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
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.
“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
Would you like to know more about RTC:Rural’s recent research results and solutions? We’ve produced two research summaries that provide an overview of our community-based research. Our projects integrate disability stakeholder collaboration to develop evidence-based solutions that are relevant, appropriate, and respond to the unique needs of people with disabilities living in rural communities.
The Executive Summary provides an abbreviated overview of some of RTC:Rural’s current research findings, as well as some of the products, tools, and solutions that have been developed in response to those findings and the needs of people with disabilities in rural communities. View an accessible PDF of the two-page RTC:Rural Executive Summary below:
Two-page Executive Summary: RTC:Rural- Research that Leads to Solutions for Rural Americans with Disabilities (PDF)
The Research Summary provides a detailed overview of RTC:Rural’s current research findings in the following domains:
- Geography and Rural Disability, including: the geography of disability in rural America and access to Centers for Independent Living
- Health and Rural Disability, including: the rural disability penalty, transitory and enduring disability, rural healthcare access, and Healthy Community Living
- Rural Community Living, including: home usability and community participation, accessibility and participation, participation in rural events, self-advocacy, and rural transportation
- Employment, including: self-employment, premature exit from the VR system, rural contracted services, and increasing employment outcomes through telecommunications and online strategies
10-page Research Summary: RTC:Rural Research Summary_2017 (PDF)
Through our research, RTC:Rural uncovers relationships among personal and environmental factors that influence quality of life. We incorporate these relationships into our research agenda and utilize stakeholders to help us understand them. Our projects integrate disability stakeholder collaboration to develop solution-focused results that are both relevant and appropriate for intended rural audiences. Through a shared understanding of rural contexts, we work to engage regional and national disability leaders in sharing understanding of how emerging policies impact rural communities and to help understand and prepare for challenges coming in the future.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Toolkit, individualized training in the voucher program model, and technical assistance, please contact APRIL Executive Director Billy Altom at email@example.com.
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
Current natural disasters, including the wildfires burning across the Western United States and the hurricanes impacting the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard, require us to look at the best practices and resources available to support all people, including those with disabilities, in preparing for and dealing with emergencies. In rural America, where it can be challenging to access resources on a good day due to geography, transportation, or scarcity, inclusive preparation and response is especially important.
Here are a couple resources that RTC:Rural and our partners recommend that can help people with disabilities plan for and recover from emergencies and other natural disasters.
Emergency Preparedness Toolkit
The Montana Disability and Health Program (MTDH) Emergency Preparedness Toolkit contains resources to help individuals with disabilities, their families, caretakers, and communities plan and prepare for emergency situations. The toolkit’s purpose is to increase awareness of inclusive emergency preparedness planning, and to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in emergency planning, from the individual to the community and state levels.
The Toolkit contains information on many topics, including:
- How to register and record medical information so it can be clearly communicated with medical personnel during an emergency
- How to assess emergency shelters for accessibility
- First aid tips for pet owners
- Emergency driving tactics and tips
- How to promote involvement of people with disabilities in the planning stages of emergency preparedness
FTA Hurricane Harvey Information for Transit Agencies
In addition, Billy Altom, the Executive Director of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, shared this information from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) about Hurricane Harvey and the FTA Emergency Relief Program, which contains useful information for transit agencies who receive FTA funds. Continue reading