Category Archives: News

Living Well Intro Webinar videos now available

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Unable to attend the Living Well Intro webinar we hosted on August 24, or want to review the information covered? Then you’re in luck—the video recordings are now available to view online. There are two recordings from the webinar:

Program overview portion of webinar

The first webinar recording features RTC:Rural Training Associate Maggie Lawrence giving an introduction to the Living Well with a Disability (LWD) program. In the video, she introduces LWD program content and the Living Well Facilitator Training website. She also explains the process for an organization to become a licensed program provider and for staff to become consumer workshop facilitators.

View the LWD Program Overview video here: Living Well with a Disability Intro Webinar: Program Overview

Guest speakers portion of webinar

The second recording features three guest speakers who describe implementing LWD at their CILs: Bert Rios, Outreach Coordinator at S.M.I.L.E. in Yuma, Arizona; Dermot Thiel, Program Director at Wyoming Independent Living in Laramie, Wyoming; and Jude Monson, Program Manager at Summit Independent Living in Missoula, Montana.

The speakers share their insights and experiences of using the LWD program with their organizations, and answer questions from webinar participants about their variations on implementing the program. Rios, Thiel, and Monson each have years of experience implementing the Living Well program with diverse populations and offer their perspectives on program impact, adaptability and sustainability.

View the Guest Speaker video here: Living Well with a Disability Intro Webinar: Guest Speakers Continue reading

Resources for inclusive emergency prep and response

two people push a person in a wheelchair through a flooded street

Photo by habeebee / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Current natural disasters, including the wildfires burning across the Western United States and the hurricanes impacting the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard, require us to look at the best practices and resources available to support all people, including those with disabilities, in preparing for and dealing with emergencies. In rural America, where it can be challenging to access resources on a good day due to geography, transportation, or scarcity, inclusive preparation and response is especially important.

Here are a couple resources that RTC:Rural and our partners recommend that can help people with disabilities plan for and recover from emergencies and other natural disasters.

Emergency Preparedness Toolkit

The Montana Disability and Health Program (MTDH) Emergency Preparedness Toolkit contains resources to help individuals with disabilities, their families, caretakers, and communities plan and prepare for emergency situations. The toolkit’s purpose is to increase awareness of inclusive emergency preparedness planning, and to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency planning, from the individual to the community and state levels.

The Toolkit contains information on many topics, including:

  • How to register and record medical information so it can be clearly communicated with medical personnel during an emergency
  • How to assess emergency shelters for accessibility
  • First aid tips for pet owners
  • Emergency driving tactics and tips
  • How to promote involvement of people with disabilities in the planning stages of emergency preparedness

FTA Hurricane Harvey Information for Transit Agencies

In addition, Billy Altom, the Executive Director of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, shared this information from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) about Hurricane Harvey and the FTA Emergency Relief Program, which contains useful information for transit agencies who receive FTA funds. Continue reading

Become a certified Working Well with a Disability facilitator- register now!

Working Well with a Disability

September means back to school, changing leaves, pumpkin spice-flavored everything and… Working Well with a Disability Facilitator Training!

Registration for the September 2017 Working Well with a Disability online facilitator training is now open. The training will take place the week of September 18. Space is limited, so please only register if you know you can attend. Registration closes on September 11, 2017.

Working Well with a Disability Facilitator Training Details

Training dates: Sept. 18-22. Training includes online self-study and discussion participation and a live webinar on Sept. 22.

Total time required: 8-10 hours (estimate) over 5 business days, in addition to time to read the Working Well manual.

Cost: $130 per person. Cost includes a manual in your preferred format.

Registration deadline: Sept. 11

How to register: Visit Working Well Sept. 2017 Training Registration

After registration, you will receive an email containing a training schedule, a training overview, and the link with instructions to finalize your registration and payment.

Once you’ve registered, you should also have your agency review and agree to the Organizational Licensing Agreement, which is found here: Working Well Organizational Licensing Agreement Continue reading

Does your bathroom routine drain your battery? How effort and exercise shape community participation

A bathroom with a shower chair and a grab bar in the shower.

Shower chairs and grab bars are some of the adaptive bathroom equipment used in this study. Photo from Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

What do showering, brushing your teeth, and “visiting the porcelain throne” have to do with energy levels and community participation? More than you might think, especially for people with mobility impairments.

