Tag Archives: community living

University of Montana and University of Kansas disability researchers contribute to special journal issue

This blog post is adapted from an article written by Allison Crist, University of Kansas

people talking at a farmer's market, including a person using a wheelchairAll people deserve the chance to thrive in a community — but for people with disabilities, there are often obstacles to participating.

A new special issue of the Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community explores various aspects of this topic. Dr. Craig Ravesloot at the University of Montana Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural) and two researchers at the University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living (RTC/IL) contributed to the thematic issue, “People with Disabilities and Community Participation.”

According to Glen White, one of the issue’s two guest editors and RTC/IL director, many people with disabilities remain isolated in their communities, despite advances in independent living (which focuses on supports that enable people to live in the community) and deinstitutionalization (which moves people from nursing homes to living in the community).

White said the five studies included in this issue focus on improving the lives of people with existing disabilities and those who are aging into disability. “As researchers in the disability field continue to investigate interventions that reduce barriers and create more opportunities to fully participate, they will positively affect many of the more than 57 million Americans with disabilities,” White said.

Jean Ann Summers, the other guest editor and RTC/IL research director, said the special issue examines community participation from multiple angles.

“We present research that focuses on the characteristics of individuals, like secondary health conditions, that create problems with how people live in a community,” Summers said. “Other articles examine external factors that affect how people with disabilities are able to participate in their communities.”

For example, one study about accessible parking illustrates the way environmental changes can improve the ability of people with disabilities to get out and about. “A community needs to be welcoming and accessible,” Summers said. “This, combined with supportive programs, helps empower people. You need both.” Continue reading

A Tribute to Tom Seekins

This tribute to RTC:Rural Co-Director Dr. Tom Seekins was originally published in the December 2016 issue of the Montana Psychologist, the newsletter of the Montana Psychological Association.  It is reproduced here with their kind permission. 


Dr. Tom Seekins(1)The following is a tribute to Dr. Tom Seekins, who is retiring from the University of Montana at the end of the academic year. Dr. Seekins, a Professor of Psychology, has served as the Director of the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana since 1993. His research involves rural policy, issues surrounding rural health and disability, and disability within Native American tribes and reservations, among other topics. He is a past recipient of the Earl Walden Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Advocacy in 2001, the Allan Myers award from the Disability Forum of the American Public Health Association in 2006, and the Americans with Disability Act Award from the University of Montana in 2014.

Like so many of the fine faculty in the Montana University System, Tom’s entire corpus of professional work is impossible to capture within the scope of this newsletter. Following, Dr. Seekins speaks of his early experiences working with people with disabilities in Montana and how these early experiences dictated Dr. Seekins’ educational and career path, which subsequently affected the quality and even course of residential treatment for individuals with disabilities in Montana and beyond. It is followed by reflections from two colleagues who have worked with Tom the longest at the University of Montana: Dr. Meg Traci and Dr. Craig Ravesloot.

—Greg R. Machek, Ph.D. | Academic/Scientific Coordinator, Montana Psychological Association


Tom Seekins, Ph.D.Tom Seekins, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology, Director of the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana

As I recall, I gave my first professional presentation at the Montana Psychological Association meeting held in Billings about 1975. I had graduated from the University of Montana (UM) with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1973. I had applied to graduate school but (fortunately) was not accepted. Subsequent events proved that to be one of my best setbacks.

Untethered from school and with no direction, I found myself looking for a job. The Sunday Missoulian provided the solution. I applied for a job as a Behavior Modification Therapist at the State institution for the “mentally retarded” in Boulder, Montana. The advertisement said that they were looking for people with a degree in psychology or a related field. I hadn’t been exposed to behavior modification as an undergraduate but still it seemed like there might be a fit. Continue reading

Healthy Community Living– Real People. Real Places.

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We’re excited to share Healthy Community Living (HCL), one of RTC:Rural‘s newest projects! HCL is currently developing some fun classes, and has released a call for photos that we hope you will participate in.

Everyone should have the opportunity to live well and participate fully in their communities. HCL is committed to helping people with disabilities achieve these goals.

HCL mascot, a rainbow-colored cartoon personIn partnership with the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) and eight Centers for Independent Living (CILs) across the country, HCL is working to develop two classes that will help people with disabilities set and reach personal goals, live healthy lives, and learn skills that support active community living. These two classes, Community Living Skills and Living Well in the Community will encourage people to explore skills for community living both online and in person with peers and allies.

We hope you can help us with one part of this project.  As HCL is pulling together pictures and videos for the classes, we are finding that there is a lack of images that accurately represent people with disabilities in their everyday lives. Help tell the story of healthy community living by sharing photographs of people with and without disabilities at home and in their communities. Join the HCL group’s Flickr page to see the photos from others and upload your own.

Check out the HCL video below for more information! Continue reading

New Research and Training Center to promote interventions for community living

A drawing of two cartoon houses. In collaboration with the University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living, the RTC: Rural has been awarded a five-year contract to start the new Research and Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living (RRTC/PICL).

The new RTC will focus on two interventions, called “Home Base” and “Out and About.” The goal of both interventions is to increase the community participation of people with disabilities.

“We are working to level the playing field so people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to get into the community to pursue their goals,” said project Co-Director Craig Ravesloot.

Continue reading

RTC:Rural thankful for stakeholder engagement at annual APRIL Conference

four APRIL conference participants talk, with RTC Rural table in background

APRIL 2016 Conference, Reno, NV

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!

APRIL logoAfter 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

New project will study “Effort Capacity and Choice”

A woman in a wheelchair with a shopping basket in her lap reaches up for a box on a shelf.The RTC: Rural at the University of Montana’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) is pleased to announce a new collaborative project with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) and the New Directions Wellness Center at the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana. Our project, funded by a three-year, $600,000 grant from NIDILRR, will focus on understanding how personal effort influences community participation.

Previous research by the RIIC has shown that for those with mobility impairments, bathing required the largest expenditure of daily energy. Each person has a finite amount of energy to expend in a single day, and if a disproportionately large amount of that energy is required for any one activity, such as bathing, less energy remains for other activities, such as grocery shopping or socializing with friends. “The things we do are shaped by time and money, but also by the amount of energy we have,” says Andrew Myers, RTC: Rural Project Director. Continue reading