Category Archives: News

RTC:Rural shares tribal VR self-employment toolkit in New Orleans

A mural painted on the side of a building. See caption for full text description.
A colorful mural painted on the side of a building in New Orleans. The mural says, “Greetings from NOLA.” The letters are filled with images of New Orleans culture including: people playing music, a Mardi Gras mask, a church, the city skyline, a crayfish boil, the Superdome and the fleur-de-lis logo of the New Orleans Saints football team.

At the beginning of December, RTC:Rural was in sunny New Orleans, Louisiana for the Consortia of Administrators for Native American Rehabilitation (CANAR) 2019 Annual Conference. RTC:Rural researchers Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Andrew Myers, and Lauren Smith met with advisor partners and presented on the Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Self-Employment Toolkit.

“Attending CANAR meetings allows us to meet face to face with our advisors and reach a broader audience of tribal stakeholders,” said Ipsen. “Together, we are developing a resource that is appropriate across tribal vocational rehabilitation programs.”

Continue reading

Working Well with a Disability facilitator training: register now!

Working Well with a Disability

Registration for the February 2020 Working Well with a Disability online facilitator training is now open. The training will take place over eight days, starting the week of February 3. Space is limited, so please only register if you know you can attend. Registration closes on January 20th, 2020.


Working Well with a Disability Facilitator Training Details

Training dates: February 3rd – 12th. Training includes online self-study and discussion participation and a live webinar on February 12th.

A group of youth with different disabilities laugh and smile while posing together

Total time required: 8-10 hours (estimate) over 8 business days, in addition to time to read the Working Well manual.

Cost: $130 per person. Cost includes a manual in your preferred format.

Registration deadline: January 20.

How to register: Complete the brief form Working Well February 2020 Training Pre-Registration

After initial registration, you will receive an email containing a training schedule, a training overview, and the link with instructions to finalize your registration and payment.

Once you’ve registered, you should also have your agency review and agree to the Organizational Licensing Agreement, which is found here: Working Well Organizational Licensing Agreement


How long is the Facilitator Training? What do I have to do?

A man using a power chair works on a computer at a raised computer desk.

The Working Well facilitator training is a self-guided online training held over the course of eight business days. It includes reading and use of the facilitator manual, review of recorded videos, participation in an online discussion forum, and attendance of one live webinar.

In order to become a certified Working Well with a Disability Facilitator, each participant is responsible for the following:

  • Reading the Working Well manual
  • Viewing the pre-recorded training sessions
  • Posting responses to discussion questions and activities in the discussion forum on five training days
  • Participating in the live webinar session

Total time estimated for this training is about 8-10 hours, in addition to the time to read the Working Well manual. Each day’s video is about an hour or less, and the live webinar on Wednesday February 12 is 1.5 hours. You may set your own daily schedule for reading, viewing videos, and posting to the discussion forums.


What is Working Well with a Disability?

Working Well with a Disability is a 6-week peer-facilitated workshop that builds on the content of our successful Living Well with a Disability curriculum and considers health in the context of employment. Participants learn skills to maintain life balance, manage stress, and improve their health in support of looking for or maintaining employment.

This facilitator training will prepare individuals to host Working Well with a Disability workshops. We recommend that trainees facilitate their first consumer workshops within 3 months of receiving their facilitator’s certification. See How to Become a Working Well Program Provider for more information.


Have questions or want to know more about the facilitator training or Working Well with a Disability?

Email Krys Standley (krysti.standley@mso.umt.edu ) for more information.


Find SCI resources on the Rural Disability Resource Library

Looking for spinal cord injury resources? Check out the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center posts on the Rural Disability Resource Library, RTC:Rural’s information website. There you can find links to some fantastic resources to support individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and burn injury.

The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) works to make sure the latest and best research findings are being used in healthcare decision-making. In order to help improve the health and quality of life of people with spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and burn injuries, MSKTC creates resources and products that share relevant research findings with the people who need this information.

Continue reading

RTC:Rural researchers publish paper on health status and transitory disability

Screenshot of the first page of the journal article "Health status changes with transitory disability over time."RTC:Rural researchers Andrew Myers, Dr. Bryce Ward, Dr. Jennifer Wong, and Dr. Craig Ravesloot recently published a paper in the journal Social Science & Medicine titled “Health status changes with transitory disability over time.”  Myers is a RTC:Rural Project Director, Dr. Bryce Ward is the RTC:Rural Statistician, and Dr. Ravesloot is RTC:Rural Research Director. Dr. Wong is a former RTC:Rural Research Associate and University of Washington research fellow.

This paper builds on previous RTC:Rural research published in the Journal of Rural Health, titled “Transitory and enduring disability among urban and rural people,” and “Disability items from the Current Population Survey (2008-2015) and permanent versus temporary disability status,” published in the American Journal of Public Health. This study was a secondary analysis from a previous RTC:Rural study, which was published in 2016 in the Disability and Health Journal: “Why stay home? Temporal association of pain, fatigue and depression with being at home.”

Continue reading

Rural Institute Researchers awarded 5 year Rural Community Living Development Grant

The University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) is pleased to announce a staff team has been awarded a five-year, $981,803 Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project grant by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research within the Administration for Community Living.

The newly funded project, Rural Community Living Development (RCLD), is led by Rural Sociologist and Project Director Dr. Rayna Sage, and Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Clinical Psychologist and Research Director for the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural).

