Tag Archives: advocacy

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

Free rural transportation toolkit now available from APRIL and RTC:Rural

cover of the document "toolkit for operating a rural transportation voucher program"The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) and the RTC:Rural are excited to announce that an updated version of the Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program is now available to download for FREE. The Toolkit, used to help solve problems in areas that lack transportation options, is available in PDF and text-only versions. Individualized training and technical assistance is available from APRIL for a fee. Contact Billy Altom, Executive director of APRIL, at bwaltom@sbcglobal.net for more information.

Click here to download the toolkit.

What is the Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program?

The Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program provides a model that describes how to bring together community members and resources to develop and operate a transportation system for people with disabilities in rural areas.

In this model, eligible riders receive a voucher checkbook with an allocation of miles from a sponsoring agency. The agency negotiates with public and private transportation providers to accept the voucher checks as payment for rides, and can help riders organize potential volunteer drivers. Community members may volunteer to become drivers, and will be reimbursed up to the federal maximum rate for mileage reimbursement. In addition, other agencies that provide transportation, such as a council on aging or a developmental disability provider, can also be part of the voucher system. As long as there is room, riders from different sponsoring agencies can ride in the same vehicles. Continue reading

Finding and Using Data for Advocacy guide now available

Cover of Finding and Using Data for Advocacy How-To GuideWe are pleased to share our newly revised Finding and Using Data for Advocacy How-To Guide. Part of RTC:Rural’s new Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit, Finding and Using Data for Advocacy is a resource that can be used to supplement an advocacy skill building workshop, or as a stand-alone resource for anyone who would like to use data to support their advocacy goals.

Finding and Using Data for Advocacy explains what data is and how it is used to support advocacy, and provides links to public data sets related to disability, including RTC:Rural’s Disability Counts Data Finder, the Community & Work Disparities (ADA-PARC) website, and Disability Statistics, among others. The guide also includes prompts to guide users in determining what type of data would be most helpful for their advocacy and how to incorporate that data into their personal testimony.

Other How-To Guides featured in the Toolkit include Writing Effective Letters to Decision Makers and Creating Your Personal Testimony to Influence Policy Change, both of which are available for download on the Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit website.

The How-To Guides were developed and updated from previous products developed by the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, and are influenced by RTC:Rural’s successful Living Well with a Disability program.

Using Improv to Teach Advocacy: RTC:Rural Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit now available

Advocacy Toolkit Facilitator Guide coverRTC:Rural is excited to release the Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit, a new set of resources for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and others to facilitate workshops to develop the advocacy skills of emerging Independent Living leaders and youth with disabilities.

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.

The Toolkit is available free of charge on the RTC:Rural website.

“We are so excited that we can help get this toolkit in the hands of CILs and others,” said Mary Olson, Director of Training and Technical Assistance for APRIL. “The Independent Living network has been craving tools that can be used with young adults with disabilities. Every time I talk with a CIL, they ask for exactly what this toolkit is offering. With more and more mandates for Independent Living without more funding, I see this tool being used in almost every CIL in the country as a much needed resource.” Continue reading

How RTC:Rural works to address the “Civic Desert” for rural youth

Here at RTC:Rural, we know from working with our stakeholders that there are many unique aspects of living in a rural environment – both challenges and opportunities. Our Center provides technical assistance to people with disabilities and their service providers to address these challenges.

A recent article in The Conversation’s series on rural America, by researchers at Tufts University, recently coined a new term: the “Civic Desert.” They use Civic Desert to refer to “places characterized by a dearth of opportunities for civic and political learning and engagement, and without institutions that typically provide opportunities like youth programming, culture and arts organizations and religious congregations.” Click here to read their analysis of the effects of such a lack of access to civic opportunities on youth voting, titled “Study: 60 percent of rural millennials lack access to a political life.”

The challenge of access to civic opportunity for rural youth with disabilities is an issue that crosses boundaries of political parties and values. RTC:Rural and our partners  are currently working to address this issue in several ways.

Youth put their arms around each other as part of a group activity

Youth activity at APRIL 2016 conference

APRIL Youth Advocacy Committee – We provide technical assistance to the new Youth Advocacy Committee of the Associate of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL). This committee, an outgrowth of the vibrant youth activities at the annual APRIL conference, brings together rural youth from across the country to prioritize and address issues associated with living with a disability in rural America. The committee has regular meetings – for more information contact APRIL Youth Programs Coordinator Sierra Royster. Continue reading