The webinar is about supporting rural communities by connecting older adults and people with disabilities to resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The webinar will feature researchers and program leaders including:
- Amanda Reichard, PhD, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, ACL (Moderator)
- Lance Robertson, Administrator, ACL (Introduction and welcome)
- Collette Adamsen, PhD, Director, National Resource Center on Native American Aging
- Sara Tribe Clark, Director, Eldercare Locator
- Richard Petty, MBA, Director, IL-NET National Training and Technical Assistance Center for independent living at ILRU
- Andrew Myers, MA, University of Montana Rural Institute
The webinar will be held on Zoom, and registration is not required.Continue reading
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your rural community?
RTC:Rural is collecting real stories from real people in rural places who are impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
We want to help shed light on what is actually happening in the lives of people with disabilities from the perspectives of consumers, family members, caregivers and service providers. We feel the uniqueness and complexity of individual stories are important to share. The needs of rural people with disabilities should be considered in efforts to address the impact of COVID-19.
Contact us if you are interested in creating and sharing real stories! Our staff can set up an interview time and format that works well for you. Participants can choose whether or not to remain anonymous in the stories we share together.Continue reading
RTC:Rural just launched a new website, the Rural Disability Resource Library. The website was created to be an easily accessible and searchable set of resources for people with disabilities who live in rural areas. It contains fact sheets, how-to guides, info for conducting workshops, web resources, and much more.
Who is it intended for?
Many different people will find the resources on this website useful. There are resources for people with different types of disabilities and their family members. Some resources are also designed for people who serve those with disabilities, such as policy makers and care givers. The resources listed here have been designed for, or are useful for, those who live in rural areas but could also be useful for people living in more urban areas.
Why a rural resource library?
Rural towns are different than cities and the people who live there sometimes have different needs. There are lots of resources available online for people with disabilities, but it can be difficult to sort through them and find ones that are most useful. Also, very few resources exist that have been designed with rural communities in mind. This website helps make the job of finding relevant resources easier for people who live in rural areas, and those who serve them.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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
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.
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
RTC: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
Over 120 individuals registered for our 2017 State of the Science event, “Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Job Development.” The live, participatory webinar was held June 22, 2017 and was attended by State Vocational Rehabilitation staff and administrators, researchers and job development providers from around the country. For those who missed or were unable to register for the live session, an archived recording of the webinar is now available.
The agenda featured a presentation on RTC:Rural employment research by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director of Rural Employment Research followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included: Betsy Hopkins, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation at the Maine Department of Labor; Mimi Schafer, Rehabilitation Area Manager for Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services; Jessica Adams, Program Manager for Community Connections, Inc.; Joe Xavier, Director of the California Department of Rehabilitation; and Dr. Susan Foley, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Panelist bios can be viewed here: State of the Science webinar features a panel of experts from the VR field.
To begin the webinar, Dr. Ipsen shared RTC:Rural demographic research by Research Associates Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers regarding rural disparities. Using American Community Survey data, Greiman and Myers examined differences in rates of poverty, employment, and those out of the labor force for people with and without disabilities in rural and urban areas.
Dr. Ipsen then presented work on two RTC:Rural employment research projects: Premature Exit from VR Services and Rural Contracted Services. “Access to timely job development services is vital to keeping people engaged in the VR program,” said Dr. Ipsen. “Many providers, however, are reluctant to serve rural areas due to barriers imposed by distance, economic opportunity, and VR payment and referral models.” Continue reading
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
Here at RTC:Rural, we know from working with our stakeholders that there are many unique aspects of living in a rural environment – both challenges and opportunities. Our Center provides technical assistance to people with disabilities and their service providers to address these challenges.
A recent article in The Conversation’s series on rural America, by researchers at Tufts University, recently coined a new term: the “Civic Desert.” They use Civic Desert to refer to “places characterized by a dearth of opportunities for civic and political learning and engagement, and without institutions that typically provide opportunities like youth programming, culture and arts organizations and religious congregations.” Click here to read their analysis of the effects of such a lack of access to civic opportunities on youth voting, titled “Study: 60 percent of rural millennials lack access to a political life.”
The challenge of access to civic opportunity for rural youth with disabilities is an issue that crosses boundaries of political parties and values. RTC:Rural and our partners are currently working to address this issue in several ways.
APRIL Youth Advocacy Committee – We provide technical assistance to the new Youth Advocacy Committee of the Associate of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL). This committee, an outgrowth of the vibrant youth activities at the annual APRIL conference, brings together rural youth from across the country to prioritize and address issues associated with living with a disability in rural America. The committee has regular meetings – for more information contact APRIL Youth Programs Coordinator Sierra Royster. Continue reading