United Spinal gives Users First a boost

Thursday, May 12, 2011

JACKSON HEIGHTS, N.Y. - Users First announced last week that it has joined forces with the United Spinal Association, allowing the organization to amplify the wheelchair consumer's voice.

"The industry has been asking for a strong, united consumer voice of people that use wheelchairs," said Ann Eubank, executive director of Users First. 

Users First seeks to ensure appropriate access to rehab equipment and the nonprofit United Spinal Association advocates for and offers programs and services to individuals with disabilities.

Eubanks said that the resources of the much larger and more established United Spinal Association would bring Users First's grassroots efforts to a whole new level. 

"With United Spinal's rich legacy and Users First's mission, we now have the resources, membership and collaboration to bring forth the voice of the consumer like never before," she said. "We will deliver a powerful national program."

Eubank's efforts to change policy will become part of the United Spinal Association's own public policy program, said Paul Tobin, president and CEO of the association. 

"We've been working on things like competitive bidding, and access to durable medical equipment and complex rehab technology," said Tobin. "These are things that affect our members. Ann is a complementary piece of this in the way she promotes the self-advocacy method."

Any effort to increase consumer involvement in the industry's advocacy efforts is a good thing, said Don Clayback, NCART executive director. 

"United Spinal is a well-established organization," he said. "This is a nice addition to the organization and their mission to offer people with disabilities products they need and related services."

Eubank will stay on as executive director of Users First and will take on the title of vice president of community affairs at United Spinal Association.