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
We recently came back from the annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference. This year’s conference was Oct. 5-8 in Denver, where RTC:Rural staff had an in-person meeting with Healthy Community Living (HCL) partners, presented research, and shared information at our vendor table.
All staff shared that they came home with new connections, valuable feedback, and boosted motivation. Continue reading
Curious about what goes into creating a program like Healthy Community Living? What actually happens when you get people from across the country working together to create workshops that will help people with disabilities set and reach personal goals, live healthy lives, and learn skills that support living independently?
Just ask the Healthy Community Living (HCL) team!
The HCL program recently released three videos that give a glimpse of the thousands of hours of dedicated work that have gone into it so far. The videos feature RTC:Rural staff, Mary Olson-Willard from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, University of Montana students, and staff from the University of Montana’s School of Extended and Lifelong Learning. Check them out below! Continue reading
What’s at the top of RTC:Rural’s holiday wish list? Accessible transportation for people with disabilities in rural communities!
Looking for some new ideas and resources to help with transportation in your area? Then check out the revised Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program.
Transportation, especially in rural areas, continues to be one of the main issues that people with disabilities deal with on a daily basis. To help address this barrier to community participation, RTC:Rural and the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) developed the Rural Transportation Voucher Program. This Toolkit was recently updated and can now be downloaded for free from the APRIL and RTC websites.
Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program. Updated 2017. Learn how to bring together community members and resources to create a transportation system for people with disabilities in rural areas.
Why try a voucher program?
- Relatively low-cost
- Promotes cost-sharing among service agencies, riders, and transit providers
- Riders can get rides when and where they want
- Gives riders more choices in where they live and work
- Emphasis on rider needs, not agency considerations
Download the toolkit here:
For individual training and technical assistance, contact APRIL Executive Director Billy Altom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Toolkit, individualized training in the voucher program model, and technical assistance, please contact APRIL Executive Director Billy Altom at email@example.com.
Healthy Community Living (HCL), RTC:Rural’s multi-media health promotion program to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities, is excited to be moving into the piloting phase of curriculum development.
RTC:Rural researchers work closely with experienced CIL staff, peer experts in independent living philosophy, and staff from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to develop, test, and refine the HCL curriculums. To learn more about the role of the Development Team and the Participatory Curriculum Development process we used to create the HCL curricula, check out “Consumer interviews add to Participatory Curriculum Development project.”
We want to acknowledge the tremendous work and collaboration of our Development Team:
- Pamala Mondragon and Jamie Hardt from Independence, Inc. in Minot, North Dakota
- Rich Skerbitz and Liz Amys from North Country Independent Living in Superior, Wisconsin
- Dustin Gibson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Brittany Hepler from the Dale McIntosh Center in Anaheim, California
- Kimberly Heymann from Alliance of People with disAbilities in Seattle, Washington
- Ken Mitchell, Kim Gibson, and William Daniels from disAbility Link in Tucker, Georgia
- Dori Tempio from Able South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina
- Sharon Washington and Christine Cook from Blue Water Center for Independent Living in Port Huron, Michigan
Thank you Development Team, it’s been wonderful to work with you all and we so appreciate all of your time and energy devoted to HCL.
RTC:Rural co-director Dr. Tom Seekins was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Public Health Association (APHA). The award “is presented to a person who, over the course of his or her career, has made a major contribution to the improvement of health and quality of life for people with disabilities through research, teaching, advocacy, or practice.”
To see a captioned video of Dr. Seekins’ acceptance speech, click on the embedded video below.
Dr. Seekins was also honored at the 2017 Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference in Spokane for his support, involvement, and contributions to the Rural Independent Living and Disability Rights Movement.
Honoring Tom Seekins
The following is reprinted from the 23rd APRIL conference program with permission.
“Dr. Tom Seekins was one of the very first people I met when I began my work with APRIL. I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He, along with Dr. Devva Kasnitz and Linda Gonzales wrote our Rural Transportation Demonstration grant through the Department of Education which allowed APRIL to finally hire staff, i.e. me!! Tom is such a genuine and gentle soul. His soft-spoken manner and kind face represent home to many of us. He is not only a steadfast supporter of APRIL but a trusted and respected voice and scholar in the Rural Independent Living field and for People with Disabilities as a whole. His dedicated life’s work has helped us all understand the distribution of people with disabilities throughout our country and our communities and also highlights the continuing struggles that people with disabilities in Rural America deal with in trying to access services. His contributions are invaluable.
Tom Seekins is the kind of person you would want around in a crisis. He has a calming effect and a grounding energy that is so valuable and rare. It has been my sincere honor to have worked with him for 17 years. I am a better, more thoughtful person because of it.”
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
RTC: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