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Rural Institute hiring student research assistant

University of Montana Rural Institute Research & Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural)Title: Student Research Assistant

Compensation: $10.00/hour for undergraduates; $12.00 for graduate students

Position Description:

Are you a student at the University of Montana who is interested in getting involved in social science research? Join our research team at the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities! The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) is committed to creating better lives for rural people with disabilities and their families. With innovative services, training and research, RIIC strives to improve independence and participation of people with disabilities in everyday activities and all aspects of the community.

The Research Assistant will work under the supervision of the Project Director to design, plan, and implement research projects and products. Tasks may include: preparing and mailing research and training materials; data entry with a PC using Microsoft Excel; using search terms to find, procure and organize scholarly articles; contributing to research articles and presentations; attending project meetings; collaborating with other team members to complete assigned duties.


  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Effective and efficient organizational management skills
  • Detail orientation and ability to follow specific instructions
  • Ability to take initiative and perform assigned job responsibilities independently
  • Experience with computer software programs such as Microsoft Office
  • Bachelor’s degree or course work in Psychology, Physical/Occupational Therapy, Social Sciences, Social Work, Nursing, or other related field that prepares students for working on a research team

Job Details:

  • Part-time Student position on the University of Montana Campus
  • You must be enrolled as a student at the University of Montana
  • Non-Work Study or Work-study
  • Undergraduate or graduate students are eligible
  • Begin Fall 2018
  • Hours per week vary according to need and student schedule; typically 5-10 hours per week
  • Schedule: Flexible

To Apply:

Please email Lillie Greiman with a brief description of why you are interested in the position and a resume at or call for more information 406-243-6102.

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Transcript for VR Self-Employment Webinar 4.4.18

To view the webinar recording, please visit this link:
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Tracy Boehm Barrett

So, with that, let me begin by introducing our speaker today. Dr. Catherine Ipsen is the Associate Director of The Rural Institute for Inclusive communities and is also the director of role employment, research for the Research and Training Center here at the University of Montana. She holds a PHD in multi-disciplinary studies and a economics, both from the University of Montana.

She has over 20 years of experience and disability research and evaluation with funding through the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, also known as NIDILRR, the Centers for Disease Control and US Department of Education. Her research interests focus on service delivery strategies to support rural consumers and in securing and maintaining employment with that, I want to please welcome Catherine.

Catherine Ipsen

Good morning everyone and thank you for such a nice introduction. Tracy, I wasn’t expecting that. But I want to extend my thanks to Kathy West Evans at CSAVR for supporting this webinar. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work with Kathy over the years and our self-employment initiatives are some of the fruits of that collaboration. So I’m really excited to be able to highlight the VR self-employment guide so… Apparently I’m already having a little bit of trouble with the technology. So you’re going to see me do some crazy things. And we’ll try it again.


Catherine Ipsen

Apparently, that’ll work. I’m hoping. So today I’m going to talk about a resource that we have developed called the VR self-employment guide. It’s a resource for both clients and counselors, it has some multi-faceted aspects. It’s a outcome of some research that we have done with the Utah State Office of rehabilitation to help streamline their self-employment process and without that kind of spring on and looking critically at their process and what they needed for their counselors and consumers, I don’t think that this would have been realized. So I want to highlight the great collaboration. I’ve had with Mark Margo Dana at Utah State Office of rehab. So before I start touring the guide. I want to do just a brief background on self-employment and for the US population, the self-employment rate is about 9.4% among the working population and for people with disabilities. That’s actually higher. It’s about 11.4% in the US.

And surprisingly, in that context VR self-employment closures are quite a bit lower at 2% of all successful status 26 closures. So while VR is in the in the process or in the work of getting people employed, they’re not getting employed at the same kind of composition as you might see in the general population.

An interesting thing about VR self-employment outcomes, however, is that the rates go up very significantly, the more rural the cases become and that’s why as a rural center we are particularly interested in self-employment and its ability to be a good outcome for people who might be living outside of urban areas and may not have as many employment options available to them.