Effort Capacity and Choice, a current research project at RTC:Rural led by Andrew Myers, is working to better understand how what happens in the bathroom impacts what happens outside of the bathroom. The project is a collaboration between the RTC:Rural, the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, and the New Directions program within the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana.

Previous RTC:Rural research has shown that many people who use mobility equipment live in homes that do not meet their needs, specifically in regards to the accessibility of their bathrooms and the entrances to their homes. 56% live in homes with inaccessible bathrooms, and 57% live in homes with a stepped entrance.

This is especially troubling as the need for affordable, accessible housing is only going to increase in the next few decades with an aging American population. 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.

RTC:Rural analysis of the American Time Use Survey has also shown that people with mobility impairments bathe less often, and when they do bathe they spend more time doing so. The Effort Capacity and Choice project builds on this information by investigating whether the amount of effort a person thinks they must exert affects their choices to be active at home and in their community. Continue reading

Figuring out how young adults with disabilities participate in rural community events

RTC:Rural’s research on accessible community events has a new focus. Dr. Rayna Sage, RTC:Rural Research Associate, is leading our Participation in Rural Events among Young Adults with Disabilities research project. The study aims to understand how young adults with disabilities in rural communities participate in community events, and how their community participation can enrich their lives and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways.

Rayna Sage at a rodeo with mountains in the background

RTC:Rural Research Associate Rayna Sage, Ph.D., at the Pioneer Days Rodeo in Ronan, MT where she was conducting in-the-moment interviews for this project

The accessibility of rural community events is directly tied to participation, and community participation can be tied to the accumulation of social capital. “Social capital is a tradeable resource that exists in a relationship. If you have social capital you can use it to gain other kinds of capital,” said Sage. “It provides opportunities to interact with other people who may have access to resources that you don’t have access to.”

These other kinds of capital could include things like favors, experiences, or a job. Another way to think of it could be as “cashing in” on a friendship or social connection in order to secure some sort of benefit, such as a job at a family friend’s store, or access to a behind-the-scenes space at a public event for someone who needs a place to sit in the shade and rest.

Having social capital could be especially important in rural communities, and could help overcome some of the limitations faced by young adults with disabilities as they transition into adulthood. “It’s a vulnerable period for most people, the transition after high school into whatever they’re going into, but for young adults with disabilities it’s even more critical for them to engage in meaningful activities that are going to enhance their lives,” said Sage.

Sage’s previous work has pointed to how the inequality gap between poor/working class and middle/upper class young adults grows during the period of transition into adulthood, even if they go to college. Now, in this new study, she hopes to see if the social capital in rural communities can help young adults with disabilities compensate for some of the other inequalities and challenges they may be facing. Continue reading

Start your week off right with #MapMonday, our new “Disability in America” map series

Portion of a map showing disability rates in every county in the United StatesRTC:Rural is excited to announce the launch of “Disability in America,” a new series of maps produced from our research. Every Monday, a new map will be revealed – you may follow and share this series on social media with the #MapMonday hashtag via the RTC:Rural Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Some of the maps can be previewed on the RTC:Rural website here: Disability in American Map Series.

“Place matters. To understand rural America, you have to see rural America. These maps help build a sense of place for those who can’t road trip across America to see the diversity of rural communities themselves,” said Dr. Craig Ravesloot, RTC:Rural Director.

The “Disability in America” maps are based on demographic data collected through the American Community Survey and cover disability rates, rates of particular types of disabilities, and other status of people with disabilities such as poverty and employment. They were created as part of our Geography and Rural Disability project and have implications for organizations and agencies working on disability topics nationwide.

“These maps show that disability in the Southeast is different from Northeast, which is different the Midwest and the West. The researchers at RTC:Rural work every day to understand the variety of rural places so that our solutions are effective across rural America,” said Andrew Myers, Research Associate. Continue reading

August 24 Webinar: Learn More About Our Living Well with a Disability Program

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Mark your calendars for the August 24th webinar about our successful Living Well with a Disability program! The webinar will be presented by RTC:Rural staff and feature guest speaker Bert Rios of S.M.I.L.E. in Yuma, AZ.

