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
RTC:Rural heads to Denver, Colorado this October for the annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference. The conference will be October 5 – 8, and the theme is “Roots of Change Grow a Mile High.”
As well as sharing information and resources at vendor tables, RTC:Rural staff will meet with national partners, share research updates, and gather input that will help shape future research projects. We have a long-standing partnership with APRIL, and are looking forward to coming together to continue to support people with disabilities so they can participate in their rural communities. Continue reading
RTC:Rural Research Associates Andrew Myers and Lillie Greiman are headed to New Orleans, Louisiana, next week to present their research at the 2018 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting. They will be joined by University of Montana graduate student Kourtney Johnson, who has worked closely with Greiman on RTC:Rural research. The conference is April 10-14, 2018, and features more than 6,000 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips.
Myers is one of the three directors on the Disability Specialty Group, an AAG subgroup that focuses on addressing accessibility issues. This year, the group worked to increase the accessibility of the conference, including creating a page on the conference website with accessibility information, where conference-goers can request accommodations. The page also includes information about accessible transportation in New Orleans and tips for traveling with a disability.
“Our big point is that these things help everyone, not just people with disabilities,” said Myers. Continue reading
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.
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.”
To learn more about the RTC/PICL and the Home Usability Program, check out:
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
Each year, RTC:Rural staff are honored to attend the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living’s (APRIL) annual conference. As long-standing partners with APRIL, we at RTC:Rural learn what matters most to people with disabilities living in rural America. We extend much gratitude to APRIL members for sharing their expertise and wisdom within Independent Living service delivery, as well as their real-life experiences of living in rural communities. The exchange of information and knowledge at this year’s APRIL conference, held October 21-24, 2016 in Reno, NV, was rich!
After landing in Reno, NV, we met with eleven of our partners from eight Centers for Independent Living across the nation for a day-long meeting to applaud our Healthy Community Living (HCL) project’s milestones and lay out the goals and objectives for year two of the five year NIDILRR development grant.
Updates on RTC:Rural Research: RTC:Rural Center Co-Director, Craig Ravesloot, and Program Directors Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers, provided an update on our research projects, and engaged attendees for questions and input. Click the links below to view their presentation slides: Continue reading