I also want to highlight that in some research that we’ve done the VR agencies that are dedicated to serving blind and low vision clients have above average closures to self-employment relative to combined in general agencies. So there are definitely some opportunities to use self-employment in rural areas, but also to capitalize on self-employment as an option for people who might have some more limited options in the competitive job market.

So we have done a fair amount of research looking at the our self-employment closures. One of the things that we’ve looked at is counselor unpreparedness to assist consumers with self-employment exploration Counselors have told us they they’re not trained in business startup. They don’t have resources available to them to support business development kinds of activities, there’s some confusion about the process and that is one thing that we hope to address with some of our resources.

There are also some counselor concerns regarding self-employment that outcomes will not result in viable employment placements and we’ve done some pretty extensive analysis of VR case records and found that actually self-employed clients earned comparable wages to those in competitive employment and as part of that. They earned significantly higher wages and work significantly fewer hours. So while they had comparable benefits they actually didn’t have to work quite as many hours to get those there’s also been some research in terms of case costs and some concerns that case costs regarding self-employment will be higher. And that actually was born out in the data that the costs of purchase services were significant significantly higher across all geographies related to supporting self-employment. So I just want full disclosure on that.

Ok, so today I’m really going to go through just give you a tour of the VR self-employment guide it really is meant as a way to provide materials that can be used in the process that can be used to support training. For counselors, it can be used as a stopping place for other agencies to see how the VR processes unfolding and we’ve really kept it open so that all the different people that might be involved with a particular clients case can access the same material.

Before I get into showing you all the examples I want to highlight once again the pretty significant partners that helped develop this including Margo Dana, who I highlighted earlier. Dr. Nancy Arnold who is my predecessor and has done a great deal of self-employment, research before me and I continue to draw on her experience. Jennifer Stevens who works at the Small Business Development Center in Missoula has reviewed all the materials to make sure that we said things in a way that aligned with what she teaches clients. The University of Montana School of extended and lifelong learning and media arts really helped with the design and accessibility of the site and then we have interviewed several business owners with disabilities that are highlighted throughout the website.

So I am going to head to the website right now. So it’s a little little tricky. I’m hoping, everything’s going and here we are the VR website is VR self-employment org or self-employment dot org.

So to get started, I just want to highlight that the website is organized into eight chapters and you can access those chapters up here in the corner or by these icons for each chapter.

Chapter one is really focused on understanding how the self-employment process might unfold during the VR process. Chapter two focuses on motivations for becoming self-employed that you and the consumer might go through and consider. Chapter three is really a preliminary evaluation of the business idea to see if it really warrants going on to full business plan development and then the remaining chapters four through seven are dedicated to addressing each aspect in quite a bit of detail about developing a business plan. Finally, Chapter eight is a place that we can store a lot of external resources, things that weren’t developed specifically by us but are good resources to have in the field. So I’m going to go into chapter one and start kind of highlighting different aspects of the site.

So the first thing that I’d like you to do. And I’m going to show you two videos, they’re both pretty short. I’m going to talk about one here now and then one later in the presentation, but I would like you to meet our business owners. So here we go.

Meet the Business Owners Video Transcript

My name is Ed Worrell. I am one of the co-founders of OverHere Consulting. I am completely blind, visually impaired and I actually deal with a lot of the assistive technology with speech and audio feedback.

My name is Travis Stephenson I’m the other co-founder of OverHear Consulting I do low vision technology. We’ve got a wide variety of customers we actually deal with state run agencies, federal agencies and even individual clients that are visually impaired in the state of Montana for variety of customers range from as young as elementary all the way up to in their 90s. So it could be a wide range of individuals that are dealing with visual impairments. Will you primarily work on teaching computer technology and working with people on mostly communication technology like smartphones, tablets, computers, so that they can stay in contact with family, friends,

My name is Melissa LaFontaine and I’m the owner of Earth Within Flowers. I am an earth inspired floral design business that sources flowers from a local and regional farmers and I also offer education on floral design as well as the cultural and medicinal uses flowers. I started primarily as a floral designer who offered flowers for wedding and event and then I transitioned into the educational aspect because I am really passionate about the slow flower movement and countering the mainstream flower industry.

