Tag Archives: vocational rehabilitation

RTC:Rural developing self-employment training module for VR counselors and consumers

RTC:Rural and our partners have been working for a number of years to promote self-employment among people with disabilities in the vocational rehabilitation system, as it is an option that addresses some of the barriers to employment of living in a rural community.

Starting in 2015, in partnership with the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation (USOR) and other stakeholders, RTC:Rural researchers developed a self-employment manual, along with policies and procedures to help Utah vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors become better prepared to guide consumers through the self-employment process.

RTC:Rural is currently working to adapt the USOR manual into an online module, incorporating direct feedback from stakeholders to make the material more applicable and accessible to a wider audience, including consumers themselves. Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Associate Director for the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities and the Director of Employment Research at RTC:Rural, is leading the project.

Previous research by RTC:Rural has shown that self-employment is a viable option for many people with disabilities, but is an underutilized option within the VR system. Reasons for this vary, but include VR counselors feeling ill equipped to help consumers determine if business ideas are feasible, and concerns over case costs, business failure, and income potential. The self-employment module aims to alleviate some of those concerns and provide VR counselors with the tools they need to help consumers achieve successful employment outcomes. Continue reading

RTC Director of Employment Research publishes paper on self-employment

Dr. Catherine Ipsen headshot

Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Rural Institute Associate Director and RTC:Rural Employment Project Director

Dr. Catherine Ipsen’s paper “Rural and urban vocational rehabilitation self-employment outcomes” was published in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Dr. Ipsen is the Associate Director for the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities and the Director of Rural Employment Research at RTC:Rural. Dr. Ipsen co-authored the paper with Dr. Grant Swicegood, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Central Methodist University.

The paper examines self-employment rates among vocational rehabilitation (VR) consumers in rural versus urban areas, noting that rates are higher in rural areas.

Dr. Ipsen and Swicegood report that VR consumers who are self-employed work fewer hours per week and earn more than those in competitive job placements. In spite of this, the study found that many VR agencies do not promote self-employment to their clients, for a variety of reasons.

Man working at a desk

Self-employment is a viable option for people with disabilities, especially in rural communities, though many VR agencies do not promote self-employment to their clients, for a variety of reasons.

Drs. Ipsen and Swicegood conclude that self-employment is a viable option for people with disabilities, especially in rural communities.

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RTC:Rural to present research at NARRTC 2017 “Taking Charge of Change”

RTC:Rural staff member presenting at a conference

RTC:Rural researcher presenting at a conference

In April 2017, RTC:Rural researchers will present three current research projects at the 2017 NARRTC conference, to be held this year in Alexandria, Virginia.

This conference provides an annual opportunity for grantees of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to come together and share their latest research findings.  Training and knowledge translation methodologies and results are also shared. This year’s theme is “Taking Charge of Change.”

Projects presented aim to enhance interventions, programs or systems to improve the lives of people with disabilities. These research projects fall into the priority categories of Community Participation & Independent Living, Employment & Vocational Rehabilitation, Health & Wellness, and Knowledge Translation.

RTC:Rural is on the agenda with two presentations and one poster:

1. Using Participatory Curriculum Development as an Integrated Knowledge Translation Strategy (Presentation)

Authors: Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., Tracy Boehm Barrett, M.P.H., Tannis Hargrove, M.S., Mary Olson, MSW

Self-management and health promotion remain a significant challenge for people with disabilities living in rural areas. Online learning is a promising avenue to make evidence-based programs available to people, yet the best approaches to implementing online content for rural people with disabilities are unknown.

To establish these best approaches, RTC:Rural is partnering with stakeholders from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) and eight Centers for Independent Living across the country to develop two health promotion programs that blend online and face-to-face learning. These programs are based on the Living Well with a Disability program. Continue reading

At AUCD 2016, RTC:Rural presented research to help inform VR service delivery for people with disabilities

Catherine Ipsen, Ph.D., Director of Employment Research at RTC:Rural and Associate Director of the Rural Institute on Inclusive Communities (RIIC) recently returned from the 2016 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) conference in Washington DC. At the conference, Ipsen delivered a poster presentation to approximately 40 attendees, titled “Factors Associated with Premature Exit from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services.”

Catherine Ipsen presenting her poster "Factors Associated with Premature Exit from Vocational Rehabilitation Services" at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) 2016 conference in Washington DC.

Catherine Ipsen presenting her poster “Factors Associated with Premature Exit from Vocational Rehabilitation Services” at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) 2016 conference in Washington DC.

The conference, “Navigating Change: Building our Future Together,” focused on strong collaborations across programs and political parties to build a future where people with disabilities are able to participate fully in all aspects of life.

The presentation focused on understanding the reasons VR consumers drop out of the VR program before completing services. Ipsen & Goe (2015) tracked 355 consumers as they progressed through VR services. Over the 18-month study period, approximately one third of consumers left because they met their goals, a third left for personal reasons (such as their health or family issues), and a third left because they were dissatisfied with services.

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Telecom Toolbox supports Disability Employment Awareness Month

Telecom Tololbox logoIn celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we are showcasing the Telecom Toolbox, a website and blog dedicated to career development using social media and online methods. Man with infantile cerebral palsy using a computer.The Telecom Toolbox is a product of RTC:Rural research about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) professional’s use of social media. While the internet has become the primary resource for job seekers and employers, VR agencies are not fully utilizing current job seeking methods.  In fact, research shows that online career development practices are partially limited in VR due to counselor unpreparedness to use social media.

To address this barrier, the Telecom Toolbox includes specific ideas for how consumers and counselors can use online tools and social media platforms in a job search process. These include strategies to: Continue reading