Tag Archives: research

Knowledge Translation in Action: Making Research More Accessible

Closeup hands typing on a laptopTo translate: to take something written in one language and express it in another. Or, to change something into a new form. This is precisely what RTC:Rural’s Knowledge Translation team does.

Knowledge Translation is an important part of making sure RTC:Rural’s research is accessible. Accessibility doesn’t refer to only alternative formats, such as Braille or screen-reader friendly—it’s also about making sure the content is easily understood, relevant, and useful to the people who are reading, viewing, or listening to that information. RTC:Rural’s Knowledge Translation team works to make sure that all RTC:Rural research is in the best format for its intended audience, be they people with disabilities and their families, service providers, other researchers, or policy makers.

RTC:Rural uses Knowledge Translation throughout the entire research process, from the research design phase to disseminating the final results. One recent example of this is in the collaboration between Knowledge Translation and the Effort Capacity and Choice project team. The Effort Capacity and Choice project examines the relationship between personal effort and community participation. To do so, the project studies the impacts of two interventions. In the Home Project Intervention, researchers install adaptive bathing equipment in the participant’s bathroom, reducing the amount of effort it takes to bathe and use their bathroom. In the Exercise Project Intervention, participants receive physical therapy in order to increase their physical capacity. Continue reading

RTC:Rural Researcher Offers Graduate Seminar on Rural Disability and Health

Rayna Sage talking into a microphone

Dr. Rayna Sage, RTC:Rural Research Associate, presenting at the 2017 APRIL conference in Spokane, Washington.

RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, who is also an adjunct instructor in the Sociology department at the University of Montana, is offering a graduate-level seminar for the Spring 2018 semester called “Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health.” In the seminar, students will produce rapid literature reviews on topics of interest to the RTC:Rural.

“The first few weeks we’ll be getting a good foothold in disability literature,” said Dr. Sage. “I want to focus on how interdisciplinary the field is.” Students will learn about disability as an identity and as a product of the environment. They’ll also learn the history of disability rights and the Independent Living Movement, as well as how disability functions in the health care system. There will be an emphasis on experiences in rural America.

The main course objectives are to produce rapid literature reviews on topics that are related to RTC:Rural research interests. After choosing a topic, students will research the existing literature on that topic, and produce reviews of these papers. They will work closely with RTC:Rural Knowledge Translation staff to turn their literature reviews into materials that can be used by service providers, policymakers, advocates, and other researchers. These materials will be published on the RTC:Rural website.

Dr. Sage is excited for students to learn about how disability intersects with other social statuses like race, gender, and class from interdisciplinary perspectives including sociology, geography, public health, psychology, and economics while also assisting students in building important writing skills they can take into their academic and professional lives.

For more information, check out the course description flier:

SOCI 595: Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health

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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Dr. Tom Seekins honored with Lifetime Achievement Award from American Public Health Association

RTC:Rural co-director Dr. Tom Seekins was recently honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Public Health Association (APHA). The award “is presented to a person who, over the course of his or her career, has made a major contribution to the improvement of health and quality of life for people with disabilities through research, teaching, advocacy, or practice.”

To see a captioned video of Dr. Seekins’ acceptance speech, click on the embedded video below.


Dr. Seekins was also honored at the 2017 Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference in Spokane for his support, involvement, and contributions to the Rural Independent Living and Disability Rights Movement.

Honoring Tom Seekins

The following is reprinted from the 23rd APRIL conference program with permission.

Dr. Tom Seekins and Dr. Glen White posing after Dr. Seekins accepts his award from Dr. White.

Dr. Tom Seekins (left) accepting his award at the APRIL 2017 conference from Dr. Glen White (right).

Dr. Tom Seekins was one of the very first people I met when I began my work with APRIL.  I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.  He, along with Dr. Devva Kasnitz and Linda Gonzales wrote our Rural Transportation Demonstration grant through the Department of Education which allowed APRIL to finally hire staff, i.e. me!!  Tom is such a genuine and gentle soul.  His soft-spoken manner and kind face represent home to many of us.  He is not only a steadfast supporter of APRIL but a trusted and respected voice and scholar in the Rural Independent Living field and for People with Disabilities as a whole.  His dedicated life’s work has helped us all understand the distribution of people with disabilities throughout our country and our communities and also highlights the continuing struggles that people with disabilities in Rural America deal with in trying to access services.  His contributions are invaluable.

Tom Seekins is the kind of person you would want around in a crisis.  He has a calming effect and a grounding energy that is so valuable and rare.  It has been my sincere honor to have worked with him for 17 years.  I am a better, more thoughtful person because of it.”

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Stakeholder Engagement Brings Value and Insight to Researchers at APRIL 2017

two people pointing at a poster and a map

RTC:Rural researcher Lillie Greiman showing our Network Analysis poster

RTC:Rural staff recently traveled to Spokane, Washington, for the 23rd annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference.

“Attending APRIL gives us a chance to connect with the real people, both service providers and consumers, who work on the ground every day,” said RTC:Rural Research Associate Lillie Greiman. Those connections allow RTC:Rural staff to share, gather feedback and solicit input on our research and resources.  Added Research Associate Andrew Myers, “The APRIL conference gives us the opportunity to hear about the lived experiences of people with disabilities in rural communities all across the county, and these stories can help inform our research and improve the work we do.”