What led me to become self employed as I’m treating ended various offices was very difficult for me. Also, there’s a lot of self-employment in my own immediate family. Alex Babat, AV technology solutions PC services networking and computer repair.

I started my business, three years ago of just the idea that when I was a kid, I used to see the tropical storm hot over by shock co here in Missoula, and the My family would always go to it and then all the sudden when someone we went there and it’s gone. And I thought to myself, man. There’s not a lot of overhead that goes into making snow cones. It’s sugar water and ice styrofoam cups. Everything’s throw away a boy, you don’t have to wash much. It’s just a very, very small overhead. My name is Kolter Beneitone and I own Montana Tropical Snow franchise. It is a snow cone business here in Missoula, Montana.

Hi I’m Josh Hughes, co founder and president of Add-A-Tudez Entertainment Company, Team Kaizen Games, and Ingenium. Hi, I’m Trevor Hughes, co founder and vice president of Add-A-Tudez Entertainment Company, Team Kaizen Games, and Ingenium. Well, but ideas or serve as as kind of came around, because first of all, when I was in high school, I had a friend that was in Canada that design games and he lent me on his team to work remotely and he taught me how to write for video games and how to generally run a team. So I kind of knew that. That’s the area I wanted to go in. It’s a an art form that’s constantly evolving every single year there’s new technology every five years there’s new hardware. So there’s something that you constantly are dealing with having a changing and evolving landscape, which is kind of with any business. But the big thing is we’re wanting to go with games that we would play and hoping that other people want to play too,

My name is Elizabeth Daughton. Where I live is northwest Montana my business is Believe In ME photography because I have a knack for it. I take spectacular pictures. We are making them into greeting cards. A piece of advice is to have confidence in yourself and pride in my heart. Stick to goals and work hard towards them.

Catherine Ipsen

So that was an overview of the business owners in Montana that we interviewed for our website and as part of those interviews we have not only overview videos and a good number of the chapters, but also audio snippets of things that they shared with us that highlight aspects of the material that we hope to kind of bring to bear in actual experiences.

So to get started on the navigation. The first thing that I want to highlight is this top ribbon. It has things that you might expect if you do a lot of web site kind of roaming around. It has a home button. It has an about us button. One thing to highlight here is the website navigation, we talk about how to get around in the site pretty explicitly should people be navigating it with a visual impairment and and those sorts of things we talked about how its organized. We also have some accessibility recommendations I want to highlight that this website is best viewed in Chrome or Safari. There are some other web platforms that work. Windows Explorer is not a good web browser for this particular interface.

We have a number of materials that are highlighted in each chapter. And we wanted people to be able to access those materials more quickly, rather than going back and forth into chapters, particularly as they come back to the website and want to use it in a more streamlined way. So all of the materials that are presented here and that’s in that top ribbon button are organized by chapter. So these are little tabs and and much of the website is organized in these tabs. But for instance chapter one materials we have print only versions of every single chapter of the website content in that chapter. We also have a high glossary that includes a number of business terms, these are things that people may want to download for future reference or to use to highlight to follow along with material, etc. And so we have the same kinds of things in each chapter. Once again, we have a print only version. And then some worksheets that are highlighted in the chapter. So this is a quick way to get materials that are associated with different chapter material. And then we also have some additional materials that individuals can access that actually follow along with some of the material, but if they want to get an idea of what’s an appropriate answer or, you know, I don’t know where to start. Here’s some examples that people can reference. That is materials.

We also have a section with our business owners, an opportunity to get to know them a little bit better. And so we’ve highlighted each of the business owners on this about your business owner section that if if people are interested in learning about them. And then finally, we have a chapters button on the top thing that is for easy navigation two different aspects of the page.

So I’m going to go back to the homepage and then begin to show you some of the different aspects of each chapter and how its laid out.

So each chapter has a chapter title and then it’s followed by two focus areas focus area. One is the content. The main content of that chapter. So in this chapter, introducing self-employment readiness. There is things about exploring the myths of self-employment and some of the realities. Business owner traits that you might want to think about readiness self-assessment and a chapter of view. So that would be the content for chapter to self-employment readiness.

