Category Archives: News

Learn More About Our Living Well with a Disability Program in Upcoming Webinars

:ogo for Living Well with a DisabilityMark your calendars for upcoming webinars about our successful Living Well with a Disability program! On August 3rd and 24th, RTC:Rural will host two free Living Well with a Disability (LWD) technical assistance webinars.


The first webinar, Living Well Technical Assistance, is for past and current organizations that are LWD program providers and individuals who are current facilitators of the program. It will be held on August 3, 2017, from 10:00- 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time.

Living Well Technical Assistance will highlight the new Living Well Facilitator Training website and discuss changes regarding program licensing, implementation, and ongoing technical assistance. This webinar is a great opportunity for organizations who have previously held LWD workshops to get their programs up-and-running and ready to train new facilitators. Learn about the new features of the Facilitator Training website, a self-study online training that includes videos, downloadable resources, and more.

To register, please follow the link below:

Living Well Technical Assistance Webinar Registration | August 3, 2017, 10:00- 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time
For past and current Living Well program providers and facilitators


The second webinar, Living Well Intro, is for organizations and individuals who have not previously participated in the LWD program. It will be held on August 24, 2017, from 10:00- 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time. Living Well Intro will introduce LWD program content and the Living Well Facilitator Training website. It will also explain the process for an organization to become a licensed program provider and for staff to become consumer workshop facilitators. Continue reading

Finding and Using Data for Advocacy guide now available

Cover of Finding and Using Data for Advocacy How-To GuideWe are pleased to share our newly revised Finding and Using Data for Advocacy How-To Guide. Part of RTC:Rural’s new Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit, Finding and Using Data for Advocacy is a resource that can be used to supplement an advocacy skill building workshop, or as a stand-alone resource for anyone who would like to use data to support their advocacy goals.

Finding and Using Data for Advocacy explains what data is and how it is used to support advocacy, and provides links to public data sets related to disability, including RTC:Rural’s Disability Counts Data Finder, the Community & Work Disparities (ADA-PARC) website, and Disability Statistics, among others. The guide also includes prompts to guide users in determining what type of data would be most helpful for their advocacy and how to incorporate that data into their personal testimony.

Other How-To Guides featured in the Toolkit include Writing Effective Letters to Decision Makers and Creating Your Personal Testimony to Influence Policy Change, both of which are available for download on the Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit website.

The How-To Guides were developed and updated from previous products developed by the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, and are influenced by RTC:Rural’s successful Living Well with a Disability program.

New Research Explores Disability at the Household Level

A family of a man using a wheelchair, a woman, and a young man pose together outside.

Picture from Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

A new RTC:Rural Research Brief by RTC:Rural partner Christiane von Reichert, Ph.D., Professor of Geography at the University of Montana, presents research on disability rates at the household level. The brief, titled “Prevalence of Disability: Individual and Household Context,” is available for download on the Geography and Rural Disability page on the RTC:Rural website. This work highlights the number of people without disabilities who live in households with someone with a disability, and contributes to a larger study on migration and disability and rural/urban differences in disability levels.

In this study, von Reichert analyzed American Community Survey data to determine the number of households in the United States that have at least one member with a disability. She found that about 308 million Americans, or 97% of the total population, live in households. About 41 million, or 13%, of Americans have at least one type of disability, and 38 million of them live in households. The others live in group quarters, which include dormitories, nursing homes, and prisons.

Of those who live in households, 230 million are people who do not have a disability, and live in a household with no members with disabilities. Approximately 78 million people without disabilities live in households with a member who experiences a disability. This means that nearly 25% of the US population lives in a household with a member with a disability.

This analysis highlights the fact that the impact of disability goes beyond the individual level and extends to the household-level, said von Reichert, an insight that needs to be taken into consideration for future disability research and policy-making.

Our State of the Science seminar on rural VR well attended and informative

Over 120 individuals registered for our 2017 State of the Science event, “Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Job Development.” The live, participatory webinar was held June 22, 2017 and was attended by State Vocational Rehabilitation staff and administrators, researchers and job development providers from around the country. For those who missed or were unable to register for the live session, an archived recording of the webinar is now available.

The agenda featured a presentation on RTC:Rural employment research by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director of Rural Employment Research followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included: Betsy Hopkins, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation at the Maine Department of Labor; Mimi Schafer, Rehabilitation Area Manager for Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services; Jessica Adams, Program Manager for Community Connections, Inc.; Joe Xavier, Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation; and Dr. Susan Foley, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Panelist bios can be viewed here: State of the Science webinar features a panel of experts from the VR field.

