Tag Archives: disability

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

Start your week off right with #MapMonday, our new “Disability in America” map series

Portion of a map showing disability rates in every county in the United StatesRTC:Rural is excited to announce the launch of “Disability in America,” a new series of maps produced from our research. Every Monday, a new map will be revealed – you may follow and share this series on social media with the #MapMonday hashtag via the RTC:Rural Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Some of the maps can be previewed on the RTC:Rural website here: Disability in American Map Series.

“Place matters. To understand rural America, you have to see rural America. These maps help build a sense of place for those who can’t road trip across America to see the diversity of rural communities themselves,” said Dr. Craig Ravesloot, RTC:Rural Director.

The “Disability in America” maps are based on demographic data collected through the American Community Survey and cover disability rates, rates of particular types of disabilities, and other status of people with disabilities such as poverty and employment. They were created as part of our Geography and Rural Disability project and have implications for organizations and agencies working on disability topics nationwide.

“These maps show that disability in the Southeast is different from Northeast, which is different the Midwest and the West. The researchers at RTC:Rural work every day to understand the variety of rural places so that our solutions are effective across rural America,” said Andrew Myers, Research Associate. Continue reading

Living Well with a Disability Program featured in national webinar on Building Inclusive Programs

On July 18, 2017, staff from RTC:Rural presented at the webinar “Building Inclusive Programs to Serve Adults with Disabilities,” hosted by the National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging. The webinar was well attended, with 320 participants from around the country. The webinar was recorded; click here to view the video or download presentation slides.

RTC:Rural Knowledge Translation Director Tracy Boehm Barrett and Montana Disability and Health Program Director Meg Ann Traci provided an overview of our successful Living Well with a Disability (LWD) program including its research and development history, and how it has been expanded and sustained over the years, which has been largely influenced by consumer and service provider input.

A group of seven people, three sitting in wheelchairs, at a workshop outside around a tableLWD is an evidence-based, peer-led health promotion and self-management program for adults with disabilities, recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It focuses on developing a healthy and balanced lifestyle as a vehicle to reach individual quality-of-life goals.

To date, our program has trained 1,218 Living Well with a Disability workshop facilitators, representing nearly 300 community agencies in 46 states.  Nearly 10,000 individuals with disabilities have been served through the Living Well with a Disability program.

In addition to the presentation on the development, implementation, and successes of LWD, the webinar featured a third presenter, Karl Cooper, Esq. of the American Association on Health and Disability. Mr. Cooper provided an overview of the health and disability landscape in the United States. Helpful resources and strategies for ensuring evidence-based programs are accessible for all were also featured.

“We were very pleased to be invited to participate in this webinar and share its historical research and development,” says Tracy Boehm Barrett. “Living Well has been a launch pad program to engage people with disabilities in self-management of their health in a way that recognizes the unique barriers and secondary health conditions that people with disabilities experience.  In the spirit of building inclusive communities, providing the tools and resources for managing one’s health and well-being is essential to ensuring community participation by all. We want to thank the Center for Health Aging for inviting us to present!” Continue reading

Finding and Using Data for Advocacy guide now available

Cover of Finding and Using Data for Advocacy How-To GuideWe are pleased to share our newly revised Finding and Using Data for Advocacy How-To Guide. Part of RTC:Rural’s new Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit, Finding and Using Data for Advocacy is a resource that can be used to supplement an advocacy skill building workshop, or as a stand-alone resource for anyone who would like to use data to support their advocacy goals.

Finding and Using Data for Advocacy explains what data is and how it is used to support advocacy, and provides links to public data sets related to disability, including RTC:Rural’s Disability Counts Data Finder, the Community & Work Disparities (ADA-PARC) website, and Disability Statistics, among others. The guide also includes prompts to guide users in determining what type of data would be most helpful for their advocacy and how to incorporate that data into their personal testimony.

Other How-To Guides featured in the Toolkit include Writing Effective Letters to Decision Makers and Creating Your Personal Testimony to Influence Policy Change, both of which are available for download on the Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit website.