There’s also a second focus area in each chapter. That is an opportunity to check understanding these are many quizzes or tests or discussion opportunities that people can access either themselves as they think critically about the material or as a way a training opportunity to have discussions over some of the content and each of these is available for each chapter, with the exception of the first chapter, and that’s actually why I started in chapter two.

Then finally, at the very bottom, we have some chapter navigation at the bottom as well where people can go to the next chapter, the previous chapter, so there’s many ways to move around the website. You can either go to the bottom and kind of follow through linearly. If you want to access a specific chapter, you can go up here or you can go to the home button and click on the picture icons of the different chapters.

So I wanted to highlight, then some of the content organization in within each chapter. So each chapter begins with an introduction. And the introduction is just a little overview of what you’ll be seen but also in the introduction is a place that people can download all the materials that are included in the chapter that people might want to complete as part of that chapter, and it’s a way if you were sitting, perhaps in a counseling meeting and you wanted to say, hey, I’d like you to fill out this rate your entrepreneurial potential worksheet or self-reflection worksheet. You can quickly get these and download them.

So to give you an idea, you know, you would just click and then you can download up here. The other thing that I want to show about this is that many of these forms are fallible, and they do some of the math or calculating for individuals. So let’s say I’m person and I want to rate my personal characteristics and this is just kind of a fun way to to think at least do some self-reflection going in. And you might say, Okay, yeah, I’m, I’m a leader. I like to make my own decisions. Well, yeah, I do. Others turn to me for making decisions. And so a person can fill these in. And I’m just going to quickly go ahead and fill these in just one example.

And if you come to the bottom of the of the sheet. There’s a place that has essentially done those averaging four of your average personal characteristic score and the average is seven. And so that’s something a gauge that people can use to assess their personal characteristics. So there’s ways to use these forms as discussion points in the process. So I’m going to close this and I’m going to go back and I’m going to visit some of the tabs now that are actually moving towards the content and much of the content is built into slide shows so this section is about the myths and realities of self-employment. And if I click on this button. It takes me to a slide show that has nine slides each slide has a essentially a bar at the bottom to show you where you are. So this is about your vocational goal and myth and reality about business startup required skills so you can find slides if you want to. And then within many of these myths and realities we actually have also done some audio sorts of links for people to be able to access. Oops, I’m going to go back into that I must have hit a button.

So if I go to myths and realities and look at vocational goal. I’m gonna play a short audio clip of one minute audio clip, I think what led me to be self-employed as I was working with vocational rehabilitation blind and low vision services.

Audio Clip Transcript

And they started having me go through job experiences and basically they were trying to put me into these jobs were like one example I wanted, I wanted to work in radio because while I figured, Hey, I know a lot about music, but really and truly they wanted me to press a button to start commercials between live sporting events. That’s it. They wouldn’t let me do anything else would do anything with a computer or anything like that. And I had the skills and know how to do it. And I kept running into the same problem is they didn’t want somebody that was visually impaired to be that involved with with the company or different things that we kind of ran into a roadblock because of the old stigma of he’s visually impaired. He can’t do it kept running into the way of actually being employed. So I started looking at self-employment and started talking with blind and low vision services in Great Falls and they put me down the path of self-employment.

Catherine Ipsen

So for instance, the myth is self-employment is my vocational goal and what we were learning from Ed was his goal was to get into radio and do some technical kinds of things. And so self-employment became a strategy for him to meet that vocational goal. So these sorts of things. These myths and realities are ways to really discuss with the client. Some of the motivations for becoming self-employed and what how they might be thinking of it might need to shift a little bit. So these are just some examples of ways that we’ve tried to bring the content home.

Within sections little sub sections every once in a while we’ll have a little quiz yourself section. It’s just a way for us to make the information more interactive and make people think a little more critically about what they’ve heard or read or listen to.