Dr. Catherine Ipsen headshot

Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Rural Institute Associate Director and RTC:Rural Employment Project Director

To begin the webinar, Dr. Ipsen shared RTC:Rural demographic research by Research Associates Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers regarding rural disparities. Using American Community Survey data, Greiman and Myers examined differences in rates of poverty, employment, and those out of the labor force for people with and without disabilities in rural and urban areas.

Dr. Ipsen then presented work on two RTC:Rural employment research projects: Premature Exit from VR Services and Rural Contracted Services. “Access to timely job development services is vital to keeping people engaged in the VR program,” said Dr. Ipsen. “Many providers, however, are reluctant to serve rural areas due to barriers imposed by distance, economic opportunity, and VR payment and referral models.” Continue reading

Using Improv to Teach Advocacy: RTC:Rural Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit now available

Advocacy Toolkit Facilitator Guide coverRTC:Rural is excited to release the Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit, a new set of resources for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and others to facilitate workshops to develop the advocacy skills of emerging Independent Living leaders and youth with disabilities.

The Toolkit is a collaboration between BASE, an affiliate of Summit Independent Living in Missoula, MT, the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), and RTC:Rural staff, and was developed in response to the needs and interests of CILs and other stakeholders.

The Toolkit is available free of charge on the RTC:Rural website.

“We are so excited that we can help get this toolkit in the hands of CILs and others,” said Mary Olson, Director of Training and Technical Assistance for APRIL. “The Independent Living network has been craving tools that can be used with young adults with disabilities. Every time I talk with a CIL, they ask for exactly what this toolkit is offering. With more and more mandates for Independent Living without more funding, I see this tool being used in almost every CIL in the country as a much needed resource.” Continue reading

State of the Science webinar to feature a panel of experts from the VR field

Our 2017 State of the Science webinar on June 22, 2017 will focus on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Job Development. In addition to a review of RTC:Rural current research presented by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, the webinar will feature a panel of five experts in rural VR issues from around the country.

The webinar is designed to provide current and pertinent information that will stimulate a rich discussion among participants. Strategies to address VR outcomes will be discussed such as hybrid models that draw upon the strengths of different delivery models and the use of incentives to serve rural areas and “hard cases.”

The webinar is free, but registration is required. Registration for this event is limited and filling up quickly! If you are not able to attend the live webinar, an archive recording will be available after it is complete.

Click here for full details and to register.

Read below to learn more about each panelist. Continue reading

Mapping Disability and Employment

Improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities requires overcoming persistent rural conditions and barriers

Using data from the American Community Survey, RTC:Rural researchers created three maps to explore disability and employment. The three maps are:

  • Disability in America: Employment Rates
  • Disability in America: Unemployment Rates
  • Disability in America: Out of Labor Force

Full size images of these maps, and further analysis and text description of them, can be found on the RTC:Rural website at this link: Maps of Disability and Employment.

  • map of employment rates of people with disabilities in the US - click the link in this article for a full text description of the map
  • map of unemployment rates of people with disabilities in the US - click the link in this article for a full text description of the map
Continue reading

Showcasing RTC:Rural employment and VR research products

RTC:Rural‘s long running Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation research project explores solutions to assist rural rehabilitation service providers in helping people with disabilities achieve and maintain employment.

Over the last six months we have produced several new tools to help vocational rehabilitation professionals provide their best services. We are also holding a live State of the Science webinar on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation Job Development, to be held June 22, 2017 at 10:00am MDT.

Click the links below for more details on each item: Continue reading

State of the Science Seminar on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation Job Development, June 22, 2017

banner image for event featuring RTC:Rural logo, background image a of a rural pasture and three images of people at work

Join us on June 22, 2017 at 10:00 am MDT for RTC:Rural’s State of the Science (SOS) webinar exploring how Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) payment models influence the availability of job development services in rural areas. The webinar will help participants understand which models may facilitate better VR outcomes in rural areas, and encourage conversation between VR and providers about how payment models impact job development services.

State Vocational Rehabilitation staff and administrators, researchers and job development providers, and other interested parties are encouraged to participate.

The webinar is free, but registration is required. Registration for this event is limited and filling up quickly! If you are not able to attend the live webinar, an archive recording will be available after it is complete.

Click here for full details and to register.

Continue reading

6 Essential Elements of Social Media Policy for VR Agencies

In a recently published paper in the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin titled “Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Guidance on Social Media Use: A Policy Analysis,” RTC:Rural’s Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Director of Employment Research, and Rebecca Goe, Research Associate, examined the social media policies of 22 Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.

They found that only two VR policies covered recommended social media policy elements, and only one acknowledged social media as a tool for consumer job search.

From their analyses, Ipsen and Goe recommend six essential elements for a complete social media policy. These elements are presented in the following infographic. A full text description can be found below the image.

Access the full journal article here. Continue reading