ATU2255 – Accessible Homes and Appliances with John Kelley, Glucose Sensing Wrist Band, Older Americans Month, On the Hill with Audrey Busch


Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Show Notes:
Accessible Homes and Appliances with John Kelly |
Graphene Wristband Senses Your Blood Sugar—and Treats It
Older Americans Month 2016
On the Hill with Audrey Busch from ATAP |
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——-transcript follows ——

JOHN KELLY: Hi, I’m John Kelly, Coordinator of home application services at Easter Seals Crossroads, and this is your Assistance Technology Update.

WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Welcome to episode number 255 of assistive technology update. It’s scheduled to be released on April 15, 2016.

Today our very own John Kelly is going to talk about accessible home and appliances. We’ve got a story about a new wristband that might treat your diabetes; awareness about Older Americans Month; a section from on the Hill with Audrey Bush to learn what’s happening in DC; and we hope you’ll check out our website at, submission on Twitter at INDATA Project, or call us on our listener line at 317-721-7124.


Under the heading of “Way futuristic and way cool”, the IEEE spectrum reports on a graphene wristband that senses the blood sugar of someone with diabetes and treat it. Graphene is an amazing compound. I think you’ll see a whole in the future about all kinds of bio application of graphene. Basically what they’re talking about in this situation, there is a group of researchers from Korea, Massachusetts, and Texas, and have developed this graphene material sensor. It is a cuff that goes around your wrist and monitors a bunch of things to sort of infer what your blood sugar levels are, the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Then they have this prototype rigged up with some micro hypodermic needles that would then administer the drug Formin which is often used by people who have type II diabetes to keep their blood sugars under control. They talk about the fact that this prototype device doesn’t carry enough of the drug to actually do a full treatment of a high blood sugar, nor does it deal with the effects of low blood sugar which is common for people who have diabetes, but it is sort of a very futuristic and interesting first step of a device that you wear and it is working towards being one of those closed loop systems that can monitor your blood sugar and give you the appropriate treatment to adjust it and keep it within normal limits. This article has a whole lot of technical details and talks sort of the state of the industry gets into some of the pros and cons of the approach they are taking, both in terms of monitoring and administering the medication. A whole lot going on there. I’m going to suggest that you click on the link in our show notes, go over to the IEEE spectrum and learn more about this wristband that might be very helpful for people who have diabetes. Check our show notes.


Here in the US, the federal administration on aging and administration for community living is promoting May 2016 as older Americans month. They have provided a poll bunch of tips and materials to help you plan an event related to celebrating the diversity and vitality of people who are dealing with the effects of aging. They are suggesting that you post events to highlight people who are getting a little bit older. They also have a bunch of flyers. There is one about wellness and has some healthy living tips and says about 80 percent of Americans have at least one chronic health condition. They talk about the trail to reinvention, those postretirement activities. They say that by 2029, 20 percent of Americans will be retirement age. Obviously as you think about folks with disabilities, people who are dealing with the effects of aging might have issues with vision or hearing or memory or some of those other disabilities associated with aging, and since we are releasing this episode in the middle of April, I would love for you to check out the website over at to find out how you can use these older Americans month materials to at least increase awareness and maybe even sponsor an event. And a great tool kit with all kinds of information there. I’ll pop a link in the show notes over to Check our show notes.


It’s time for on the Hill with Audrey. Audrey Busch is the director of policy and advocacy for the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs. In her update, she lets us know how the power of politics is impacting people with disabilities and their use of assistive technology. Learn more about Audrey and her work at

AUDREY BUSCH: This is Audrey Bush, policy and advocacy director for the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, coming to you with your monthly Washington update.

The Seinfeld Congress: all about nothing. So says a congressional report in Politico, as the last few weeks in Congress have demonstrated has been a bit of the game a small ball around Washington. This point was made very clear the week leading up to the Easter holiday when the GOP leaders all but conceded that they will not be able to pass a budget this year. Even though this was the parties top priority, due to intraparty fighting about how much to spend, hope for passages diminishing, meaning the potential for continuing resolution which was level funded federal government at FY 2016 levels becomes all that more likely. While the GOP led Congress has made and will continue to make every attempt to proceed with regular order in the budget process, internal disagreements make it difficult to see a path forward that leads to the passing of a final fiscal year 2017 budget.