One thing I want to highlight is throughout this website. It’s super interactive. So whichever section, you’re in really has either exercises or things that individuals can do, whether it be a counselor learning the material or a client going through it with the guidance of a counselor or individually. So in this one, business owner traits, we’re looking at an entrepreneurial potential. And there are a number of self-assessments highlighted in this slideshow. And there’s ways to access these slide shows. And for instance, okay. I really want to go see do a self-assessment. And so I can click on this and it will take me to an external website that allows me to start a statement self-assessment questionnaire to see how you might stack up. There’s also a number of internal worksheets that we’ve created and are accessible and downloadable so people can go rate their entrepreneurial I already showed you that one but their entrepreneurial potential or they can do a self-reflection worksheet. These are all fixable. But that’s the kind of thing that a counselor could potentially ask someone to fill out and come back with to discuss. I’m catching up myself.

Okay. The other thing that I want to highlight is the chapter review every single chapter has a chapter review and every single chapter has two buttons in the chapter review one is really geared towards the consumer who might be using these materials. And these prepare buttons are things that if they’re going through the chapter independently or want to you want to use the chapter as a way for them to kind of consider things between meetings they can click on this prepare button and have some to do steps before they meet with a counselor at the next medium, for instance. So in this chapter you evaluated your entrepreneurial potential. Write down why you think self-employment may or may not be a good fit for you at this time right down the skills you need to work on as part of your IP IP, so it’s just some to do steps. Likewise, the counselor review really cues counselors into things that they may have to think about when they’re reviewing a consumers potential to be self employed. So thinking about traits. Or fit to self-employment. It’s a bunch of questions or prompts that they can consider as they’re thinking critically about the case.


Then I’m gonna just give you a quick view of the check your understanding. I talked about these are kind of quizzes ability to go through the material and think critically about it. And one thing that’s nice about it. First of all, for instance, this is a scenario of a client that may come into the VR office and have some specific characteristics and then you as a counselor or you as a counselor and a consumer can go through these and really talked critically about why self-employment may or may not be a good fit. And one thing that is kind of, I think, fun for these is that it really can provide discussion points that are more objective and really aren’t.

The client may feel really strongly about self-employment and if they can be more objective with these scenarios that gives them an opportunity then to perhaps understand reasoning should self-employment not be an option that is supported through VR. It’s also a good way to discuss scenarios amongst yourselves on whether you would support or wouldn’t support a particular self-employment plans. So that’s kind of a teaching element that it can be used for.

So now that I’ve gone through kind of the many aspects of what the website is organized like I’m just going to do a quick Overview about the different chapters and this is going to be pretty brief, given the time constraints that we have before us.

So, chapter one, the self-employment overview. This is perhaps the chapter that is going to be the most problematic, I guess. Working across different VR agencies because not every VR agency is going to organize their self-employment process, the same way, support the same kind of businesses. For instance we highlighted a business that was a franchise business that was supported by a VR agency in Montana, but many VR programs will not support a franchise business. So this is a place where a counselor and a consumer really need to talk critically About how the self-employment process unfold in your particular agency. And one thing that we have thought about doing is developing a checklist about for instance limits and VR agencies, sometimes won’t support partly owned or controlled businesses or speculative businesses and if we created some kind of checklist. That might allow the counselor to go through and provide that information for that particular agency we haven’t gotten that far yet but that’s something that I’ve been thinking about to help with that process.

We also do some discussion about Tier one and Tier two businesses we classify Tier one businesses is low startup costs and simple to get going. Where as Tier two businesses are more complicated, require more planning, maybe more startup funds to get going. And so in some ways, this is a good discussion point to have with a consumer, if you have a consumer that’s super new to self-employment has never been self-employed before to really kind of aim for an easier startup business just to get their feet wet before they’re really having Introducing a lot of risk in terms of financial risk, etc. To start a business. So that’s one thing that we go through at the beginning. Client counselor roles. These really are generic roles. I think they’ll fit for most agencies, but you may want to as a counselor really kind of highlight how your agency may or may not agree with these so That is just an overview briefly of the introduction. And once again, this is the information that may be Something that you have to tailor to a specific agency.

So we’ve covered readiness, the readiness chapter in quite a bit of detail. This is really looking at an individual’s reading us to be entrepreneurial. It’s not whether they’re ready to start that specific business. It’s more. Are they ready to Do things in ways that are entrepreneurial or I don’t know, I can’t say anything else about.