A group of people in a community park enjoying a picnic. Two of the people are using powerchairs.

The purpose of the Rural Community Living Development project is to provide space and facilitate conversations among community members to help them connect to resources and information they might not otherwise have access to.

Using a combination of independent living philosophy, peer mentoring and community development approaches, research staff will work with Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to take collective action that leads to positive change for and with people with disabilities living in rural areas.

Continue reading

RTC:Rural travels to Grand Rapids for 25th annual APRIL conference

25th Annual APRIL National Conference on Rural Independent Living. 1995-2019. The Power of Rural.

RTC:Rural heads to Grand Rapids, Michigan this week for the 25th annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference. The conference will be October 25 – 28, and the theme is “The Power of Rural.” 

Harnessing the theme of this year’s conference, Project Directors Dr. Rayna Sage and Lillie Greiman, Director of Knowledge Translation Tracy Boehm Barrett, and Research Advisor Dr. Craig Ravesloot will give a presentation titled, “Using Rural IL Power to Address the Needs of People with Disabilities Living in Poverty.” In their presentation, they will discuss how poverty affects Independent Living (IL), rural resources that Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can leverage to help address poverty, and how community development strategies can address poverty among people with disabilities living in their community. Dr. Sage will also briefly describe a number of new opportunities for CILs to get involved in RTC:Rural’s research and rural community development projects to address local issues that affect IL services.

Continue reading

RTC:Rural celebrates Disability Employment Month

The right talent, right now. National Disability Employment Awareness Month. #NDEAM. dol.gov/odep

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! RTC:Rural joins with many others to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities. We are pleased to highlight the work being done to support people with disabilities in rural communities as they work towards achieving their employment goals.

Barriers to Rural Employment

A man using a wheelchair working at a grocery store.

For people with disabilities who live in rural areas, job opportunities are limited. There are physical barriers, such as inaccessible buildings and no accessible transportation, and also attitudinal barriers, such as negative stereotypes and discrimination. These barriers often keep people with disabilities from participating how they want in work, school, and community life. These barriers also contribute to increased social and economic inequality between people with and without disabilities.

Benefits of Employment

Employment has obvious economic benefits, but it also is important because it helps people participate in their communities and increases their overall well-being. Research shows that people with disabilities who are employed report that they participate more in their communities. They also feel more socially connected to other people.

For more on RTC:Rural’s recent research in this topic area, see “RTC:Rural researchers publish paper on rural/urban differences in social connectedness and perceived isolation for people with disabilities.”

Continue reading

Visualizing disability data through maps: RTC:Rural’s state map series

Image of the people with disabilities: Alabama map on top of a background of other maps of Alabama showing different disability data.
Click on the image to view disability maps for the state of Alabama.

RTC:Rural’s Disability in America State Profile Map Series is well underway! We have maps for 17 states posted on the website so far, and more are coming soon. In the next two months general disability maps for every state (for example, Montana and Texas) and Puerto Rico will be complete and available on the RTC:Rural website. Once the general disability rate maps are completed, we will work to produce maps showing different topics for each state. These include:

  • Disability rates among females and males
  • People with vision, cognitive, mobility, self-care, and Independent Living difficulties
  • Veterans with disabilities
  • People with disabilities in poverty
  • Employment, unemployment, and out of labor force rates among people with disabilities
Continue reading

RTC:Rural researchers publish paper on rural/urban differences in social connectedness and perceived isolation for people with disabilities

Dr. Meredith Repke, RTC:Rural Research Associate, and Dr. Catherine Ipsen, RTC:Rural Director, recently published a paper in the Disability and Health Journal titled “Differences in social connectedness and perceived isolation among rural and urban adults with disabilities.”

Screenshot of the first page of journal article titled "Differences in social connectedness and perceived isolation among rural and urban adults with disabilities"

In the paper, Repke and Ipsen analyze survey data from the nation-wide Health Reform and Disability Survey to explore how a number of factors are related to social participation and perceived isolation for people with disabilities, and to see if there are differences for those who live in rural vs urban areas. These factors include number of disabilities, self-rated health, employment status, and living arrangements (alone or with others).

Previous studies have compared social isolation to smoking in terms of risk to public health. Some groups of people have a much higher risk of social isolation, including people with disabilities and rural residents. This research builds on previous work by considering how the potentially compounding effects of disability status and living in a rural area may affect social participation and perceived isolation.  

Continue reading

RTC:Rural fact sheet explores insurance coverage rates before and after ACA and Medicaid expansion

Screenshot of the first page of the ACA and Medicaid Expansion Associated with Increased Insurance Coverage for Rural Americans with Disabilities fact sheet.

The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and adoption of Medicaid expansion was associated with substantial increases in insurance coverage across the United States (see Changes in coverage and access, MACPAC 2019). However, RTC:Rural researchers wanted to know how ACA policy changes and Medicaid expansion impacted people with disabilities, particularly those who live in rural areas.

To explore this question, RTC:Rural researchers analyzed microdata from the 2008-2013 American Community Survey from IPUMS-USA. Using these data, they were able to compare how insurance coverage has changed over time for people with and without disabilities in rural and urban places, and in expansion and non-expansion states.

Graphic sharing stats from analysis, which are in previous paragraphs.
[text description] The number of rural people with disabilities with health insurance in expansion states increased by 10.7%. The number of rural people with disabilities with health insurance in non-expansion states increased by 5.3%. Difference = 5.4%.
Continue reading