Even though a budget deal was struck last year that covered both fiscal years 2016 and 2017, there is a faction within the GOP that disagrees that the amount allocated to spend in FY 2017. This faction of GOP representatives would like to see the additional $30 billion that’s added to this year’s overall allocation either, entirely or to find a comparable cut in mandatory spending.

Even with disagreements, GOP leadership will not let regular order go down the drain without a fight, and the chairman of the House appropriations committee, Hal Rogers, a Republican from Kentucky, stated that he plans to keep writing the appropriations bills under the assumption that last year spending agreement stand. He fully recognizes that he is powerless when it comes to bringing such bills to the house floor for a vote with no budget resolution, nor with no consent from the GOP leadership.

With all this said, there still may be a labor Health and Human Services bill developed in which many disability services are funded. It just may never see the light of the House or Senate floor for a vote. Even among internal disagreements about spending, it is likely not fair to say it is a completely do-nothing Congress as there are a few things getting done, like the House education and workforce committee passed a reauthorized older Americans act out of committee before the Easter recess which is something of note. On the other hand, while the House committees seem to be reviewing legislation, they have busied themselves on the house floor with naming post offices.

Looking to the other side of Congress, and the Senate, the largest debate is whether or not to consider the presidents of Supreme Court nominee. As the presidential election begins to dominate everyone’s newsfeeds, it will grow more and more difficult for real action to take place in Washington during this election year. While many issues will likely be reviewed during the remainder of this legislation session, the real question is if action will occur. It is very normal in a presidential election year for the legislative process too slow, but this year it seems to be slowing much earlier than normal, leaving an unlikely chance of much action at all. It will still be important to keep up-to-date on all that does end up occurring in Washington, so stay tuned for the next Washington update for us to fill you in.


WADE WINGLER: So we are going to do something a little bit interesting and different on assistive technology update. We will cross use some content here. Brian Norton and I — Brian host of ATFAQ — are in the studio, and we are joined by our good friend and home modification expert John Kelly who has been with our organization for — gosh, how long have you been here?

JOHN KELLY: A little over 10 years now.

WADE WINGLER: A little over 10 years. Wow, it doesn’t seem like we could have been here that long together. In ATFAQ recently, we had a question about appliances and accessibility and those kinds of things pick we asked John to come join us in the studio to talk about those kinds of things. We are going to use a little bit of that content in our interview today. John, you by training have a background in physical therapy and biology as I remember, those kinds of things, but you’ve been doing home modification assessments for a number of years and you are a certified aging-in-place specialist. Did I get any of that right?

JOHN KELLY: You’re right on there. Nice job. My expertise in home modification kind of evolved over time. It started with the inpatient rehab setting, going and doing a safety visit at home. It evolved to the point where now I am a certified aging in place specialist and do home modification assessments full-time.

WADE WINGLER: Excellent. We’re going to spend the rest of our time with Brian and I going back and forth with a few specific questions. We’re going to talk about some specific appliances and in-home accommodations. Here we go.

BRIAN NORTON: Our next question is from John. This is a voicemail that he left us. We will pay that for you.

SPEAKER: This is John calling from Ocean Pines. I called a couple of weeks ago. I do have an area that the crew on ATFAQ could discuss. That is an article about accessible appliances. My wife and I are thinking about purchasing several new appliances, and I would like to have a discussion group on it. I think would be very helpful. As a side note, I tried to find the article on your webpage and have never been on it before. I couldn’t find it. I’m sort of flying blind here. Have a great day.

BRIAN NORTON: Essentially his question is wanting to discuss some accessible appliances and those kinds of things. He referenced a recent blog post we did hear through the INDATA Project which is Indiana’s Assistive Technology Act Project. You can find that information at You can go there and search through our blogs. We did do a recent post on that so you can find it there. I invited a resident expert here with our agency, John Kelly. He actually does lots of home modifications. You want to tell folks a little bit about you?

JOHN KELLY: Thanks Brian. I’m John Kelly. My background is in rehabilitation. I worked in a lot of hospital and outpatient settings helping people after an injury or overcoming a disability and being able to get back home. Last 8 to 10 years, I’ve been doing home modification evaluations and consulting with folks in their homes about ways to make their homes more accessible and more safe for them to be able to get done what they need to do at home and be able to access the community as well. Through that, I learned a lot about the different products and ways to make somebody’s home more accessible.

WADE WINGLER: Around here we consider you the McIver of all things so modification.

BRIAN NORTON: That’s right.

JOHN KELLY: I’ve been called worse.