Business feasibility. This is a chapter that is really shaped by much of the work that we did with us or and I’m really excited about it. It’s Essentially this chapter is a bit like a mini business plan everything that’s developed in this in this section can be applied later to a full on business plan, but it allows people to kind of Enter a business-planning framework in their mind, without getting into all the different complexities that are involved. And for many people that have only a tier one business idea. This could almost be enough information for the VR agency to assess whether or not to support it.

So this chapter is really organized in into three sections. One is assessing your business. One is assessing your own skills to run that business. And then the other is looking critically at startup costs and they each have interactive worksheets that are designed to help people answer these questions. So I’m going to click on the about your business worksheet and just a minute. But want to highlight that these light boxes cover or help address each of the questions in this worksheet so the basics button covers questions one to four, etc.

I also want to highlight that there is an example here of daisies daisies about your business worksheets. So we have a sample business that an individual completed this worksheet for a Floral business and you can kind of see it helps lead how people might complete the information. So this about your business worksheet is once again another downloadable filibuster PDF that really helps people start organizing Their business idea. What is the name of your business does the name described the business is the name available. Those kinds of questions. What’s, what’s the primary service you’re going to provide, how will it be run on a day to day business. So it’s getting people thinking critically about business startup.

The about you worksheet then takes okay based on all the information that you’ve talked about in the In the business feasibility thing. It’s about how did you come up with this idea. What is your previous experience or training that prepared you for it. So it’s these yes and are these questions that people can begin to fill in critically To get moving towards business planning and then one thing that this is kind of my favorite worksheet in the whole thing is a startup costs inventory worksheet people. All people who startup business in our business owners actually highlight this you forget costs and you don’t account for him and you don’t think about him and this worksheet is interactive, it goes through Pretty much any kind of cost that you might think of and prompts you to estimate the first two months of costs and it its interactive in the way that I can say, okay, I need a desk, and I’m going to get it from Home Depot and I only need one and It’s $150 that will calculate for me. It will add let’s say I get two chairs at $50 it will really allow someone who maybe has more trouble doing math and calculations to utilize this worksheet. It adds it here and then you go on to the next kinds of costs. It talks about rent, utility and at the very end. It will add those those items and these can then be taken and added into the financial plan should they go to a full on business plan. So I just wanted to highlight some of the kind of fun interactive stuff that’s available.

I’m going to quickly go through chapters four through seven. These really lay out how to develop a business plan from start to finish. We’ve created a business plan outline that actually follows the content of chapters four through seven. I’ll just show you that. We have made it into a Word document. This is something that people can download and then begin to fill in. If they decide to really pursue self-employment and they have to do a business plan.

So it’s, it goes through the whole content and tells where you can find information about each section. So it tells you know highlights in terms of which chapter to access to answer all these different things. So it’s a good place to start. Try to close that. Okay.

Then The marketing plan is one thing that we covered in the marketing plan that’s a little bit interesting is we really help people understand how to do Some of the work that we’re, we’re talking about. So, market research. People oftentimes don’t know what that means or what is entailed or strategies to do it. So we’ve talked about, you know, how do you run an interview and focus group. How do you develop a survey. Those types of things. What is, what are different marketing strategies. What’s customer outreach. What is a customer segmentation, those kinds of things. So we go through that and the marketing plan.

Going up to here operations plan really talks about all the aspects of running a business where is it going to be what are all the requirements legal requirements, those kinds of things. What are all the inputs that go into making The product or service. How are you doing it. Are you hiring people. How are you managing things and it all of these different tabs have specific information that help you really delve into the process and think critically about how to move forward. The final chapter on that is the financial plan. And this is a really

Financial Planning is complicated and it may not be something that individuals will do themselves. They might have the help of a bookkeeper or accountant, but this is provide step by step directions on how to do a break even analysis, how to do a sales forecast how to look at cash flow and and the importance of Making sure that not only you make profit over the year, but that you have enough money each month. To pay bills which can really depend on if you have a seasonal business, you need to make enough in December to cover, you know, maybe, April, May and June, that kind of thing. So We’ve done a pretty comprehensive job of trying to break that down for people who may not have much experience do doing financial planning.

