April 10, 2018

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.

Andrew Myers talking and gesturing

Andrew Myers at the APRIL 2017 conference in Spokane, Washington.

The Disability Specialty Group also compiled a list of disability-related sessions at the conference. Included on this list are the RTC:Rural research presentations.

Myers is a panelist on the “ ‘All-Inclusive’—Mainstreaming for AAG Annual Meetings and Beyond” panel, which will be an open discussion of accessibility issues at AAG meetings and what can be done to make not only future meetings, but AAG as a scientific body, more inclusive and accessible for all. In addition to this panel, Myers is giving a presentation titled “Community Starts at Home: Toward Equitable Housing for People with Disabilities.” In this presentation, he will discuss how home design and housing policies deny access to participating in community life, and the implications this has for rural communities.

Greiman will present “Spatial Disparity in Employment for Americans with Disabilities: Implications for Inclusive Economic Development” as part of a session discussing challenges and opportunities for inclusive growth and economies in the U.S. and UK. She will share RTC:Rural research on employment rates in the U.S., highlighting the differences in employment rates for people with and without disabilities, and how this disparity is not spatially consistent across the U.S. These findings prompt some key questions: What local/regional characteristics contribute to this disparity? How do economic, policy or service system differences contribute to employment outcomes for people with disabilities? How can these differences inform our understanding of inclusive economic development and could employment for people with disabilities serve as an indicator of inclusive growth?

As part of the Geographies of Disability session, Johnson will present “Access to Independent Living Services for People with Disabilities across the United States: An Exploratory Network Analysis.” In order to measure geographic access to Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Johnson conducted a network analysis based on major roads, using CIL locations as points of origin. Then, she analyzed the number of households with people with disabilities that were within those distance bands. This research shows how far individuals are required to travel to access the independent living services provided by CILs.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer our graduate students opportunities to not only work on disability research projects, but also gain the valuable experience that comes with presenting at a large national conference,” said Greiman. She and Johnson worked together on the exploratory network analysis research.

Lillie Greiman speaking to someone at a conference.

Lillie Greiman speaking to a fellow conference attendee in 2015.

RTC:Rural is always glad to be contributing to the success of AAG, and is thankful for the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences with others in the field of geography. “Disability is not distributed evenly, which makes it inherently spatial. Attending AAG gives us a chance to connect with some of the leading spatial thinkers from around the world, which gives us valuable input and fresh perspectives on our work,” said Myers.

For more information about the American Association of Geographers, visit their website: http://www.aag.org/