BRIAN NORTON: That’s great. Let’s talk about a starting point. Where do people start when they need to start thinking about designing a kitchen or accessible appliance and those kinds of things. Is there a place to start?

JOHN KELLY: Unfortunately there is not really a showroom for accessible design. There is not an accessible appliance showroom. Really the best place to start with think about it is starting with what you’re going to use the space for and trying to plan the function of the space around what it is you’re going to do. So kind of working through the process of cooking a meal or doing the laundry and then trying to set up your area like that. Having said that, the big box home stores do have lots of appliances on display, and it is a great place to go and try everything out. A lot of that is personal preference and has to do with your budget and the size and space of what you have available. Going to those big box stores is a great place to go try things out. There are lots of accessible features on appliances that aren’t necessarily marketed accessible just because of the universal design movement. There are so many things now, buttons and switches, the way doors open, and cabinets that are in the general public that you can go out and try. I definitely recommend doing that. If you’re trying to decide between one or another, going to one of these stores and trying out the different features is pretty necessary before you spend money on something.

BRIAN NORTON: Those are places like Menard’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s. I’m sure in your neck of the woods you probably have other places. Those are the big box stores you are referring to.

WADE WINGLER: I love that you talked about thinking about the task first. That’s so true in almost all of assistive technology. People will say what is a good app for this or what is a good thing for that. What are you going to do with it and let’s start from there because that makes all the difference in the world.

JOHN KELLY: That is true also. The individual is the other big part of that. People ask me what the right height is for a counter top. It depends. What is the height that you’re at? That is the right height. Going and trying different heights and trying the way doors open different directions and finding the one that works for your situation is the right height.

WADE WINGLER: It might be worth mentioning that there are ADA guidelines that talk about public accommodations and averages and things like that. That doesn’t necessarily hold true in the home. Those might be good places to start, but customizing it to that individual’s needs is the key.

JOHN KELLY: Absolutely. You hear good and bad about ADA guidelines. There is a lot of research that went into ADA guidelines in a lot of averages, like you said. I reference it all the time as a starting point and then go one direction or the other based on the individual’s needs.

BRIAN NORTON: We talked about the universal design movement and the fact that in putting things that aren’t necessarily marketed as accessible but are pretty accessible technologies in today’s types of appliances, stoves, dishwashers, those kinds of things. I’ve been in some kitchenware there is this uber accessibility where they are height adjustable and maybe they can move and do different things like that. Are there places to look for those, or are those kind of custom-made situations?

JOHN KELLY: I’m not aware of a showroom where you can look at that. There are websites and you can definitely spend the money on those. They are height adjustable cabinets, sinks, countertops, and they all have their own motors and accessible switches and you can adjust the height and it makes them universal. That tends to be a price point thing. For those that can afford it, it is the gold. The more moving parts you have, the more things that can go wrong, will go wrong. Those things are not always the best depending on your skill level or your resources for maintaining it in the future as well. That is another thing I think needs to be considered if you’re looking at those types of high-dollar, high-tech modifications.

BRIAN NORTON: I would figure getting your hands on something by being able to go in touch and experience it would give you a really good understanding. We do that with all of the electronics aids for daily living and assistive knowledge that we use. We want to bring lots of things for the person to be able to try out and experience before they make that purchase to make sure it is going to work for them. But if you can’t get your hands on it, there is no showroom to experience how it moves and operates, that’s probably a hard decision.

If people are looking for or need assistance in this area, are there places they can call to be able to have someone like you come out and help consult in those types of situations?

JOHN KELLY: There are. Here in central Indiana, we provide that service. I make a referral to us through Easter Seals Crossroads. We provide comprehensive evaluation. There are folks all across the country that do this. One resource for finding those folks is the CAPS certification, certified aging in place specialist. Oftentimes if you look for someone who is a CAPS specialist as well as a therapist, a physical or occupational therapist, that is a great pairing of skill sets. Someone that understands rehabilitation but also disease process and then has had this specialty training in this area can provide an evaluation to help determine what your needs are.

BRIAN NORTON: Talking about different features, we are talking about the kitchen design and the appliances. Are there certain features people to consider when they’re looking at accessible appliances?

