Tag Archives: VR

RTC:Rural shares Self-Employment Guide with Tribal VR

logo for Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitaiton, Inc. A bald eagle with the international symbol for disability in front of a background patterend with Native American designs. Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director of Employment Research, and Lauren Smith, Knowledge Translation Associate, recently presented at the Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR) 2018 Mid-Year conference held in Prior Lake, Minnesota. In their presentation, “Expanding Counselor and Consumer Capacity in Self-Employment,” Ipsen and Smith highlighted RTC:Rural’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Self-Employment Guide, developed as part of the Rural Self-Employment Opportunities research project. The presentation showcased the online guide, shared interactive materials, and explored strategies for using the website in the counseling process.

The VR Self-Employment Guide is a multi-media website created to help people with disabilities and vocational rehabilitation counselors better understand the self-employment process. Consumers and counselors can work from the same material to decide if self-employment is a good option, and if so, to develop a feasible business plan. The website is self-directed, and can be used by individuals on their own or with the guidance of a VR counselor or business development mentor. Continue reading

RTC:Rural is thankful for opportunities to share research at fall conferences

RTC:Rural is wrapping up the fall conference season, which began Oct. 20-23rd in Spokane, WA at the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference. Since then, RTC:Rural researchers have represented rural disability at five other conferences around the country. Below are some of our take-aways, and we also shared some photos on Facebook!

Montana Healthy Communities

Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Director of Employment Research; Dr. Meg Ann Traci, Montana Disability and Health Program (MTDH) Project Director; Dr. Rayna Sage, Research Associate; Lillie Greiman, Research Associate; and Andrew Myers, Research Associate, attended the Montana Healthy Communities conference, which was held November 1-2 in Helena, Montana. The conference brought together community development and health leaders from across the state to explore the future of community health improvement.

“A lot can be achieved working at the local level, particularly in rural communities,” said Lillie Greiman. “At the local level, rural communities understand the role of the environment in health, and engaging with others who live and work in rural helps us better understand both the similarities and uniqueness of rural communities across the country.”

American Public Health Association

researcher explaining poster to conference participant

Dr. Rayna Sage presenting her poster at APHA 2017

Dr. Meg Traci, MTDH Program Director, Helen Russette, MTDH Program Coordinator, and Dr. Rayna Sage, Research Associate, attended the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting & Expo, which was held November 4-8 in Atlanta, Georgia.

A variety of RTC:Rural research was presented at the conference including:

Also at the conference, Dr. Tom Seekins, RTC:Rural Co-Director, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, which Dr. Traci accepted on his behalf.

Association of University Centers on Disabilities

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Showcasing RTC:Rural employment and VR research products

RTC:Rural‘s long running Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation research project explores solutions to assist rural rehabilitation service providers in helping people with disabilities achieve and maintain employment.

Over the last six months we have produced several new tools to help vocational rehabilitation professionals provide their best services. We are also holding a live State of the Science webinar on Effective Rural Vocational Rehabilitation Job Development, to be held June 22, 2017 at 10:00am MDT.

Click the links below for more details on each item: 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

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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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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Social media tips added to career development tool

Telecom Toolbox logo with multi-colored icon bubbles emerging from a toolbox.We recently expanded the Telecom Toolbox to include social media strategies for job seeking. The revamped Toolbox includes sections on online communication, online career development, and ethics.

The Communication section provides tips for using email, text messaging, and video to improve consumer / VR counselor communication.  Research shows frequent contact with consumers improves VR outcomes (Ipsen & Goe, 2016) and online methods provide additional avenues for this communication to take place.

Building an online presence can be overwhelming, but having positive search results is increasingly important when searching for a job. The Online Career Development section covers a variety strategies for using different social media platforms during the job search process. For instance, LinkedIn can be used to showcase professional accomplishments, network with colleagues, blog content related to your field and even apply for a job.  The first step to use LinkedIn effectively is creating an appealing profile. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can help create an online identity as well.  For example, if you were a landscaper, you could use Instagram to share before and after pictures of a yard you landscaped which illustrates “proof of performance”.  Twitter can be used to network and ask questions of industry leaders, while Facebook can be used to cast a wide net for leads when searching for a job.  The section also includes strategies for managing “digital dirt”, effectively utilizing job boards, researching employers, keyword optimization and researching employers are explored as well.

As social media becomes pervasive, so does examples of missteps.  There are many things to consider when consumers, counselors and VR agencies use social media and the Ethics section of the Telecom Toolbox helps navigate this brave new world.

We are excited about the changes in the Telecom Toolbox and look forward to updating the website as social media use continues to grow and evolve.