With so many community events going online, it’s still important to remember to make sure they are accessible. While our newest toolkit was designed for use at both indoor and outdoor rural community events, there are many considerations that also apply to online events as well. The spirit of community inclusion, support and connection carries on until once again it is safe for us to gather in person at community events.
Looking for ways to help make community events more accessible? Check out RTC:Rural’s newest toolkit, the Community Assessment for Accessible Rural Events (or CAARE)Toolkit. The toolkit was created to help community members make sure their rural community events are accessible and inclusive. It includes resources such as checklists of accessibility issues and tools that help advocates conduct surveys and collect feedback from event attendees. The toolkit also contains materials with step-by-step instructions on how to analyze that feedback so it can be shared with event organizers.
and event organizers can use this toolkit to work together to plan for
accessibility, identifying realistic accessibility goals and using a simple
survey tool at the event to learn how people experience accessibility,” said
Dr. Rayna Sage, RTC:Rural Project Director.
Social distancing during COVID-19 can leave many people feeling
isolated and disconnected from their communities, which can have negative
impacts on their psychological health. For those who have high-speed internet
connections and devices that allow them to get online, virtual groups offer one
way to stay connected.
Researchers at the Rural Institute are partnering with researchers
at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas, to test ZEST, an online psychological health
promotion intervention for women with spinal cord injury (SCI). ZEST is a group
program held in Second Life, an online virtual world.
Volunteers may be eligible if they:
Are a woman at least 18 years of age
Have had a spinal cord injury
Have had their injury for at least 1 year
Have access to a computer with high speed internet
Are able to use a computer and communicate in online group conversations in English
A small payment is offered for participation.
Volunteers are being recruited now through August 2020.
RTC:Rural’s newest research brief examines how rural people with disabilities use different types of transportation. These include being a driver, asking others for rides, special transportation services, reduced-fare taxis, and public transportation.
People with disabilities, especially in rural areas, still report transportation as a significant barrier to full inclusion and participation in community life, nearly 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Understanding how people with disabilities get around is an important first step for improving transportation options.
Using data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey, this research brief explores travel behaviors and characteristics of rural and urban people with disabilities.
Guest blog post by Dr. Meg Ann Traci, RTC:Rural Knowledge Broker
The devastating and disproportionate rates of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths in institutional settings continues to be part of the national crisis. With data from the 23 states that publicly report data on deaths within long term care facilities, such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates more than one in four COVID-19 related deaths in those states (27%) occurred in such settings. The threat within these medical and personal care settings put people with disabilities and others unable to maintain and manage independence in the community, at increased risk. In rural areas, the threat to such institutionalized populations is likely even greater.
While many Americans will suffer in the coming recession, people with disabilities in rural areas are especially vulnerable because they are less likely to have an emergency savings fund, have access to paid leave, or be able to work from home.
Additionally, local and national news headline stories revealed the increased burden of the virus among residents and workers in group quarters such as prisons, nursing homes, and juvenile group homes (non-correctional). The high rates of infection and deaths at a long term care facility in Kirkland, Washington, caught the nation’s attention and refocused the public health response efforts on institutional settings.
Because people living in institutional settings are more likely to report disabilities than the general population and these settings are not evenly distributed between urban and rural areas across the United States, rural people with disabilities have a lot at stake in efforts to address the pandemic and outbreaks in institutional settings.
“Not only do you have to travel far to get to beds,” Grieman said, “You’re going to a place where there are more people, where there is also an outbreak, and those beds may also still be in high demand. So, that’s what I find particularly disconcerting.”
RTC:Rural Project Director Lillie Grieman in a recent news article on Public News Service, on why rural people with disabilities are at higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rural people with disabilities and barriers to hospital access
Rural people with disabilities face many barriers to accessing health care, particularly Intensive Care Units and hospital beds. Hospital capacity varies greatly, as does the prevalence of people with disabilities. Typically, there are fewer hospital beds and higher rates of disability in rural places than urban ones.
Project Director Lillie Greiman discusses some of these barriers in a recent news article- read or listen to the news story through the following link:
The Healthy Community
Living (HCL) Program is a collection of workshops that support opportunities
for all people to live well and participate in their communities.
HCL is usually delivered through in-person workshops. Since
in-person delivery of services is not recommended or not permitted right now as
we all live with the presence of COVID-19, we’re sharing some ways to make HCL
available to consumers remotely.
Limited offer: Access HCL
for free now through May 1
To help provide another way for people to connect to peer
support, and also for CIL staff to access professional development trainings
they can do on their own time, HCL is offering a free one-year license,
now through May 1.
Recent models from ProPublica, Imperial College, and others predict that millions of people who contract COVID-19 will be hospitalized and many hospitals across the country may not be prepared to treat the influx of patients.
People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to impacts from COVID-19, both directly and indirectly. While data about how this virus will impact the health and well-being of people with disabilities is currently limited, people with disabilities are often at greater risk of chronic health conditions, and thus may be more susceptible to infection. People with disabilities also face disruptions in services for daily needs, which could exacerbate conditions unrelated to COVID-19.
Overall, individuals who experience disability are at greater risk for being hospitalized either because they have contracted COVID-19 or because pre-existing health conditions have worsened.
Understanding the needs of a community is imperative to effectively plan for any type of emergency response, be it natural disaster or a pandemic. As people around the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of people with disabilities should not be overlooked or go unaddressed as members of those communities. To assess the impact of COVID on people with disabilities and their needs, it’s important to understand the prevalence of disability by the functional limitations of people living with disabilities experience in their communities.
According to the American
Community Survey, about 41 million, or 13%, of Americans have at
least one type of disability (ACS 2015). The vast majority (38 million) live in
households with other people and a significant number of people with
disabilities live in group quarters, which includes dormitories, nursing homes,
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.