills.
Email Dawn Matthews or call 413-442-1562 Voice
413-499-4077 FAX

The CARE Memory Band - learn how it can be a time-saver and a lifesaver.
July 27th, 2011
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
208 West Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Email Dawn Matthews or call 413-442-1562 Voice
413-499-4077 FAX

Sensory Integration - Toys & Devices
August 3rd, 2011
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
208 West Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Come and see our newest additions to our sensory area of the AT Regional Center. We have added many new and exciting items to our inventory.
Email Dawn Matthews or call 413-442-1562 Voice
413-499-4077 FAX

Not another IPad Demo!
August 17th, 2011
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
208 West Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Learn about the newest accessories for the IPad to make them accessible to individuals with disabilities. Specialty keyboards, switches (yes, they are switch compatible) and mounts.
Email Dawn Matthews or call 413-442-1562 Voice
413-499-4077 FAX

Gear Up For School!
August 31, 2011
12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
208 West Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201

Attention all educators, Visit the center and let's talk about what types of devices and resource information you will need for the upcoming school year.
Email Dawn Matthews or call 413-442-1562 Voice
413-499-4077 FAX
Great Resource: The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD)
Man in wheelchair using chute with a Bocce ball
Bocce ball player using a chute


















Check out the Lifetime Sports pages of this Web site out of the University of Illinois at Chicago! Here is a wealth of information on playing and adapting nearly a dozen sports, from bocce and golf to sled hockey and Tai Chi. Learn how games are played, watch videos of players playing with adaptations, and find equipment suppliers in your area. NCPAD Lifetime Sports

Also, if you are looking for accessible and adaptive recreation and/or fitness programs this summer, NCPAD houses a state-by-state and town-by-town program directory. Find everything from adaptive sailing in Vermont to deer hunting in Arkansas, and golf in California. The directory is also a summer camps resource. NCPAD Programs Directory

NCPAD is a program of the Dept. of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois--Chicago and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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