University of Montana Rural Institute

Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities – RTC: Rural

The Executive Summary and Research Summary document covers. Both say "Research that Leads to Solutions for Rural Americans with Disabilities," and feature images of a map of disability rates by county across the US. The Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC: Rural) conducts research on disability as part of the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana.

RTC: Rural is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to improve the ability of people with disabilities to engage in rural community living.

Read our 2-page Executive Summary: RTC:Rural- Research that Leads to Solutions for Rural Americans with Disabilities (PDF)

Read our 10-page Research Summary: RTC:Rural Research Summary_2017 (PDF)

As a NIDILRR-funded program, the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities strives to ensure people with disabilities participate in all stages of the development and implementation of research projects.  Our goal is to make sure research results and products are useful and relevant to people with disabilities, their families and service providers.

Learn more about RTC: Rural, our staff and history by checking out our About Page. Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

    Living and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators: Register today for Peer-to-Peer Call #2!

    Text description below.

    Register today for the next Living & Working Well with a Disability Facilitator Peer-to-Peer Series Call! Registration link is below.

    Mark your calendars— the second Peer-to-Peer Series conference call for Living and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators is scheduled for June 28, 2018, at 11 a.m. MT. The call topic is implementation, recruitment, and sustainability. These calls are free and open to any Living and Working Well facilitators, though registration is preferred.

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    Living & Working Well Facilitator Peer-to-Peer Series

    Second call topic: implementation, recruitment, and sustainability.

    A one-hour national conference call to bring together facilitators so we can share knowledge, experiences, and ideas!
    June 28, 2018; 11 a.m. MT (10 a.m. Pacific, 12 p.m. Central, 1 p.m. Eastern)

    Conference line 1-800-832-0736

    Room number (enter when prompted): 7785002

    To register, follow this link:

    Register for the Peer-to-Peer Series Call #2

    Curious to know more about what facilitators shared in the first Peer-to-Peer Series call? We’ve put together a “FAQ: Facilitator-Answered Questions” handout to highlight some of the gems of wisdom shared on Call #1, which was held on April 26, 2018. The topic was managing group dynamics. View a PDF and text-only version of the document by following the links below:

    These documents are also available to all Living and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators on the Facilitator Tips page of the Living and Working Well program website.

    The Living Well and Working Well with a Disability programs are evidence-based, peer-led health promotion workshops provided by organizations that serve people with disabilities. RTC:Rural provides training and certification for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and other organizations to conduct the workshops. Both programs are based on the Independent Living philosophy, which recognizes that individual choice and self-determination are essential components of living independently in the community.

    Since Living Well and Working Well began offering program training and implementation, over 1,600 facilitators have been trained in 47 states, in turn serving over 13,000 adults with disabilities. To learn more about the development of Living and Working Well, visit the RTC:Rural website project pages here:

    Interested in becoming a Living or Working Well with a Disability facilitator or provider? Visit the Living & Working Well with a Disability website or email for more information, resources, or to be added to the Living and Working Well listserv.

    Continue reading about Living and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators: Register today for Peer-to-Peer Call #2!

    “Inclusion is important, no matter what.” Graduate Seminar on Rural Disability and Health

    Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a conference in May 2017.

    Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a rural-focused workshop in May 2017.

    In the Spring 2018 semester, RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, who is also an adjunct instructor in the Sociology department at the University of Montana (UM), taught a graduate-level seminar called “Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health.”

    The main course objectives were for students to build important writing skills they can take into their academic and professional lives, primarily through learning how to conduct rapid literature reviews. This involves identifying key pieces of literature related to a specific topic, and then quickly reviewing and organizing the literature for summary.

    “The [literature review] process we learned is a time saver because you don’t have to rely on memory or scattered, unorganized articles all over your desktop. Limiting searches with exclusion and inclusion criteria is difficult but necessary because research moves so quickly. It is also necessary to gather information quickly, especially when competing for grant dollars,” said Margaret Perry, a public administration masters student and one of the three graduate students in the seminar. “I wish I had known how to do it sooner.”

    Each student completed two rapid literature reviews over the course of the semester. Their topics were chosen based on students’ specific interests, as well as on topics of interest to RTC:Rural and the disability research community. These topics included:

    • Access to food for people with disabilities
    • Health literacy for people with disabilities
    • Rural EMS and disaster preparation
    • Opioid alternatives and treatment
    • Telemedicine in rural places
    • Rural veterans with disabilities

    For all three graduate students in the seminar, Dr. Sage’s class was an introduction to disability issues. “I knew next to nothing about disability issues before this class, I was embarrassed by my ignorance! That is partly why I enrolled,” said Perry. “The thing that stands out the most for me after taking this class is that disability issues need more research.”

    “I didn’t have any knowledge about disability before the class,” said UM sociology graduate student Lauren Miller. “It came up a few times in my thesis interviews, so it was nice to take the seminar after I had conducted my thesis interviews. It gave me a deeper understanding.” Miller’s graduate thesis looks at disaster preparation on Grand Isle, a small island off the coast of Louisiana.

    A group of people in a community park enjoying a picnic. Two of the people are using powerchairs.

    RTC:Rural research on community participation and independent living focuses on the resources and accessibility of rural community life for people with disabilities. (Photo from Healthy Community Living

    “When I signed up for Rayna’s course, I was hoping to gain a broader understanding [of disability issues], a bigger perspective of what others are going through. I don’t think about disability experience everyday as a person without a disability. Now I do. I’m more aware now than ever before,” said Miller.

    This summer, Miller is working with RTC:Rural and Dr. Sage on the Participation in Rural Events among Young Adults with Disabilities research project. They will continue interviewing young adults with disabilities who live in rural communities to learn about the opportunities and experiences these young adults have with participating in community. Miller’s decision to focus on disability research for the summer was a direct influence of her experience in the seminar. “The class changed how I view city infrastructure. I realized how people with disabilities are so isolated in rural areas,” said Miller. “Inclusion is important, no matter what.”

    While Perry, who graduated with her Master’s in Public Administration this semester, will not be going into a disability-focused field, she says the course has broadened her perspective. This summer, she will be starting a new position at the Linda Massa Youth Home in Hamilton, Montana. “I am interested to see how disability is perceived in a new organization. I hope that after this seminar, I can ensure that young people with disabilities are represented in the programs of the Youth Home,” she said.

    In the future, Dr. Sage plans to offer the seminar again. ”I think a seminar like this provides emerging professionals across a number of fields the opportunity to think more deeply about disability in their work. I like to tell the students, ‘Once you are aware of how limiting our environment is for people with disabilities, you can’t unlearn it. It’s impossible not to notice the lack of curb cuts or other basic accessibility features.’ I also like that we can go deeper into cultural and social aspects that can sometimes be overshadowed  by concerns about the built environment.”

    “I learned so much,” said Miller. “There were so many examples Rayna shared, connecting the literature we read with real life. I recommend the class to anyone who is interested in learning more about the disability experience.”


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What does RTC: Rural do?

RTC: Rural is a leader in research on disability in rural communities. Visit our About page to learn more.