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.


    University of Montana and University of Kansas disability researchers contribute to special journal issue

    This blog post is adapted from an article written by Allison Crist, University of Kansas

    people talking at a farmer's market, including a person using a wheelchairAll people deserve the chance to thrive in a community — but for people with disabilities, there are often obstacles to participating.

    A new special issue of the Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community explores various aspects of this topic. Dr. Craig Ravesloot at the University of Montana Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural) and two researchers at the University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living (RTC/IL) contributed to the thematic issue, “People with Disabilities and Community Participation.”

    According to Glen White, one of the issue’s two guest editors and RTC/IL director, many people with disabilities remain isolated in their communities, despite advances in independent living (which focuses on supports that enable people to live in the community) and deinstitutionalization (which moves people from nursing homes to living in the community).

    White said the five studies included in this issue focus on improving the lives of people with existing disabilities and those who are aging into disability. “As researchers in the disability field continue to investigate interventions that reduce barriers and create more opportunities to fully participate, they will positively affect many of the more than 57 million Americans with disabilities,” White said.

    Jean Ann Summers, the other guest editor and RTC/IL research director, said the special issue examines community participation from multiple angles.

    “We present research that focuses on the characteristics of individuals, like secondary health conditions, that create problems with how people live in a community,” Summers said. “Other articles examine external factors that affect how people with disabilities are able to participate in their communities.”

    For example, one study about accessible parking illustrates the way environmental changes can improve the ability of people with disabilities to get out and about. “A community needs to be welcoming and accessible,” Summers said. “This, combined with supportive programs, helps empower people. You need both.”

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    RTC:Rural Research Associate awarded prestigious research and policy fellowship

    Headshot of Jennifer Wong

    Dr. Jennifer Wong, RTC:Rural Research Associate

    Dr. Jennifer Wong, RTC:Rural Research Associate, has been awarded a Training Fellowship in Rehabilitation Policy Research with the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Healthy Aging & Physical Disability at the University of Washington (UW). The two-year fellowship consists of a year of rehabilitation research at UW, followed by a year of policy research in Washington, D.C.  Wong will join one other postdoctoral researcher to make up the fellowship’s second cohort. The fellowship will begin in October 2017.

    Wong completed her dissertation in Experimental Psychology at the University of Montana in December 2016. Her dissertation research contributes to RTC:Rural’s Ecology of Rural Disability project. She has worked with RTC:Rural on various research projects since 2014, and has contributed to RTC:Rural’s Pain Interference Patterns, Person-Environment Fit, Resilience in Community Participation, Decision Support, and Participation in Events research projects.  Wong has also contributed to the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities’ (RIIC) Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) project on rural discharge planning.

    Wong was drawn to the fellowship program at UW because of its interdisciplinary nature and its focus on aging, disability, and policy. “This is the only program that does one year of research followed by one year of policy,” she said. “They look at policy research questions, which is something that’s really close to my heart. How do we advocate, how do we move research into policy, and what does that look like?”

    During the first year of the fellowship, Wong will be in Seattle, Washington and will work with Dr. Ivan Molton, her future mentor at UW, to outline an individualized research plan for the year. Wong will connect with Dr. Molton over the summer to begin learning about the research currently being carried out by the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at UW and together they will decide what she will focus on during her year at UW. UW is currently conducting a 10-year longitudinal study, said Wong, investigating people living and aging with a long-term physical disability and their related secondary conditions, access to health care, and rehabilitation care. Because of her time at RTC:Rural, Wong would like to continue to work with large datasets. “I’d like to understand how they can be used in a way that advocates for others,” she said.

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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.