And then finally, in this last chapter in the review, we really try to bring with the counselor review some closure to the website and the process that they may have been going through with a consumer. So once the business plan is complete, who is going to review it. How are you going to evaluate it in terms of VR and other potential funders really thinking critically about the process. So the final thing that I’m going to show you. We’re almost done, and kind of ready for questions. I didn’t leave too much time, but hopefully we’ll Be able to get to a couple is the resources.

We’ve included all the resources that are highlighted in particular chapters and these are when we say resources. These are things that are external to the website. The materials are internal to the website, the resources are external things that other people may have resources that can help through the process. And then we also have additional resources such as Things links to the Small Business Administration or job accommodation network or do so disabled. Business persons association. So different links that people can use to get additional information and we’ve organized. These by business development resources funding resources. Veterans resources and tribal and minority resources. So I think that concludes my website demonstration and I’m going to close out of here, although I’m happy to to get back in here.

But we’ll open it up for questions.


Tracy Boehm Barrett

So at this time, yes, We yes we are opening it up to questions. I didn’t see any come through yet through the text chat box. But if you do have them, please feel free to type them in. Now, will give you a few seconds to do so, of course, And Catherine, did you have any questions?

Catherine Ipsen

I’m going to progress to the next slide and while people are thinking of questions. I’m gonna throw something out there.

So we now are in the process of figuring out how to review this resource and see how it’s working in the field. And I would just say to anyone who is on the call that if you are interested in using it and trying it out. We would love to get feedback because this is While the content. We’re confident is accurate and and good. We still know that there are glitches. It may be a little cumbersome in your own VR system. We want to know how to make it.

I guess more scale-able to and work for the majority of agencies and so if there’s strategies or ways that you think it can be improved, I absolutely want to have a conversation with you and so I really want to open that up to all the people on the call as an opportunity to improve something that you might find useful in your own work.

So now I’ll backup. But my contact information is here and Tracy, has it and Kathy West Evans, has it so

Tracy Boehm Barrett

There is a question that came through from Leslie Dothan. First, this is a really great resource and do counselors manage consumer referral to the web. Or can anyone access the site.

Catherine Ipsen

Anyone can access the site. It’s open at this point. I have two full disclosure, if we get grant funding for the next RTC rural Center. I will be adding a password component. Now I want everyone to know that everyone can get an password. It’s not going to be difficult at all. It’s going to be just essentially logging in, nothing on the website. Has like accessing the website, you don’t store any of your own information on it. So it’s not it’s not as if There’s any protected information there. But we want to be able to track who’s using it. And so when we do a Password to sign up, we may ask, Are you a counselor and What state are you in. Are you a consumer What state are you in or are you, neither of those. So we just want to be able to More accurately track it as part of our research and understanding how it’s working. So that would be the only change. And that would not happen until September.

Tracy Boehm Barrett

Great, thank you. And there is a statement from the Missoula voc rehab office, stating that they are maybe interested in testing the site. And just so you catch that. And a question. Can you share with the group your link to model policies for VR agency? that’s from Kathy West Evans.

Catherine Ipsen

I am happy to share that link. When I find it.

Tracy Boehm Barrett

We can also send that out in the follow up email to. Yeah, that would be great. So we can certainly do that. And then another question is are there any resources, particularly useful regarding BP blind enterprise program related to the Randolph shepherd act.

Catherine Ipsen

Not that I know are there might be, but not they are not represented on the website that I know of and could definitely be added if if there’s a particular resource that someone’s thinking about could be added to the resource section.

Tracy Boehm Barrett

Are there any other questions regarding the website itself or questions for Catherine, I will give a little bit of a wrap up to everyone to know what to expect next but before I do that, just another chance to ask a final question before we have to go.

Okay, seeing none, I just wanted to thank everyone who joined us today, we will send out a very brief survey asking for your feedback and we thank you in advance for completing it and sending it back. With that survey also if you’d like to stay connected and updated to more of our work. You may follow us on Facebook and Twitter and also by Receiving our E newsletter. If you haven’t signed up for that already and information about how to connect with us in those ways will be included in a follow up email to all of you who have participated today, there will be a link to this presentation that will be archived on our website.

