University of Montana Rural Institute

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

MainHallwithSquirrelThe 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.

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.


    Revised Transportation Voucher Toolkit available for FREE

    What's at the top of RTC:Rural's holiday wish list? Accessible transportation for people with disabilities in rural communities!

    Looking for some new ideas and resources to help with transportation in your area? Then check out the revised Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program.

    Transportation, especially in rural areas, continues to be one of the main issues that people with disabilities deal with on a daily basis. To help address this barrier to community participation, RTC:Rural and the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) developed the Rural Transportation Voucher Program. This Toolkit was recently updated and can now be downloaded for free from the APRIL and RTC websites.

    Flyer for the Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program. Full text description found below image.

    Email Lauren Smith (lauren.smith@mso.umt.edu) for a high-resolution PDF file of the flyer.

    Text description:

    Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program. Updated 2017. Learn how to bring together community members and resources to create a transportation system for people with disabilities in rural areas.

    Why try a voucher program?

    • Relatively low-cost
    • Promotes cost-sharing among service agencies, riders, and transit providers
    • Riders can get rides when and where they want
    • Gives riders more choices in where they live and work
    • Emphasis on rider needs, not agency considerations

    Download the toolkit here:

    For individual training and technical assistance, contact APRIL Executive Director Billy Altom at bwaltom@sbcglobal.net.

     

    For more information about the Toolkit, individualized training in the voucher program model, and technical assistance, please contact APRIL Executive Director Billy Altom at bwaltom@sbcglobal.net.

     

     

    Continue reading about Revised Transportation Voucher Toolkit available for FREE

    Home Usability Program works to address immediate housing needs for people with disabilities

    Wheelchair user trying to maneuver within confined kitchen space.

    For people with disabilities, usability issues can be both within and outside of the home.

    The need for accessible housing far exceeds the availability. While there are disability advocacy groups working to make changes in housing policies at the national level, those changes don’t happen overnight. In the next few decades, the need for affordable, accessible housing is only going to increase as the American population ages. In rural areas, where people are already more likely to be unemployed, living in poverty, elderly, and have a disability, this housing need will be especially severe.

    “People can’t always move into accessible, affordable housing, or at least not right away,” says Lillie Greiman, RTC:Rural Research Associate. “So we’re asking, ‘What can we do to help those people right now?’”

    To address immediate housing issues for people with disabilities, RTC:Rural researchers are working with partners at the University of Kansas on the Home Usability Program. The Home Usability Program helps people with disabilities to assess usability issues with their homes, and connects them with the resources they need to make changes.

    Closeup of a person's hand on a lever-style door handle

    An example of an improved usability issue: replacing round door knobs with easier-to-use lever door handles. Picture from www.HealthyCommunityLiving.com.

    The Home Usability Program is part of the Research and Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living (RTC/PICL), a collaboration between researchers at the University of Kanas and the University of Montana. Dr. Craig Ravesloot, RTC:Rural director, co-directs the center with Dr. Glen White at the University of Kansas. Greiman is the Project Director of the Home Usability Program.

    Currently, researchers are in the first phase of the Home Usability Program, says Greiman. The program is partnering with two Centers for Independent Living, one in Montana and one in Kansas, to work with individuals to make usability improvements to their homes. Participants must be over 21, have a physical disability, and live in the community.

    First, the team works with the individual to identify usability issues within their homes. Then, the researchers work with the local CILs to develop a network of local resources that can help address those issues. The focus of the program is to identify smaller-scale improvements that can be made quickly and relatively inexpensively—for example, installing new faucet handles on the sink for easier use, or grab bars in the bathtub.

    Ultimately, the Home Usability Program will consist of two parts: a screening tool for people with disabilities to use to identify usability issues in their homes, which includes recommendations on how to solve some common issues; and a guide for CILs to develop their own networks of local resources to help consumers make these usability changes.

    “The Home Usability Program is about giving you control over your home environment, making it easier and safer to use your home,” said Greiman. “If people have usable homes, they can live independently and participate in their communities.”

    A drawing of two cartoon houses.

    The Home Usability Program works with Centers for Independent Living to help people with disabilities make improvements to their homes.

    To learn more about the RTC/PICL and the Home Usability Program, check out:

    Research & Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living

    Home Usability for People with Disabilities

    Success Story: Home Usability for People with Disabilities

    Continue reading about Home Usability Program works to address immediate housing needs for people with disabilities

 

What does RTC: Rural do?

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