Category Archives: News

RTC:Rural shares Self-Employment Guide with Tribal VR

logo for Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitaiton, Inc. A bald eagle with the international symbol for disability in front of a background patterend with Native American designs. Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director of Employment Research, and Lauren Smith, Knowledge Translation Associate, recently presented at the Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR) 2018 Mid-Year conference held in Prior Lake, Minnesota. In their presentation, “Expanding Counselor and Consumer Capacity in Self-Employment,” Ipsen and Smith highlighted RTC:Rural’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Self-Employment Guide, developed as part of the Rural Self-Employment Opportunities research project. The presentation showcased the online guide, shared interactive materials, and explored strategies for using the website in the counseling process.

The VR Self-Employment Guide is a multi-media website created to help people with disabilities and vocational rehabilitation counselors better understand the self-employment process. Consumers and counselors can work from the same material to decide if self-employment is a good option, and if so, to develop a feasible business plan. The website is self-directed, and can be used by individuals on their own or with the guidance of a VR counselor or business development mentor. Continue reading

From Recovery to Rehabilitation to Community Living: Resources for People with Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury and Burn Injury

This week, RTC:Rural is featuring a guest blog by our colleague Cynthia Overton, Principal Research Analysist and Co-Project Director of the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center at the American Institutes for Research.

MSKTC Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center. SCI,TBI, Burn. The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) works to make sure the latest and best research findings are being used in healthcare decision-making. In order to help improve the health and quality of life of people with spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and burn injuries, MSKTC creates resources and products that share relevant research findings with the people who need this information.

The resources and information created and shared by MSKTC are important resources that help support people with disabilities so they can engage in their rural communities. In promoting this shared goal, RTC:Rural helps to share these resources with people in rural communities who can benefit from this information.

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Living and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators: Register today for Peer-to-Peer Call #2!

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Register today for the next Living & Working Well with a Disability Facilitator Peer-to-Peer Series Call! Registration link is below.

Mark your calendars— the second Peer-to-Peer Series conference call for Living and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators is scheduled for June 28, 2018, at 11 a.m. MT. The call topic is implementation, recruitment, and sustainability. These calls are free and open to any Living and Working Well facilitators, though registration is preferred. Continue reading

“Inclusion is important, no matter what.” Graduate Seminar on Rural Disability and Health

Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a conference in May 2017.

Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a rural-focused workshop in May 2017.

In the Spring 2018 semester, RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, who is also an adjunct instructor in the Sociology department at the University of Montana (UM), taught a graduate-level seminar called “Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health.”

The main course objectives were for students to build important writing skills they can take into their academic and professional lives, primarily through learning how to conduct rapid literature reviews. This involves identifying key pieces of literature related to a specific topic, and then quickly reviewing and organizing the literature for summary. Continue reading

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