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
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
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 Independent Living
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
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
RTC: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.
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
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
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:
- Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit
- Maps of Disability and Employment, from our Disability across America map series.
- Disability Counts Data Finder
- RTC:Rural employment research, including Telecom Toolbox and the Vocational Rehabilitation Self-Employment Guide (which is still in development)
- Living Well and Working Well with a Disability
- Healthy Community Living
- the new Rural Disability Resource Library website
All of these resources can be found on the Rural Disability Resource Library website.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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
We 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.