Tag Archives: accessible housing

Researchers and project partners share perspectives on disability and the environment

Kelly, Troutman, Greiman, and Myers sit in the front of a room presenting. There is a slide projected above their heads with a map of disability rates across the U.S. Greiman speaks into a microphone.

From left to right, Bonnie Kelly, Bronwyn Troutman, Lillie Greiman, and Andrew Myers presenting as part of DiverseU 2018.

Rural Institute researchers and RTC:Rural project directors Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers, along with community partners Bronwyn Troutman, Community Living Specialist, and Bonnie Kelly, Peer Advocate, from Summit Independent Living Center in Missoula co-presented a panel at the University of Montana as part of the DiverseU symposium. Their presentation was titled “Disability and the Socio-Political Environment.”

DiverseU is the University of Montana’s annual campus-wide diversity symposium. It is open to university students, staff, and community members, and features presentations, art exhibits, and guided discussions over the course of two days. DiverseU seeks to, “…explore the complexities of human experience, promote understanding, and create community through the practice of civil discourse,” according to the DiverseU website page. Continue reading

Home Usability Program works to address immediate housing needs for people with disabilities

Wheelchair user trying to maneuver within confined kitchen space.

For people with disabilities, usability issues can be both within and outside of the home.

The need for accessible housing far exceeds the availability. While there are disability advocacy groups working to make changes in housing policies at the national level, those changes don’t happen overnight. In the next few decades, the need for affordable, accessible housing is only going to increase as the American population ages. In rural areas, where people are already more likely to be unemployed, living in poverty, elderly, and have a disability, this housing need will be especially severe.

“People can’t always move into accessible, affordable housing, or at least not right away,” says Lillie Greiman, RTC:Rural Research Associate. “So we’re asking, ‘What can we do to help those people right now?’”

To address immediate housing issues for people with disabilities, RTC:Rural researchers are working with partners at the University of Kansas on the Home Usability Program. The Home Usability Program helps people with disabilities to assess usability issues with their homes, and connects them with the resources they need to make changes.

Closeup of a person's hand on a lever-style door handle

An example of an improved usability issue: replacing round door knobs with easier-to-use lever door handles. Picture from www.HealthyCommunityLiving.com.

The Home Usability Program is part of the Research and Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living (RTC/PICL), a collaboration between researchers at the University of Kanas and the University of Montana. Dr. Craig Ravesloot, RTC:Rural director, co-directs the center with Dr. Glen White at the University of Kansas. Greiman is the Project Director of the Home Usability Program.

Currently, researchers are in the first phase of the Home Usability Program, says Greiman. The program is partnering with two Centers for Independent Living, one in Montana and one in Kansas, to work with individuals to make usability improvements to their homes. Participants must be over 21, have a physical disability, and live in the community.

First, the team works with the individual to identify usability issues within their homes. Then, the researchers work with the local CILs to develop a network of local resources that can help address those issues. The focus of the program is to identify smaller-scale improvements that can be made quickly and relatively inexpensively—for example, installing new faucet handles on the sink for easier use, or grab bars in the bathtub.

Ultimately, the Home Usability Program will consist of two parts: a screening tool for people with disabilities to use to identify usability issues in their homes, which includes recommendations on how to solve some common issues; and a guide for CILs to develop their own networks of local resources to help consumers make these usability changes.

“The Home Usability Program is about giving you control over your home environment, making it easier and safer to use your home,” said Greiman. “If people have usable homes, they can live independently and participate in their communities.”

A drawing of two cartoon houses.

The Home Usability Program works with Centers for Independent Living to help people with disabilities make improvements to their homes.

To learn more about the RTC/PICL and the Home Usability Program, check out:

Research & Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living

Home Usability for People with Disabilities

Success Story: Home Usability for People with Disabilities

Does your bathroom routine drain your battery? How effort and exercise shape community participation

A bathroom with a shower chair and a grab bar in the shower.

Shower chairs and grab bars are some of the adaptive bathroom equipment used in this study. Photo from Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

What do showering, brushing your teeth, and “visiting the porcelain throne” have to do with energy levels and community participation? More than you might think, especially for people with mobility impairments.

Effort Capacity and Choice, a current research project at RTC:Rural led by Andrew Myers, is working to better understand how what happens in the bathroom impacts what happens outside of the bathroom. The project is a collaboration between the RTC:Rural, the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, and the New Directions program within the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana.

Previous RTC:Rural research has shown that many people who use mobility equipment live in homes that do not meet their needs, specifically in regards to the accessibility of their bathrooms and the entrances to their homes. 56% live in homes with inaccessible bathrooms, and 57% live in homes with a stepped entrance.

This is especially troubling as the need for affordable, accessible housing is only going to increase in the next few decades with an aging American population. In rural areas, where people are already more likely to be unemployed, living in poverty, elderly, and have a disability, this housing need will be especially severe.

RTC:Rural analysis of the American Time Use Survey has also shown that people with mobility impairments bathe less often, and when they do bathe they spend more time doing so. The Effort Capacity and Choice project builds on this information by investigating whether the amount of effort a person thinks they must exert affects their choices to be active at home and in their community. Continue reading

National Housing Workshop: Housing a priority issue for people with disabilities and older adults

RTC:Rural collaborator Bryce Ward, Ph.D, presenting at the NAS 2016 housing conference

RTC:Rural collaborator Bryce Ward, Ph.D., presenting at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine December 12, 2016 housing workshop.

RTC staff brought back some important takeaways from the recent national accessible housing workshop in Washington, DC.

RTC:Rural Director Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D. and project collaborator Bryce Ward, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, recently returned from participating in this event that continued the dialog about the importance of housing for the health and quality of life of people who are aging and people with disabilities.

On December 12th, 2016 Drs. Ravesloot and Ward attended the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) workshop, “Affordable and Accessible Housing for Vulnerable Older Adults and People with Disabilities Living in the Community: A Workshop.”  Dr. Ward presented on a panel entitled “Design Features of Accessible Housing for Older Adults and People with Disabilities” while Dr. Ravesloot was on the planning committee for the event and moderated one of the panels.

RTC:Rural Director Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., shared the following important takeaways upon his return:

1. Housing is a platform for the health of people with disabilities and older adults.

Continue reading

RTC:Rural participating in national accessible housing workshop

On December 12, 2016, RTC:Rural Director Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D. and project collaborator Bryce Ward, Ph.D. Associate Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana, will participate in a workshop on accessible housing hosted by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). The day-long workshop is entitled “Housing for Vulnerable Older Adults and People with Disabilities.”

Housing influences community participation, independent living, and overall health and wellbeing, especially for vulnerable populations. In the United States, the demand for accessible and affordable housing for people with disabilities and older adults greatly exceeds the supply. This imbalance will continue to grow over the coming years as the population shifts to include a greater number of older adults and people living with disabilities.

Dr. Ravesloot was approached by the NAS to be on the planning committee to represent the perspective of research in rural communities. “I am pleased that the organizers want to highlight rural, and especially that accessibility, not just affordability, is a main focus,” he said. In addition to providing planning assistance and nominating Dr. Ward to present, Dr. Ravesloot is also moderating one of the panels. Continue reading