The How-To Guides were developed and updated from previous products developed by the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, and are influenced by RTC:Rural’s successful Living Well with a Disability program.

New Research Explores Disability at the Household Level

A family of a man using a wheelchair, a woman, and a young man pose together outside.

Picture from Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

A new RTC:Rural Research Brief by RTC:Rural partner Christiane von Reichert, Ph.D., Professor of Geography at the University of Montana, presents research on disability rates at the household level. The brief, titled “Prevalence of Disability: Individual and Household Context,” is available for download on the Geography and Rural Disability page on the RTC:Rural website. This work highlights the number of people without disabilities who live in households with someone with a disability, and contributes to a larger study on migration and disability and rural/urban differences in disability levels.

In this study, von Reichert analyzed American Community Survey data to determine the number of households in the United States that have at least one member with a disability. She found that about 308 million Americans, or 97% of the total population, live in households. About 41 million, or 13%, of Americans have at least one type of disability, and 38 million of them live in households. The others live in group quarters, which include dormitories, nursing homes, and prisons.

Of those who live in households, 230 million are people who do not have a disability, and live in a household with no members with disabilities. Approximately 78 million people without disabilities live in households with a member who experiences a disability. This means that nearly 25% of the US population lives in a household with a member with a disability.

This analysis highlights the fact that the impact of disability goes beyond the individual level and extends to the household-level, said von Reichert, an insight that needs to be taken into consideration for future disability research and policy-making.

RTC:Rural presents geography research on disability and employment rates at AAG meeting

Conference presentation showing speakers and slide behind with map of the USA

RTC:Rural Researcher Andrew Myers presenting at the American Association of Geographers 2017 annual meeting in Boston, MA. Photo Credit: Sandy Wong.

RTC:Rural’s presentation at the 2017 American Association of Geographers annual meeting generated enthusiastic conversation about the values and challenges of using big data to address rural issues.  Andrew Myers, Research Associate at RTC: Rural, recently returned from this conference, held in Boston, MA. There, he presented RTC:Rural research on current disability patterns in rural America with a focus on employment rates. His presentation, titled “Current Disability Patterns in Rural America,” was part of the Geographies of Disability 1: Mapping and Accessibility session. Coauthors include RTC:Rural Research Associate Lillie Greiman and University of Montana graduate student Kourtney Johnson.

The AAG’s Disability Specialty Group brought international researchers together to share the latest geographical research about disability. Myers is a board member of the AAG Disability Specialty Group, and helped organize the “Geographies of Disability” track at the conference.

Using data from the American Community Survey, Myers, Greiman, and Johnson found that the national disability rate in the United States is 12.5%. When they looked at the county level, they found that disability rates were higher in rural counties, at 17.7%, than in urban ones, with rates of only 11.8%.

Overall, employment rates for people with disabilities are lower in rural areas, which follows the national trend of lower employment rates in rural areas. However, said Myers, “It would be misleading to say that rates of employment [for people with disabilities] always go down as you get more rural. In fact, in some rural communities employment rates of people with disabilities are higher than the national average of 33%.”

Myers, Greiman, and Johnson have a number of hypotheses they are investigating, and are currently writing up their findings for publication. Continue reading

RTC:Rural contributing to disability sessions at the American Association of Geographers annual meeting this week

This week, RTC:Rural researcher Andrew Myers will coordinate and participate in the discussion of American disability demographics, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). This three-session track contributes to the conference’s featured theme “Mainstreaming Human Rights in Geography and the AAG.”

RTC:Rural researcher presenting at a conference

The AAG conference is the primary annual gathering of geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other leaders from around the country. To be held April 5-9, 2017 in Boston, MA, the conference will feature over 6,900 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips by leading scholars, experts, and researchers. It includes the latest in research and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience.