As well as the resource that Kathy West Evans asked about About the model policies for VR agencies and also our colleague Lauren also Put that resource in the text chat box as well, but will send that out. With the email to everybody. And yes, we can definitely add folks to email distribution and we’ll get that out to you.

Thanks for that note in the text chat and with that I think we can wrap it up. It is new and we thank you for all of your time and participation and Catherine, did you have any final word for everybody.

Catherine Ipsen

No, but thank you for your interest and I’m super excited to have this resource used and critique and just hope that it’s useful.

Tracy Boehm Barrett

Great. Alright, thanks everyone will be signing off. Thank you. Have a great day. Thank you.


Students Exchange Knowledge in Curriculum Development Process

Healthy Community Living logoRTC:Rural has a long history of engaging and mentoring students, and after graduation many of these students continue in research. No matter what career path they follow, our students take with them knowledge of the disability research field and awareness of disability issues, perspectives that are valuable for all fields of study.

Most recently, ten University of Montana students have been involved in the Healthy Community Living (HCL) project, creating an online multimedia curriculum that will help people with disabilities gain life skills and learn how to set and reach healthy life goals. These students come from a wide range of disciplines, including the School of Media Arts, psychology, community health sciences, and law. Continue reading

The State of Disability in Rural America

General Disability RatesRural areas dominate the American landscape by as much as 72%-97% of total landmass. While fewer Americans live in rural areas (approximately 15-19%) than urban areas, they make up a larger share of Americans who are unemployed, elderly, live in poverty and who have a disability. Living in rural America can place people with disabilities at a disadvantage. For example, rural residents may encounter serious barriers to accessing services such as healthcare which are typically much sparser and more expensive than in urban areas. Ideally, community services, programs, and policies use up-to-date information to determine what is needed and for whom. However, between 2000-2013 no new information about people with disabilities in rural areas was available. This knowledge gap has negatively impacted our ability to understand or track changes in the needs of people with disabilities living in rural communities.

There is an urgent need to update current knowledge about people with disabilities living in rural America. We used 2010-2014 data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to determine the distribution and demographics of people with disabilities living in rural areas. While data from the ACS puts the national disability rate at 12.4%, disability is more common in the most rural counties (17.7%) compared to the most urban (11.7%). It is true that rates of disability in rural areas may be higher due to an older population, however, rates of disability are higher in rural areas across all ages and impairment types. Clearly, rural matters. Disability is a rural issue and one that should not be ignored. Look for more information about the geography of rural disability as we explore more data from the ACS coming soon!



The State of the Science on Housing Accessibility and Community Engagement

Thank you to all who attended our State of the Science webinar symposium on housing and community engagement. Craig Ravesloot, Lillie Greiman, and Andrew Myers from the RTC:Rural and Bryce Ward from the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research shared the latest findings from three different datasets. An analysis of the American Housing Survey reveals that many people with mobility impairments live in homes that lack basic access features. photo of bathroom with grab bar in shower and next to toiletFor example, 57% of households in which someone uses mobility equipment (e.g., cane, crutch, wheelchair, scooter) have steps at their entrance and 62% lack grab bars in their bathrooms. Results from the American Time Use Survey indicate that people with mobility impairments are less likely to bathe and less likely to leave home than people without mobility impairment. As such, people with mobility impairments spend more time resting and less time engaged in activities which typically require more exertion. Data from our Health and Home Survey, which was developed with input from a team of Center for Independent Living
(CIL) advisors, suggests that bathing exertion is related to community bathroom2engagement. For example, bathing was rated as one of the most exertion-demanding activities throughout the home, and people who reported more exertion while bathing were less likely to engage in social and recreational activities. Looking to the future, we hope to explore how reducing exertion in the home may increase opportunities and choices for community engagement.

View the video archive of the symposium

View the Slide Presentation

Explore more of the community participation research

Read more about our other State of the Science Colloquia