Last week, RTC:Rural was in Connecticut for the Consortia of
Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR) 2019
mid-year conference held in Mashantucket, CT. RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine
Ipsen, Research Associate Dr. Meredith Repke, and Knowledge Translation
Associate Lauren Smith met with advisor partners and presented the progress to
date on the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Self-Employment Toolkit.
CANAR meetings bring together representatives from tribal VR
programs across the country two times each year. “The meetings provide an
important opportunity to share our work and gather additional stakeholder input
about efforts to translate our self-employment materials for tribal VR
programs,” said Ipsen.
The Rural Transportation Options project, which will help
build a more complete understanding of how rural people with disabilities use
public and other forms of accessible transportation, is getting ready to begin
a pilot survey. Paper surveys will be available on public buses in Park County,
Montana later this year. There are also options to take the survey online, or
to call in and take it over the phone.
The survey includes questions about what type of
transportation the participant is using for the current trip, the purpose of
their trip, if the trip was scheduled ahead of time, and types of
transportation used in the last 30 days.
“This brief ridership survey will help us: 1) understand how
people use public transit in Park County, MT and 2) shape our survey materials
and procedures for dissemination nationwide,” said Andrew Myers, RTC:Rural
Over the past semester, RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine Ipsen worked with University of Montana (UM) undergraduate Nelson Weaver on his senior capstone project about the effects of loneliness on the aging population. Weaver’s poster presentation won a best presentation award at UM’s Conference of Undergraduate Research. He graduated in May 2018 with a major in psychology and a minor in communication studies.
Weaver contacted Ipsen about his interest in psychology and well-being of those experiencing mental and physical impairments and asked about possible capstone research opportunities. “This inquiry came at the perfect time,” said Ipsen. “I was juggling lots of projects, but wanted to make headway on a grant proposal idea focused on aging and health impacts of loneliness. Nelson was the perfect fit.”
Dr. Rayna Sage, RTC:Rural Project Director, and Erin Flores,
a former sociology undergraduate researcher at the University of Montana who
graduated in 2018, recently co-authored a book chapter on the accessibility of
rural community events. The chapter, titled “Disability and rural events: The cultural reproduction of inclusion and
exclusion” is in Marginalisation and Events, which
was published in January 2019 by Routledge.
“Rural community events are a time when community members
are able to see how they are part of something bigger than their own individual
experience,” said Sage. “Seeing friends and family and participating in
activities that promote community identity helps sustain community and
On April 23, Dr. Meredith Repke, RTC:Rural Research
Associate, will present findings from the Rural
Access to Health Insurance and Health Care study, a partnership
between RTC:Rural and the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living
(CHRIL), at the 2019 NARRTC conference.
This year’s conference theme is “Inclusive Disability Research and Practice:
Building on our History.” The study is being led by RTC:Rural Director Dr.
Repke is presenting as part of a panel of researchers on the
project who are sharing different findings from the 2018 National Survey on
Health Reform and Disability (NSHRD). CHRIL conducted the survey to understand
how changes in health care reimbursement strategies affect working-age people
with disabilities in terms of access to health insurance, as well as associated
health care and quality of life outcomes. RTC:Rural researchers helped recruit
people with disabilities from rural areas, and will use their data to answer
some rural-specific questions.
Rights & Resources, a Center for Independent Living in
Birmingham, Alabama, is using RTC:Rural’s Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit to
introduce and teach advocacy skills to youth with disabilities by conducting
workshops across Alabama. With assistance from a grant from the Alabama Council on
Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights & Resources was
able to hire a Community Empowerment Specialist to organize the advocacy
“We learned about the toolkit from APRIL [the Association of
Programs for Rural Independent Living],” said Elizabeth Patton,
Program Coordinator at Disability Rights & Resources. “Using
improvisational skills seems like a fun and engaging way to build advocacy,
especially in youth,” she said. “Looking over this toolkit, it was really nice
to have everything we needed already summed up into one Facilitator Guide with
accompanying Power Point presentations.”
Looking for information on accessible transportation or
housing? Or for strategies to help you talk about your disability in a job
interview? Need some tips on how to find a personal care assistant, or on how
to do your taxes?
For all those and more, check out the Rural Disability Resource Library. It contains fact sheets, how-to guides, information for conducting workshops, web resources, and much more!
On February 28, 2019, RTC:Rural director Dr. Catherine Ipsen presented a webinar for Project E3: Educate, Empower, and Employ, the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Technical Assistance Center for Targeted Communities. Project E3 works with state VR agencies and partners across the U.S. to help people with disabilities from underserved communities achieve their independent living and employment goals.
RTC:Rural is excited to share that we’re relaunching #MapMonday, our weekly map series. Every Monday, we’ll share a new map on our social media channels. Follow RTC:Rural on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn so you don’t miss a map! (But don’t worry if you do miss one—they’re all available on our website).
In the coming weeks, we’ll share maps with overall disability rates, disability rates by difficulty and functional limitation (such as vision, hearing, mobility, and self-care difficulty), veterans, poverty, and employment rates.
“The purpose of the Research Review was to showcase research projects that harness administrative data to improve services for people with disabilities,” Ipsen said. “In addition to representatives from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), several researchers described projects that used administrative data to answer and inform research questions.” Continue reading →