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.
Research projects at RTC: Rural focus on community participation and independent living, health & wellness, and employment and vocational rehabilitation. Research products include: Living and Working Well with a Disability, health promotion programs for people with disabilities; Telecom Toolbox, a resource for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors; and the Transportation Voucher program available from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL).
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.
- Improve online reputation
- Show proof of skills, education, employment, and professional development on social media platforms,
- Create resumes that are optimized for applicant tracking software,
- Research employers to tailor resumes and prepare for interviews, and
- Tailor messages for various social media platforms.
In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we are showcasing the Telecom Toolbox, a website and blog dedicated to career development using social media and online methods. The Telecom Toolbox is a product of RTC:Rural research about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professional’s use of social media. While the internet has become the primary resource for job seekers and employers, VR agencies are not fully utilizing current job seeking methods. In fact, research shows that online career development practices are partially limited in VR due to counselor unpreparedness to use social media.
To address this barrier, the Telecom Toolbox includes specific ideas for how consumers and counselors can use online tools and social media platforms in a job search process. These include strategies to:
The Toolbox blog also includes various ideas for developing a VR social media outreach strategy to drive consumers to the agency. We update the blog frequently, so new content is always on the horizon. Check out the telecomtoolbox.ri.umt.edu to learn more!Continue reading about Telecom Toolbox Supports Disability Employment Awareness Month
Rural areas dominate the American landscape by as much as 72%-97% of total landmass. While fewer Americans live in rural areas (approximately 15-19%) than urban areas, they make up a larger share of Americans who are unemployed, elderly, live in poverty and who have a disability. Living in rural America can place people with disabilities at a disadvantage. For example, rural residents may encounter serious barriers to accessing services such as healthcare which are typically much sparser and more expensive than in urban areas. Ideally, community services, programs, and policies use up-to-date information to determine what is needed and for whom. However, between 2000-2013 no new information about people with disabilities in rural areas was available. This knowledge gap has negatively impacted our ability to understand or track changes in the needs of people with disabilities living in rural communities.
There is an urgent need to update current knowledge about people with disabilities living in rural America. We used 2010-2014 data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to determine the distribution and demographics of people with disabilities living in rural areas. While data from the ACS puts the national disability rate at 12.4%, disability is more common in the most rural counties (17.7%) compared to the most urban (11.7%). It is true that rates of disability in rural areas may be higher due to an older population, however, rates of disability are higher in rural areas across all ages and impairment types. Clearly, rural matters. Disability is a rural issue and one that should not be ignored. Look for more information about the geography of rural disability as we explore more data from the ACS coming soon!
Continue reading about The State of Disability in Rural America