Tag Archives: research

RTC:Rural researchers publish new paper on trust of information and COVID-19 preventative practices among people with disabilities

first page of the paper.

RTC:Rural researchers recently published a study examining trust in information sources and compliance with COVID-19 public health recommendations among people with disabilities who live in rural and urban locations. “A cross-sectional analysis of trust of information and COVID-19 preventative practices among people with disabilities” was published in Disability and Health Journal, and is currently available online. The research was carried out by RTC:Rural Director Catherine Ipsen and Project Directors Andrew Myers and Rayna Sage

The purpose of the study was to better understand the relationship between how much someone trusts an information source and how likely they are to adhere to COVID-19 preventative practices. Specifically, the researchers wanted to see how disability type, demographics, and geography might be related to trust and adherence to preventative practices.

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Rural Institute project seeking volunteers with SCI for online intervention study

ZEST- promoting the psychological health of women with SCI

Social distancing during COVID-19 can leave many people feeling isolated and disconnected from their communities, which can have negative impacts on their psychological health. For those who have high-speed internet connections and devices that allow them to get online, virtual groups offer one way to stay connected.

Researchers at the Rural Institute are partnering with researchers at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas, to test ZEST, an online psychological health promotion intervention for women with spinal cord injury (SCI). ZEST is a group program held in Second Life, an online virtual world.  

Volunteers may be eligible if they: 

  • Are a woman at least 18 years of age
  • Have had a spinal cord injury
  • Have had their injury for at least 1 year
  • Have access to a computer with high speed internet
  • Are able to use a computer and communicate in online group conversations in English

A small payment is offered for participation.

Volunteers are being recruited now through August 2020.

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APRIL members share input in RTC:Rural survey

First page of the APRIL Members Input Survey Summarized Results. Links in post to PDF and text-only versions.

Cover of the APRIL Members Input Survey Summarized Results. To view or download the full results, follow the links in the post.

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

Rural Institute researchers awarded 5-year grant to continue research and training

The University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a five-year, $4.3 million grant to support its Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural). The grant was awarded by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, and will be led by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, the project’s principal investigator. The award continues 30 years of RTC:Rural research and training to improve the lives of rural people with disabilities.

RTC:Rural staff photo. See caption for list of names.

RTC:Rural staff pose for a picture at UM. Front row (left to right): Tannis Hargrove, Lillie Greiman, Justice Ender. Back row (left to right): Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Andrew Myers, Lauren Smith, Maggie Lawrence, Tracy Boehm Barrett. Not pictured: Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Dr. Meg Traci, Dr. Rayna Sage, and Dr. Bryce Ward.

“The opportunity to build on our past work and continue to conduct applied research with our stakeholders from the disability community is a great honor,” said Ipsen.

RTC:Rural research will address barriers identified by rural people with disabilities in the areas of health, community living, and employment. These barriers are often related to the limited resources available in rural environments. “Our team of researchers and knowledge translation staff have put together a portfolio of projects and activities that are responsive to, and inclusive of, people with disabilities and those who serve them,” said Tracy Boehm Barrett, RTC:Rural Director of Knowledge Translation. Continue reading

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