Tag Archives: community living

Healthy Community Living Program Releases Video Series Showcasing Development

Healthy Community Living logoCurious 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

Revised Transportation Voucher Toolkit available for FREE

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.

Flyer for the Toolkit for Operating a Rural Transportation Voucher Program. Full text description found below image.

Email Lauren Smith (lauren.smith@mso.umt.edu) for a high-resolution PDF file of the flyer.

Text description:

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 bwaltom@sbcglobal.net.

 

For more information about the Toolkit, individualized training in the voucher program model, and technical assistance, please contact APRIL Executive Director Billy Altom at bwaltom@sbcglobal.net.

 

 

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

Free rural transportation toolkit now available from APRIL and RTC:Rural

cover of the document "toolkit for operating a rural transportation voucher program"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 bwaltom@sbcglobal.net for more information.

Click here to download the toolkit.

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

Figuring out how young adults with disabilities participate in rural community events

RTC:Rural’s research on accessible community events has a new focus. Dr. Rayna Sage, RTC:Rural Research Associate, is leading our Participation in Rural Events among Young Adults with Disabilities research project. The study aims to understand how young adults with disabilities in rural communities participate in community events, and how their community participation can enrich their lives and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways.

Rayna Sage at a rodeo with mountains in the background

RTC:Rural Research Associate Rayna Sage, Ph.D., at the Pioneer Days Rodeo in Ronan, MT where she was conducting in-the-moment interviews for this project

The accessibility of rural community events is directly tied to participation, and community participation can be tied to the accumulation of social capital. “Social capital is a tradeable resource that exists in a relationship. If you have social capital you can use it to gain other kinds of capital,” said Sage. “It provides opportunities to interact with other people who may have access to resources that you don’t have access to.”

These other kinds of capital could include things like favors, experiences, or a job. Another way to think of it could be as “cashing in” on a friendship or social connection in order to secure some sort of benefit, such as a job at a family friend’s store, or access to a behind-the-scenes space at a public event for someone who needs a place to sit in the shade and rest.

Having social capital could be especially important in rural communities, and could help overcome some of the limitations faced by young adults with disabilities as they transition into adulthood. “It’s a vulnerable period for most people, the transition after high school into whatever they’re going into, but for young adults with disabilities it’s even more critical for them to engage in meaningful activities that are going to enhance their lives,” said Sage.

Sage’s previous work has pointed to how the inequality gap between poor/working class and middle/upper class young adults grows during the period of transition into adulthood, even if they go to college. Now, in this new study, she hopes to see if the social capital in rural communities can help young adults with disabilities compensate for some of the other inequalities and challenges they may be facing. Continue reading

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.

mobile-website-header-banner-01-01

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