RTC:Rural researcher Andrew Myers is a board member of the AAG’s Disability Specialty Group, and is an organizer of the three-part “Geographies of Disability” track at the conference. The components of this track are:

As part of the Mapping and Accessibility paper session, Myers will present “Current Disability Patterns in Rural America.” This presentation includes the recent findings of RTC:Rural’s Geography of Disability project, which analyzed American Community Survey data for the demographics of people with disability living in rural areas and the services available to them. Results reveal that rates of disability are higher in rural areas across many demographic categories such as age, race, veteran status, and impairment type. Employment rates vary in correspondence with the urban-rural continuum as well. Geographical nuances are an important factor in explaining these findings. Co-authors of these findings include RTC:Rural researcher Lillie Greiman and University of Montana graduate student Kourtney Johnson. Continue reading

RTC:Rural study finds longstanding interpretation of disability data incomplete

Researchers with RTC:Rural have shown that the standardized disability questions used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identify two distinct groups of people with disabilities: those with permanent disability and those with temporary disability. Their findings were published today in the American Journal of Public Health: click here to read the full journal article.

Man with cane walking in front of farm

Researchers at RTC:Rural have shown that the standardized disability questions used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identify two distinct groups of people with disabilities: those with permanent disability and those with temporary disability.

The findings contradict the long-standing assumption by researchers and policymakers who use HHS disability data that it represents only people with long-term disabilities. The RTC:Rural study clarifies the survey collects information from two important subgroups: those with permanent disability, and those experiencing a temporary disability at the time of the survey.

The title of the paper is “Disability Items from the Current Population Survey (2008-2015) and Permanent Versus Temporary Disability Status.” Coauthors on the study include Bryce Ward, associate director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at UM; RTC:Rural research associates Andrew Myers and Jennifer Wong; and Craig Ravesloot, RTC:Rural director.

“Our findings suggest that the current understanding of the entire population of people with disabilities based on HHS data is incomplete, because we have not yet accurately described the characteristics and status of these two subgroups,” said Ravesloot. “This can potentially have huge implications in public health policies.”

Continue reading

Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America

RTC:Rural is proud that our researchers were invited to contribute to this article, which was published in The Conversation on March 17, 2017, and subsequently on PBS News, US News & World Report, and Salon.


Authors: Brian Thiede, Pennsylvania State University; Lillie Greiman, The University of Montana; Stephan Weiler, Colorado State University; Steven C. Beda, University of Oregon, and Tessa Conroy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Editor’s note: We’ve all heard of the great divide between life in rural and urban America. But what are the factors that contribute to these differences? We asked sociologists, economists, geographers and historians to describe the divide from different angles. The data paint a richer and sometimes surprising picture of the U.S. today. The Conversation

1. Poverty is higher in rural areas

Discussions of poverty in the United States often mistakenly focus on urban areas. While urban poverty is a unique challenge, rates of poverty have historically been higher in rural than urban areas. In fact, levels of rural poverty were often double those in urban areas throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

While these rural-urban gaps have diminished markedly, substantial differences persist. In 2015, 16.7 percent of the rural population was poor, compared with 13.0 percent of the urban population overall – and 10.8 percent among those living in suburban areas outside of principal cities.

Continue reading

RTC:Rural researchers featured in The Conversation article highlighting rural/urban divide

Headshots of the RTC:Rural researchers

Lillie Greiman, Andrew Myers and Christiane von Reichert

We are proud that the feature article of today’s issue of The Conversation newsletter includes the work of RTC:Rural’s geography project.

Lillie Greiman, M.A., and Andrew Myers, M.A., RTC:Rural Research Associates, with Christiane von Reichert, Ph.D., Professor of Geography at the University of Montana, contributed to an article about the rural/urban divide that was recently published on The Conversation.

Titled “Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America,” the article is a collaboration among the UM researchers and sociologists, economists, and historians at universities around the country. The article explores factors that contribute to the differences between life in rural and urban areas.

Greiman, Myers, and von Reichert contributed the section about disability rates across the country, based on their previous research and analysis of the most recent American Community Survey data.

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. It is a foundation-supported news source with a mission to help professors get high-quality research into the public sphere.