Young adulthood can be a difficult time for people with disabilities, as school-related supports are replaced by less-robust transitioning services. Young adults with disabilities are at higher risk of being disconnected from important activities such as work, school, and community life. Social and economic inequality grows significantly during this period. In rural places, participation in social and community events might help young adults stay connected and active. In places like the Mountain West, rurality and disability combine to create even higher risk of being disconnected and isolated. Despite their importance as the context of participation, there is a lack of information about what role social and community events plays in the experiences of rural young people with disabilities.
Despite the dramatic drop in participation following the end of high school, we argue that young adulthood is a period seeped with opportunity for increasing participation and engagement as it is increasingly seen as a period of exploration and self-development. However, much of the research on young people in rural America has emphasized patterns of out-migration and high rates of disconnection from employment and education among those who stay, rather than how they engage and interact with other community members. This mixed methods study will provide insight into how young adults are participating, where they are getting their information, and how they are making decisions about engaging in social and community activities.
Ultimately, evidence garnered from this project will serve as a foundation for establishing face-to-face and online ways to increase productive participation that leads to engagement in sustained meaningful activities and the accumulation of social capital for young adults with disabilities. While professionals working in Centers for Independent Living (CILs) across the nation are taxed with assisting young adults in transitioning into meaningful employment, education, and social participation, anecdotally, some report feeling less equipped to assist in the latter. This project will create the systematic, young adult-centered information that professionals need to assist young adults in social and community participation and will also provide rural communities with rural-specific ways of making participation available, accessible, and inviting.
- Project dates: 2013-2018
- Funded by: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant No. H133B130028
- Principal staff: Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., Tom Seekins, Ph.D., Tracy Boehm, M.P.H., Tannis Hargrove, M.S., Lillie Greiman, M.A., Rayna Sage, Ph.D.
- Related projects:
Links to Scholarly Articles and Abstracts:
Exploring the Feasibility of Using “Google Street View” to Assess the Accessibility of Community Environments: Developing Definitions and Observational Protocol for Image Recognition and Classification Research in Social Science and Disability, 2014.