Category Archives: News

New video demonstrates how to use American FactFinder to lookup disability data

Cropped image of map of the United States. Map title: Disability in America: Employed with a Disability (2015).

To see the full image of this map, click here to go to the Maps of Disability and Employment- Disability in America Map series webpage.

Here at RTC:Rural, we’re into big data sets. We regularly use large national data sets, including the American Housing Survey, the American Time Use Survey, and other US Census data in our research. For example, our Geography project uses data from the American Community Survey to create these maps: Geography and Rural Disability Maps.

What do we do with these data? Disability data can be used to gain a better understanding of a community and service outreach areas, to inform policy development, or to build community outreach materials. Our researchers analyze these data so that we can help inform decisions that affect the quality of life for people with disabilities across the nation, in both rural and urban areas. Primarily, RTC:Rural analyzes disability data to identify county-level trends across the nation.

Want to look up some data for your own research, advocacy, or programs? We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re looking for national, regional, state, or county-level data, you can use these two tools to help you find the information you’re looking for. Continue reading

Advocacy and Voting Resources for People with Disabilities

Advocacy and Independent Living

Four people pose in front of a disability rights flag. Three of the people have visible disabilities. As we approach the 2018 midterm elections, disability advocates are continuing their work to make sure that lawmakers and policy influencers know how different issues affect people with disabilities. Advocacy is an important part of the Independent Living and Disability Rights movements, and has been since the beginning.

Individuals with disabilities are the best experts on their wants and needs, and have the right to make their own choices to fulfill those needs. If they are unable to fulfill a want or need, advocacy is the answer. An important part of advocacy, no matter if the goal is to help one person or many, is establishing a confident voice, developed and supported in a community of peer support.

There are many ways to help people with disabilities develop advocacy skills, and one of those is RTC:Rural’s Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit. 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. Continue reading

“We’re here to help each other live better with our disabilities:” First Living/Working Well Facilitator Peer-to-Peer Series Call a Success

A circle of clip art people surrounds the Living and Working Well with a Disability logo, Peer-to-Peer Series written underneath. RTC:Rural’s new Peer-to-Peer Series call for Living Well and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators was held on April 26, 2018. Twenty-six participants joined the conference call and shared their experiences, challenges, and successes as facilitators. The topic of the first call was managing group dynamics.

“A key difference between facilitating and teaching is that as a facilitator, you are not placing yourself in the position of expert or leader,” said RTC:Rural Training Associate Maggie Lawrence, who organized the call. “Facilitators help to guide the session and keep on track, but the control of the curriculum is given to the group. This means that the workshop sessions are heavy on discussion and peer support, and therefore each group can have a different feel and different dynamics.” Continue reading

Knowledge Translation in Action: Making Research More Accessible

Closeup hands typing on a laptopTo translate: to take something written in one language and express it in another. Or, to change something into a new form. This is precisely what RTC:Rural’s Knowledge Translation team does.

Knowledge Translation is an important part of making sure RTC:Rural’s research is accessible. Accessibility doesn’t refer to only alternative formats, such as Braille or screen-reader friendly—it’s also about making sure the content is easily understood, relevant, and useful to the people who are reading, viewing, or listening to that information. RTC:Rural’s Knowledge Translation team works to make sure that all RTC:Rural research is in the best format for its intended audience, be they people with disabilities and their families, service providers, other researchers, or policy makers.

RTC:Rural uses Knowledge Translation throughout the entire research process, from the research design phase to disseminating the final results. One recent example of this is in the collaboration between Knowledge Translation and the Effort Capacity and Choice project team. The Effort Capacity and Choice project examines the relationship between personal effort and community participation. To do so, the project studies the impacts of two interventions. In the Home Project Intervention, researchers install adaptive bathing equipment in the participant’s bathroom, reducing the amount of effort it takes to bathe and use their bathroom. In the Exercise Project Intervention, participants receive physical therapy in order to increase their physical capacity. Continue reading

Telecom Toolbox guest blogger series shares telecommunication tips

Telecom Tololbox logoRTC:Rural’s Telecom Toolbox, a website that helps people with disabilities find employment using online career development tools, is starting a new Guest Blogger series. So far, the series features two guest bloggers: Justice Ender, RTC:Rural Communications Associate, and Molly Spence, a blogger and advocate.