Tools for Today and Tomorrow – Presentation

workshop participants listening to a panel of speakers

RTC:Rural research Tannis Hargrove presenting about the Healthy Community Living program

Researchers shared information about new and current RTC:Rural projects and products in a packed workshop called Asking Question Leads to Solutions: Tools for Today and Tomorrow, which highlighted some of the many RTC:Rural products and tools that have been developed as a result of our research. Presenters provided information about:

All of these resources can be found on the Rural Disability Resource Library website.

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Exchanging Knowledge and Expertise: RTC:Rural to engage with stakeholders at APRIL conference

Logo for the 23rd APRIL conference. Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.

Spokane, here we come!

RTC:Rural is busy prepping for the 23rd annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference, which will be held October 20-23rd 2017, in Spokane, Washington. This year’s theme is “Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.”

As well as having two vendor tables inviting engagement with conference attendees, RTC:Rural staff will give two presentations. The first, “Social Media: Reaching Farther, Working Better” will be about using social media in telecommunication and to promote independent living skills, and the second, titled “Asking Questions Leads to Solutions: Tools for Today and Tomorrow” will be a workshop featuring RTC:Rural research that has led to tools and products.

Social Media: Reaching Farther, Working Better

In this presentation, RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, Communications Associate Justice Ender, and undergraduate student researcher Megan Miller will share tips and tricks on how Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can utilize social media to enhance workflow, bridge main and branch offices, and reach the rural communities they serve. Ender and Miller will also share research and practical tips on how to use Facebook to share information and encourage discussion. Dr Sage will share insights from her one-on-one interviews with young adults in rural communities, and discuss how they are—or are not—using social media to connect around local events.

Asking Questions Leads to Solutions: Tools for Today and Tomorrow

This workshop will highlight some of the many RTC:Rural products and tools that have been developed as a result of our research. Presenters include Director of Knowledge Translation Tracy Boehm Barrett, Director of Employment Research Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Project Director Lillie Greiman, Training Associate Maggie Lawrence, Communications Associate Kerry Morse, and Knowledge Translation Associate Lauren Smith. Continue reading

Does your bathroom routine drain your battery? How effort and exercise shape community participation

A bathroom with a shower chair and a grab bar in the shower.

Shower chairs and grab bars are some of the adaptive bathroom equipment used in this study. Photo from Healthy Community Living (www.healthycommunityliving.com).

What do showering, brushing your teeth, and “visiting the porcelain throne” have to do with energy levels and community participation? More than you might think, especially for people with mobility impairments.

Effort Capacity and Choice, a current research project at RTC:Rural led by Andrew Myers, is working to better understand how what happens in the bathroom impacts what happens outside of the bathroom. The project is a collaboration between the RTC:Rural, the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, and the New Directions program within the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Montana.

Previous RTC:Rural research has shown that many people who use mobility equipment live in homes that do not meet their needs, specifically in regards to the accessibility of their bathrooms and the entrances to their homes. 56% live in homes with inaccessible bathrooms, and 57% live in homes with a stepped entrance.

This is especially troubling as the need for affordable, accessible housing is only going to increase in the next few decades with an aging American population. 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.

RTC:Rural analysis of the American Time Use Survey has also shown that people with mobility impairments bathe less often, and when they do bathe they spend more time doing so. The Effort Capacity and Choice project builds on this information by investigating whether the amount of effort a person thinks they must exert affects their choices to be active at home and in their community. Continue reading

State of the Science webinar to feature a panel of experts from the VR field

Our 2017 State of the Science webinar on June 22, 2017 will focus on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Job Development. In addition to a review of RTC:Rural current research presented by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, the webinar will feature a panel of five experts in rural VR issues from around the country.

The webinar is designed to provide current and pertinent information that will stimulate a rich discussion among participants. Strategies to address VR outcomes will be discussed such as hybrid models that draw upon the strengths of different delivery models and the use of incentives to serve rural areas and “hard cases.”

The webinar is free, but registration is required. Registration for this event is limited and filling up quickly! If you are not able to attend the live webinar, an archive recording will be available after it is complete.

Click here for full details and to register.

Read below to learn more about each panelist. Continue reading

Mapping Disability and Employment

Improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities requires overcoming persistent rural conditions and barriers

Using data from the American Community Survey, RTC:Rural researchers created three maps to explore disability and employment. The three maps are:

  • Disability in America: Employment Rates
  • Disability in America: Unemployment Rates
  • Disability in America: Out of Labor Force

Full size images of these maps, and further analysis and text description of them, can be found on the RTC:Rural website at this link: Maps of Disability and Employment.

  • map of employment rates of people with disabilities in the US - click the link in this article for a full text description of the map
  • map of unemployment rates of people with disabilities in the US - click the link in this article for a full text description of the map
Continue reading

6 Essential Elements of Social Media Policy for VR Agencies

In a recently published paper in the Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin titled “Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Guidance on Social Media Use: A Policy Analysis,” RTC:Rural’s Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Director of Employment Research, and Rebecca Goe, Research Associate, examined the social media policies of 22 Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.

They found that only two VR policies covered recommended social media policy elements, and only one acknowledged social media as a tool for consumer job search.

From their analyses, Ipsen and Goe recommend six essential elements for a complete social media policy. These elements are presented in the following infographic. A full text description can be found below the image.

Access the full journal article here. Continue reading