Category Archives: News

New research brief: COVID-19 and disability in rural areas

Rural/urban differences in trust in sources and preventative practices

first page of America at a glance: COVID-19 and disability in rural areas research brief.

Public health is shaped by community-level action. This is especially important during crises such as COVID-19, where widespread adoption of public health practices is necessary to manage community spread and prevent loss. Consistent information is important for fostering trust and adherence to recommended practices.

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RTC:Rural project director to present as part of ACL webinar

COVID-19 molecule

On Wednesday, July 1, at 2 p.m. EST (noon MST) Andrew Myers, RTC:Rural Project Director, will present as part of a webinar hosted by the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

The webinar is about supporting rural communities by connecting older adults and people with disabilities to resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar will feature researchers and program leaders including:

ACL- Administration for Community Living
  • Amanda Reichard, PhD, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, ACL (Moderator)
  • Lance Robertson, Administrator, ACL (Introduction and welcome)
  • Collette Adamsen, PhD, Director, National Resource Center on Native American Aging
  • Sara Tribe Clark, Director, Eldercare Locator
  • Richard Petty, MBA, Director, IL-NET National Training and Technical Assistance Center for independent living at ILRU
  • Andrew Myers, MA, University of Montana Rural Institute

The webinar will be held on Zoom, and registration is not required.

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Do you provide personal assistance services to rural people with disabilities? We want to hear your story!

PAS workers in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana: share your experiences

A caregiver helps a person with physical disabilities eat.
From Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

RTC:Rural is partnering with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care to identify the supports needed for personal assistance services (PAS) workers (also known as personal care attendants, or PCAs) in underserved rural communities.

To help better understand PAS worker experiences, the Rural Personal Assistance Worker Project Team is recruiting PAS workers in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana to take pictures of their daily work experiences.

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Project Snapshot: Rural Community Living Development

Rural Community Living Development

The Rural Community Living Development (RCLD) project is a knowledge translation grant funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). RTC:Rural staff have partnered with the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to develop and implement a peer to peer mentor training with and for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) that will prepare CIL staff to work on community development activities in rural areas. The project includes helping communities identify, access and use NIDILRR-funded products and resources that can address the most important community issues for increased independence and participation (such as access to accessible housing or transportation) of people with disabilities in their rural communities.

The Rural Community Living Development project team explains the project and gives a quick progress update.

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Building Networks to Expand Living Well Delivery: Project Update

Living Well in the Community logo

We were excited to bring our peer-led self-management program Living Well in the Community to new audiences by facilitating partnerships between Centers for Independent Living and rural hospitals, and begun by teaming up with CILs and rural hospitals in Wyoming and Oregon for the first phase of the project.

And then COVID-19 struck, and like so many things across the country, we needed to adapt, as many hospitals and healthcare settings found themselves dealing with this virus and related difficulties. At the same time, it became dangerous for people to meet in person, especially when the disability community is most at-risk for exposure in this pandemic.

icon representing remote team. Person connected by dotted lines to another person on a screen, and to a globe.
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Upcoming webinar for current HCL providers

Healthy Community Living Skills Training Peer Support Call


Note: this webinar is open to those who are currently using the Healthy Community Living (HCL) program.

If you are not a current HCL provider and are interested learning more about HCL programs, you can find more information and get a license on the HCL website: Healthy Community Living


Healthy Community Living logo - orange circles grey people

Current HCL providers:
Join your peers from across the country on a peer support call on June 24 at 1:00-2:30 Mountain time (3:00-4:30 Eastern) to discuss implementing Healthy Community Living programs!

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New toolkit available to help make rural community events accessible for all

Event accessibility, online and off

cartoon drawing of stick figure with curly brown hair sits at desk with laptop

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.

cartoon drawing of person with prosthetic leg stands holding a pencil and checklist

 “Disability advocates 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.

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Rural Institute project seeking volunteers with SCI for online intervention study

ZEST- promoting the psychological health of women with SCI

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.

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New research brief: How do adults with travel-limiting disabilities get around?

Transportation is still a barrier

Cover/first page of research brief: America at a glance- how do working-age adults with travel-limiting disabilities get around?

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.

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Skilled Nursing Facilities in Rural Communities: Opportunities for partnering on COVID-19 response efforts

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.

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