Winter Quarter 2021

Perspectives in Assistive Technology


David L. Jaffe, MS
Online via Zoom
Tuesdays & Thursdays from 4:30pm to 5:50pm PT

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Thursday, March 4th

photo of Olenka Villarreal

Virtual Field Trip to the Magical Bridge Playground
Olenka Villarreal
Founder and CEO of the Magical Bridge Playground

Magical Bridge playground logo

Abstract: Despite the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is astounding that most playground designs still fail to consider the 1 in every 4 of us living with a visible or invisible disability today. A park outing with her whole family was behind Olenka's vision to create a new kind of playground, so she could play with both her daughters who had very different needs. The urgent need to create playgrounds that would (far) surpass ADA standards was the drive behind the creation of the Magical Bridge playground whose goal was to bridge the gap between those with and without disabilities in a most magical way! Olenka and a team of volunteers raised over $4M to make the first Magical Bridge Playground a reality in Palo Alto's Mitchell Park. After opening in June 2015, it received worldwide recognition as the "nation's most innovative inclusive playground" and was even featured at the 2019 Davos World Economic Forum. Due to demand for more like it, Magical Bridge Foundation was created in 2016 and there are now 12 Magical Bridge destination playgrounds under way locally and around the world. In addition to the magical spaces they create, the foundation provides truly inclusive multigenerational programs for every "body" to enjoy - both on and off the playgrounds.

Biosketch: With an undergraduate degree from Pomona College and MBA from Golden Gate University, Olenka Villarreal spent 18 years working with start-up and technology companies in Silicon Valley. When her second daughter was born with disabilities in 2003, she turned her focus on improving the quality of life of those with disabilities. Olenka serves on various boards, including for AbilityPath and Life Services Alternatives. Olenka has received recognition and awards for her pioneering work on Magical Bridge and holds a few design patents for inclusive playground equipment.

Contact information:
Lecture Material:
Pre-lecture slides- 10.99 Mb pdf file
Virtual Field Trip Material:
Photos from 2020- 1.56 Mb pdf file
Photos - 2.94 Mb pdf file
New Playgrounds: Morgan Hill - Redwood City - Sunnyvale
Today's Playground - Why isn't it designed for everyone?
A Playground for the Entire Community - Nicole Ofiesh & Lisa Poller - 10/12/2018
15 Coolest Playgrounds in the United States
"Kindness is Magical"
Palo Alto’s Magical Bridge Playground serves as model for other cities
Sunnyvale to build an ‘all-abilities’ playground at Fair Oaks Park
All-Access Play
Jefferson Award Winner Creates a Playground to Include Kids of All Abilities (with video 3:06) - 07/09/2014
Ground Breaks on Magical Bridge Playground - 06/24/2014
Palo Alto breaks ground on Magical Bridge Playground - 06/23/2014
Magical Bridge Playground on Facebook
Stepping Sounds - George Zisiadis
Building a Magical Bridge for All Children - Bay Area Parent
Magical Bridge Playground in Redwood City
Magical Bridge Playground in Mountain View
How to Make Laser Cut Maps of Your City
A playground for everyone, no matter your age or ability (video 7:16)
Building The Bridge Documentary about Magical Bridge Playgrounds (video 9:48)
Magical Bridge Foundation's Inclusive Playground for All Ages and Abilities (video 2:36)
Intentional Design (TEDx Talk video 20:49)
Magical Harp at The Magical Bridge Playground (video 3:05)
Magical Laser Harp - (video 0:52 by artist, Jan Lewin)
Virtual Tour of Magical Bridge Playground coming to Sunnyvale's Fair Oaks Park (video 1:00)
We All Deserve a Place to Play - Jill Asher (TEDx video 16:20)

photo of Graham Creasey

What Kind of Assistive Technology Do You Need if You Break your Neck?
Graham H. Creasey, MD, FRCSEd
VA Palo Alto Health Care System

This is a virtual field trip to the VA Palo Alto Health Care System campus in the Spinal Cord Injury Service.

Abstract: Breaking your neck can affect nearly every part of your life. Physically, you may be paralyzed from the neck down, with no feeling in the body, unable to control your bladder or bowel or sexual function. Obviously, this affects you emotionally and socially - your education, work, house, travel, and relationships. What can assistive technology do to change this?

The industrial revolution gave us new tools, special beds, mattresses, wheelchairs and cushions, catheters, implants, and many other gadgets. The microelectronic industry has revolutionized communication and control of equipment in the environment; if you can control a computer, you can control many other things. What about controlling paralyzed muscles? What about curing paralysis?

Biosketch: Graham Creasey was formerly the Chief of the Spinal Cord Injury Service at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Paralyzed Veterans of America Professor of Spinal Cord Injury Medicine at Stanford University. He attended the University of Edinburgh Medical School in Scotland and completed specialty and sub-specialty training and accreditation in Surgery and Spinal Injuries at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He continues to be actively engaged in research, mainly on the restoration of bladder, bowel and sexual function using electrical stimulation.

Contact information:
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Spinal Cord Injury Service
3801 Miranda Ave.
Room C115, Building 7
Palo Alto, CA  94304
gcreasey -at-
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders (SCI/D) Center
Palo Alto Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center
Spinal Cord Injury / Disorder Center
Virtual Field Trip Material:
Photos - 2.12 Mb pdf file
VA Assistive Technology Center brochure - 219 Kb pdf file
Meeting our returning combat veterans in the classroom - Jonathan R. Sills, PhD - 2010

photo of Jessica Radmilovic

Adaptive Sports
Shawna Hill, CTRS, RYT; Jessica A. Radmilovic, CTRS; and Huy B. Diep
VA Palo Alto Health Care System

Abstract: Therapeutic Recreation is based upon a holistic framework that allows the focus to be on all aspects of improving an individual’s health and functioning. By providing structured and unstructured therapy driven services, Therapeutic Recreation may be used for:

  • Improving physical abilities
  • Building confidence
  • Promoting greater self reliance
  • Developing and/or enhancing of leisure awareness and leisure skills
  • Strengthening interpersonal skills
  • Empowering veterans to advocate for positive self growth and change
  • Exploring options for rehabilitation and health through adaptive sports, recreation, and leisure
  • Enriching and creating a meaningful quality of life

Biosketches: Shawna Hill is a lead recreational therapist at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto. Her job is to find unique ways to recuperate injured veterans and help them lead fulfilling, healthy lives. This includes leading local veterans in wheelchair games, managing athletics for veterans and patients, or inventing therapeutic activities such as arranging the branches on a miniature Christmas tree.

Biosketches: Jessica A. Radmilovic is a lead recreational therapist at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto.

Biosketches: Huy B. Diep is a recreational therapist at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto.

Contact information:
Shawna Hill, CTRS
Recreational Therapist
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
3801 Miranda Ave., Building 7
Palo Alto, CA  94304
shawna.hill -at-
Adaptive Sports
Painting with Earl

Updated 03/05/2021

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