JOHN KELLY: Absolutely. I use the caveat about designing the space first. That’s definitely true. But then also when you’re looking, there are features that I have found with experience to be helpful. When you talk about ovens, the wall mount ovens, the wall installed ovens are everywhere now. They can be installed at pretty much any height. So if you think about those really high ones, they may not be accessible for someone in a wheelchair, but if it is installed in a cabinet at a custom height, that becomes accessible. One of the things I look for is can you reach the controls and also what are you going to do with that food as you pull it out of the oven and where is it going to go. Having the rack at the right height to be able to remove the food in place it on a worksurface are two of the things you want to look for. They also make ovens with side-hinge doors to flip that door out of the way, sort of like your microwave oven does. That way you can design your space based on which way the door will go so I can move the food in the opposite direction.

A couple other appliances, let’s say stove tops. Have you seen the glass stove tops? They are out there and can be installed in a countertop with open underneath so someone needs to roll up underneath it. It’s a stovetop that has a glass surface and can be mounted pretty much flush with the work surface so that pots and pans can slide on and off rather than having to lift them on and off. They also have these induction stove tops where the surface doesn’t even get warm. Only the pot or pan gets warm. It’s easy to prevent burns that way. These are sort of a price point item that can be expensive but is a wonderful safety future.

One of my favorite ones is the cabinet dishwasher. Have you seen these? It looks almost like a cabin in your kitchen. Instead of opening up and having pots and pans in there, you open it up and there is your dishwasher. It opens up kind of like a drawer and then you load it and close it just like a drawer. They are smaller capacity but they install right in the cabinet and are very easy for a variety of uses to access.

BRIAN NORTON: That’s excellent.

JOHN KELLY: Let me just mention laundry as well, another appliance that folks – the biggest thing with laundry is providing the space, the access. So getting the laundry on the level of the home you can get at and then planning the workspace. Where are you going to bring the laundry in? Where are you going to sort it? Where are you going to fold it? Planning which direction the doors are going to open so that you don’t have a door in your way as your moving clothing from one to the other. It’s another one of these universal design areas. The front loaders are everywhere and everyone is using them, but they are much more accessible for most folks. The biggest key is the height. Getting a cabinet underneath or even just a box or something that you can build a custom height to get the laundry at the right height for that user is one of the biggest keys.

WADE WINGLER: Those are great. Are there anymore?

JOHN KELLY: The refrigerator freezer. It’s another universal design. You’ve seen so many different designs come out in the last few years about which way the doors open and where the placement of the freezer is. This is one I absolutely recommend going to the appliance store and shopping run because a lot of it is personal preference. The big favorite right now that most folks are loving is the double open doors on top, refrigerator on top with two French style doors, and then a drawer freezer on the bottom. The drawer freezer you can pull out and be off to one side and be able to access the freezer. The refrigerator you can open from the center and be able to access most things. They do have ADA designated refrigerator freezers as well where everything is sort of before 54 inches so that most users can reach the entire refrigerator. Of course the indoor ice and water is another feature that everybody loves but is a great accessibility feature well. Small appliances are often difficult to access, so a lot of cabinet designs now have special features, pull out cabinets that you can store small appliances on, pull them out. They have pullouts that are at the work surface height. They also have hydraulic lifts that you can open and will assist in lifting up a heavy appliance up to an accessible height. Storage becomes a big issue with those small appliances, but there are so many aftermarket add-ons that you can get for the storage of the small appliances.

WADE WINGLER: So, John, that is a ton of great information. If people wanted to contact you at Easter Seals Crossroads, what kind of contact information would you provide? If folks are outside of Indiana or elsewhere in the world, how would you recommend they get connected to information about the stuff?

JOHN KELLY: Through our website is probably the best place to start. I don’t even know what our website is.

WADE WINGLER: I do. It is There is a search box there where you can put either John Kelly to find you or you can put in home modification and find your particular program.

JOHN KELLY: That is correct. I think you can even type in questions for us and follow up with either a phone call or an email to follow up and either consult with you on a question, or if you need referral we can help you with that as well.

WADE WINGLER: And we talked about if folks are not in central Indiana, is it CAPS that they need to reach out to to find a local person?

JOHN KELLY: That is probably the best place to start, the CAPS certification, Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Looking for someone that has that also with expertise in rehabilitation is probably your best starting place.

WADE WINGLER: Excellent. That’s over at the, National Organization of Homebuilders. Is that right?

JOHN KELLY: Correct.

WADE WINGLER: So if you go over to and look for CAPS, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, you will find a listing of folks in your area.

John Kelly is our home modification expert here at Easter Seals crossroads and has been our guest on assisted budget update. John, thank you so much.

JOHN KELLY: Thank you, Wade. Thanks for having me, Brian.

BRIAN NORTON: Thank you.

WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.


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