In his post “Digital Content: Moving Beyond Sunsets and Silhouettes,” Ender shares his knowledge on creating online content and how to find and use pictures that accurately represent people with disabilities. In his post, he shares links to resources to help users find pictures that depict real people with disabilities participating in their communities. Ender works on the Healthy Community Living (HCL) project, and highlights the HCL free-to-use picture database on Flickr, where HCL photographers and people around the country share pictures for others to use.

Justice Ender speaks into a microphone in a conference room.

Justice Ender, RTC:Rural Communications Associate, speaks at the APRIL 2017 conference.

The second post in the Telecom Toolbox Guest Blogger series was written by Molly Spence, a writer and disability advocate. Spence is a member of the West Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council, and serves on the APRIL Youth Steering Committee. In “Blog Your Way to a Successful Career—Q & A with Molly Spence,” she shares how writing her blog, Molly’s Zone, helped her to gain confidence and become a more vocal advocate. In sharing her experiences with Telecom Toolbox, she also describes how using social media and her blog have helped her to network and grow both her careers as a writer an as an advocate. Continue reading

RTC:Rural heads to NOLA for annual Geographers conference

American Association of Geographers Annual MeetingRTC:Rural Research Associates Andrew Myers and Lillie Greiman are headed to New Orleans, Louisiana, next week to present their research at the 2018 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting. They will be joined by University of Montana graduate student Kourtney Johnson, who has worked closely with Greiman on RTC:Rural research. The conference is April 10-14, 2018, and features more than 6,000 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips.

Myers is one of the three directors on the Disability Specialty Group, an AAG subgroup that focuses on addressing accessibility issues. This year, the group worked to increase the accessibility of the conference, including creating a page on the conference website with accessibility information, where conference-goers can request accommodations. The page also includes information about accessible transportation in New Orleans and tips for traveling with a disability.

“Our big point is that these things help everyone, not just people with disabilities,” said Myers. Continue reading

RTC:Rural starts new Living & Working Well Facilitator Peer-to-Peer Series

Image of Peer-to-Peer Series email invitation. Text description in caption.

RTC:Rural Presents: Living & Working Well Facilitator Peer-to-Peer Series. First call topic: Managing Group Dynamics. A one-hour national conference call to bring together facilitators so we can share knowledge, experiences, and ideas! April 26, 2018. 11 a.m. MT.

Beginning on April 26, RTC:Rural is hosting a new Peer-to-Peer Series for Living and Working Well with a Disability facilitators. These one-hour conference calls are open to all facilitators who are involved in these programs, and there is no cost to participate.

“I started the series because there is so much rich knowledge and experience in this community of facilitators, but there are not very many ways for people in this community to connect and share that knowledge,” said Maggie Lawrence, RTC:Rural Training Associate, who trains Living & Working Well facilitators and provides technical assistance for the Living & Working Well programs. “I see this call series as a platform for facilitators to share experiences, stories, skills, questions, successes, and challenges; everyone is an expert, and everyone is a learner.” Continue reading

Students Exchange Knowledge in Curriculum Development Process

Healthy Community Living logoRTC:Rural has a long history of engaging and mentoring students, and after graduation many of these students continue in research. No matter what career path they follow, our students take with them knowledge of the disability research field and awareness of disability issues, perspectives that are valuable for all fields of study.

Most recently, ten University of Montana students have been involved in the Healthy Community Living (HCL) project, creating an online multimedia curriculum that will help people with disabilities gain life skills and learn how to set and reach healthy life goals. These students come from a wide range of disciplines, including the School of Media Arts, psychology, community health sciences, and law. Continue reading

RTC:Rural researchers to present at annual NARRTC conference

RTC:Rural researchers are headed to Arlington, VA later this month to present at the 40th annual National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (NARRTC) conference.

This conference provides an annual opportunity for grantees of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to come together and share their latest research findings, training, and knowledge translation methodologies. This year’s conference theme is “Shaping the Future.”

RTC:Rural researchers will share their research in four presentations on the first day of the two-day conference. Continue reading

Register now for April 2018 Working Well with a Disability facilitator training

April showers bring May flowers- and by flowers we mean Independent Living skills and consumer empowerment!A group of people, some using wheelchairs, move down the sidewalk in the rain.

Registration for the April 2018 Working Well with a Disability online facilitator training is now open. The training will take place the week of April 9th. Space is limited, so please only register if you know you can attend.

Registration closes on April 2nd, 2018.

Working Well with a Disability Facilitator Training Details

Training dates: April 9th – 13th. Training includes online self-study and discussion participation and a live webinar on April 13th.

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: April 2nd

How to register: Visit Working Well April 2018 Training Pre-Registration

Continue reading