Living Well Intro Webinar

This Living Well Intro webinar is designed to provide an introduction to the Living Well with a Disability (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, and conclude with implementation success stories. Several guest speakers who have experience implementing the program at their CILs will be presenting, including: Bert Rios from S.M.I.L.E. in Yuma, Arizona who will speak about implementing Living Well with youth; Dermot Thiel, Program Director at Wyoming Independent Living in Laramie, Wyoming; and Jude Monson, Program Manager at Summit Independent Living in Missoula, Montana.

Registration

To register, please follow the link below: Living Well Intro Webinar Registration | August 24, 2017, 10:00- 11:30 a.m. Mountain Time

This webinar will be closed-captioned, and a recording will be made available. For accessibility requests, please email livingwell@ruralinstitute.umt.edu. Continue reading

Consumer interviews add to Participatory Curriculum Development project

Man sitting in a wheelchair in front of several bikes hanging on the wall, talking and gesturing

Photo of an interview with Joe Stone collected for the Healthy Community Living project – an example of some of the multi-media we are collecting as part of our participatory process to make this curriculum more engaging and useful. You can view the video of the interview below.

Healthy Community Living, one of RTC:Rural’s current projects, is developing a multi-media health promotion program to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities. Have you ever wondered how we work with partners and consumers on a project like this? We call the process “Participatory Curriculum Development” and this blog post gives you an insider view of what that means!

Our project is currently working with eight Centers for Independent Living (CILs) using a Participatory Curriculum Development (PCD) procedure to create and adapt two curricula. The two project development teams consist of experienced CIL staff, peer experts in independent living philosophy, and staff members from the Associated Programs of Rural Independent Living (APRIL) and RTC:Rural.

While multi-media is a good way to represent and enhance the concepts and ideas in the content, it must also be interesting and engaging for the program user.  However, there are not many photos, videos and other media that accurately represent people with disabilities in real life settings. To overcome and change this, the development teams are using the PCD process to access existing media, create new media themselves, and engage CIL consumers in the process. This means that the content created for Healthy Community Living truly represents Real People in Real Places.

Although finding or creating media may sound simple in the age of the internet and digital technology, the process for creating multi-media content is a bit more challenging than one might think. The first step is to outline content for each curriculum. This includes identifying areas within the curriculum where multi-media presentations can enhance the content and make it more interesting and engaging.

Continue reading

Living Well with a Disability Program featured in national webinar on Building Inclusive Programs

On July 18, 2017, staff from RTC:Rural presented at the webinar “Building Inclusive Programs to Serve Adults with Disabilities,” hosted by the National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging. The webinar was well attended, with 320 participants from around the country. The webinar was recorded; click here to view the video or download presentation slides.

RTC:Rural Knowledge Translation Director Tracy Boehm Barrett and Montana Disability and Health Program Director Meg Ann Traci provided an overview of our successful Living Well with a Disability (LWD) program including its research and development history, and how it has been expanded and sustained over the years, which has been largely influenced by consumer and service provider input.

A group of seven people, three sitting in wheelchairs, at a workshop outside around a tableLWD is an evidence-based, peer-led health promotion and self-management program for adults with disabilities, recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It focuses on developing a healthy and balanced lifestyle as a vehicle to reach individual quality-of-life goals.

To date, our program has trained 1,218 Living Well with a Disability workshop facilitators, representing nearly 300 community agencies in 46 states.  Nearly 10,000 individuals with disabilities have been served through the Living Well with a Disability program.

In addition to the presentation on the development, implementation, and successes of LWD, the webinar featured a third presenter, Karl Cooper, Esq. of the American Association on Health and Disability. Mr. Cooper provided an overview of the health and disability landscape in the United States. Helpful resources and strategies for ensuring evidence-based programs are accessible for all were also featured.

“We were very pleased to be invited to participate in this webinar and share its historical research and development,” says Tracy Boehm Barrett. “Living Well has been a launch pad program to engage people with disabilities in self-management of their health in a way that recognizes the unique barriers and secondary health conditions that people with disabilities experience.  In the spirit of building inclusive communities, providing the tools and resources for managing one’s health and well-being is essential to ensuring community participation by all. We want to thank the Center for Health Aging for inviting us to present!” Continue reading

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