Tag Archives: advocacy

Improv in action: Alabama CIL uses RTC:Rural Advocacy Toolkit to teach youth

Disability rights & resources. The power of hope & freedom.

Disability Rights & Resources, a Center for Independent Living in Birmingham, Alabama, is using RTC:Rural’s Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit to introduce and teach advocacy skills to youth with disabilities by conducting workshops across Alabama. With assistance from a grant from the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights & Resources was able to hire a Community Empowerment Specialist to organize the advocacy workshops.

“We learned about the toolkit from APRIL [the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living],” said Elizabeth Patton, Program Coordinator at Disability Rights & Resources. “Using improvisational skills seems like a fun and engaging way to build advocacy, especially in youth,” she said. “Looking over this toolkit, it was really nice to have everything we needed already summed up into one Facilitator Guide with accompanying Power Point presentations.”

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More to discover in the Rural Disability Resource Library

Looking for information on accessible transportation or housing? Or for strategies to help you talk about your disability in a job interview? Need some tips on how to find a personal care assistant, or on how to do your taxes?

For all those and more, check out the Rural Disability Resource Library. It contains fact sheets, how-to guides, information for conducting workshops, web resources, and much more!

Watch our video to learn more:

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APRIL members share input in RTC:Rural survey

First page of the APRIL Members Input Survey Summarized Results. Links in post to PDF and text-only versions.

Cover of the APRIL Members Input Survey Summarized Results. To view or download the full results, follow the links in the post.

At this year’s APRIL conference (See: Another great APRIL conference in the books!), RTC:Rural asked APRIL members to share their thoughts and ideas about what work is most important for rural Independent Living and research. We want to make sure our research leads to relevant and useful solutions for rural people with disabilities, and to do so we make sure to gather input from stakeholders as we plan, carry out, and share the results of our work.   Continue reading

“This is a great forum for us to all talk and learn:” Second 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 second Peer-to-Peer Series call for Living Well and Working Well with a Disability Facilitators was held on June 28th, 2018. Twenty-two participants joined the conference call and shared their experiences, challenges, and successes as facilitators. The topic of the second call was program implementation, recruitment, and sustainability.

Facilitation skill-building is not the only thing to consider when planning a Living or Working Well workshop in your community. The programs require attention to the needs and capacity of your organization, as well as the needs and interests of participants. 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

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

Stakeholder Engagement Brings Value and Insight to Researchers at APRIL 2017

two people pointing at a poster and a map

RTC:Rural researcher Lillie Greiman showing our Network Analysis poster

RTC:Rural staff recently traveled to Spokane, Washington, for the 23rd annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference.

“Attending APRIL gives us a chance to connect with the real people, both service providers and consumers, who work on the ground every day,” said RTC:Rural Research Associate Lillie Greiman. Those connections allow RTC:Rural staff to share, gather feedback and solicit input on our research and resources.  Added Research Associate Andrew Myers, “The APRIL conference gives us the opportunity to hear about the lived experiences of people with disabilities in rural communities all across the county, and these stories can help inform our research and improve the work we do.”

Tools for Today and Tomorrow – Presentation

workshop participants listening to a panel of speakers

RTC:Rural research Tannis Hargrove presenting about the Healthy Community Living program

Researchers shared information about new and current RTC:Rural projects and products in a packed workshop called Asking Question Leads to Solutions: Tools for Today and Tomorrow, which highlighted some of the many RTC:Rural products and tools that have been developed as a result of our research. Presenters provided information about:

All of these resources can be found on the Rural Disability Resource Library website.

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Exchanging Knowledge and Expertise: RTC:Rural to engage with stakeholders at APRIL conference

Logo for the 23rd APRIL conference. Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.

Spokane, here we come!

RTC:Rural is busy prepping for the 23rd annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference, which will be held October 20-23rd 2017, in Spokane, Washington. This year’s theme is “Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.”

As well as having two vendor tables inviting engagement with conference attendees, RTC:Rural staff will give two presentations. The first, “Social Media: Reaching Farther, Working Better” will be about using social media in telecommunication and to promote independent living skills, and the second, titled “Asking Questions Leads to Solutions: Tools for Today and Tomorrow” will be a workshop featuring RTC:Rural research that has led to tools and products.

Social Media: Reaching Farther, Working Better

In this presentation, RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, Communications Associate Justice Ender, and undergraduate student researcher Megan Miller will share tips and tricks on how Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can utilize social media to enhance workflow, bridge main and branch offices, and reach the rural communities they serve. Ender and Miller will also share research and practical tips on how to use Facebook to share information and encourage discussion. Dr Sage will share insights from her one-on-one interviews with young adults in rural communities, and discuss how they are—or are not—using social media to connect around local events.

Asking Questions Leads to Solutions: Tools for Today and Tomorrow

This workshop will highlight some of the many RTC:Rural products and tools that have been developed as a result of our research. Presenters include Director of Knowledge Translation Tracy Boehm Barrett, Director of Employment Research Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Project Director Lillie Greiman, Training Associate Maggie Lawrence, Communications Associate Kerry Morse, and Knowledge Translation Associate Lauren Smith. Continue reading