Tag Archives: CILs. Center for Independent Living

Rural Institute Researchers awarded 5 year Rural Community Living Development Grant

The University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) is pleased to announce a staff team has been awarded a five-year, $981,803 Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project grant by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research within the Administration for Community Living.

The newly funded project, Rural Community Living Development (RCLD), is led by Rural Sociologist and Project Director Dr. Rayna Sage, and Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Clinical Psychologist and Research Director for the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural).

A group of people in a community park enjoying a picnic. Two of the people are using powerchairs.

The purpose of the Rural Community Living Development project is to provide space and facilitate conversations among community members to help them connect to resources and information they might not otherwise have access to.

Using a combination of independent living philosophy, peer mentoring and community development approaches, research staff will work with Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to take collective action that leads to positive change for and with people with disabilities living in rural areas.

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RTC:Rural travels to Grand Rapids for 25th annual APRIL conference

25th Annual APRIL National Conference on Rural Independent Living. 1995-2019. The Power of Rural.

RTC:Rural heads to Grand Rapids, Michigan this week for the 25th annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference. The conference will be October 25 – 28, and the theme is “The Power of Rural.” 

Harnessing the theme of this year’s conference, Project Directors Dr. Rayna Sage and Lillie Greiman, Director of Knowledge Translation Tracy Boehm Barrett, and Research Advisor Dr. Craig Ravesloot will give a presentation titled, “Using Rural IL Power to Address the Needs of People with Disabilities Living in Poverty.” In their presentation, they will discuss how poverty affects Independent Living (IL), rural resources that Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can leverage to help address poverty, and how community development strategies can address poverty among people with disabilities living in their community. Dr. Sage will also briefly describe a number of new opportunities for CILs to get involved in RTC:Rural’s research and rural community development projects to address local issues that affect IL services.

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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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Healthy Community Living featured in KTDRR Casebook

Screenshot of the Cocreating with stakeholders through Participatory curriculum development KT Casebook

Click on the image to visit the casebook entry on KTDRR’s website.

Research done in isolation can often miss critical connections and applications, especially in the adoption phase, when much can be ‘lost in translation’ between the researchers and the end users. Knowledge translation (KT), or the process of facilitating that transfer of information, helps make sure that the research being done and the resulting solutions and products are easily understood, relevant, and useful.

One way to make sure that a project is relevant is to follow the integrated knowledge translation approach, which is to include stakeholders throughout the entire project, from planning to sharing the final results. A specific method within this approach is participatory curriculum development (PCD). The Healthy Community Living project is a successful example of PCD in action. Continue reading

RTC:Rural’s Health My Way app in pilot phase

Screenshot of Health My Way app. A person's hand is shown tapping the screen.

The Health My Way app was designed to be used on a tablet. The app guides users through health promotion content.

For people with disabilities in rural communities, it can be hard to access health care. Lack of services, distance, or lack of transportation can be substantial barriers to receiving adequate health care and preventative health care. Self-management health practices could help reduce the need for acute-care medical services for those in rural areas.

To help address this, researchers at RTC:Rural have worked to develop a health promotion app called Health My Way. The app, which is meant to be used on a tablet, guides users through health promotion content derived from the Healthy Community Living program. The Health My Way app allows users to explore up to 22 content areas including topics such as Disability Identity, Goal Setting, Healthy Relationships, and Eating Well. Users are also matched with a health coach who meets with them either in person or via telephone to review the content of the program, as well as provide accountability and support. Continue reading

Healthy Community Living Project Shares Stakeholder Engagement Practices for Online Conference

Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability & Rehabilitation Research at American Institutes for ResearchThe Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR) hosted its annual online conference on November 5, 7, and 9, 2018, titled “Engaging Ways to Engage Stakeholders.”  Spanning across the three days, the conference addressed strategies for how to plan, carry out, and measure the effectiveness of different knowledge translation (KT) approaches.

On day two of the conference, RTC:Rural’s Director of Knowledge Translation Tracy Boehm Barrett and RTC:Rural Project Director Tannis Hargrove presented on their work with the Healthy Community Living (HCL) project. Their presentation was titled “Co-creating With Stakeholders: A Case of Engaging Through Concept and Design for Program Development.” The presentation will be archived and made available on KTDRR’s website in early 2019. Continue reading

Facilitators share rural barriers to participation in Living & Working Well programs in Peer-to-Peer Series call

A circle of clip art people surrounds the Living and Working Well with a Disability logo, Peer-to-Peer Series written underneath.Residents in rural areas can face many challenges and barriers to accessing services and programs, such as those offered by Centers for Independent Living (CILs). For many Centers that are located in or that serve rural communities, these barriers can mean low participation, which in turn can make it difficult to continue offering certain programs beyond core services. On the most recent Living and Working Well Facilitator Peer-to-Peer call, program facilitators discussed barriers to participation in their workshops such as fewer (or no) transportation options, competition for time, insufficient infrastructure, lack of supporting resources, and fewer outreach and recruitment opportunities. Continue reading

Rural Institute shares knowledge on disability as part of UM public health graduate seminar

University of Montana School of public & Community health sciences logo

Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) staff, students, and community partners will be participating in a series of presentations at the University of Montana as part of the School of Public & Community Health Sciences seminar program for students, staff and faculty. The 16 week graduate seminar is part of UM’s Public Health doctoral program aimed to educate and equip students with the skills and expertise to improve public health at the community level and around the world. 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

Healthy Community Living now in pilot phase

Healthy Community Living logoHealthy 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.”

Development Team

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.

The HCL Development Team and RTC:Rural staff.

The HCL Development Team and RTC:Rural staff at a HCL training in Missoula, Montana.

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