Residents in rural areas can face many challenges and barriers to accessing services and programs, such as those offered by Centers for Independent Living (CILs). For many Centers that are located in or that serve rural communities, these barriers can mean low participation, which in turn can make it difficult to continue offering certain programs beyond core services. On the most recent Living and Working Well Facilitator Peer-to-Peer call, program facilitators discussed barriers to participation in their workshops such as fewer (or no) transportation options, competition for time, insufficient infrastructure, lack of supporting resources, and fewer outreach and recruitment opportunities. Continue reading
Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) staff, students, and community partners will be participating in a series of presentations at the University of Montana as part of the School of Public & Community Health Sciences seminar program for students, staff and faculty. The 16 week graduate seminar is part of UM’s Public Health doctoral program aimed to educate and equip students with the skills and expertise to improve public health at the community level and around the world. Continue reading
The need for accessible housing far exceeds the availability. While there are disability advocacy groups working to make changes in housing policies at the national level, those changes don’t happen overnight. In the next few decades, the need for affordable, accessible housing is only going to increase as the American population ages. In rural areas, where people are already more likely to be unemployed, living in poverty, elderly, and have a disability, this housing need will be especially severe.
“People can’t always move into accessible, affordable housing, or at least not right away,” says Lillie Greiman, RTC:Rural Research Associate. “So we’re asking, ‘What can we do to help those people right now?’”
To address immediate housing issues for people with disabilities, RTC:Rural researchers are working with partners at the University of Kansas on the Home Usability Program. The Home Usability Program helps people with disabilities to assess usability issues with their homes, and connects them with the resources they need to make changes.
The Home Usability Program is part of the Research and Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living (RTC/PICL), a collaboration between researchers at the University of Kanas and the University of Montana. Dr. Craig Ravesloot, RTC:Rural director, co-directs the center with Dr. Glen White at the University of Kansas. Greiman is the Project Director of the Home Usability Program.
Currently, researchers are in the first phase of the Home Usability Program, says Greiman. The program is partnering with two Centers for Independent Living, one in Montana and one in Kansas, to work with individuals to make usability improvements to their homes. Participants must be over 21, have a physical disability, and live in the community.
First, the team works with the individual to identify usability issues within their homes. Then, the researchers work with the local CILs to develop a network of local resources that can help address those issues. The focus of the program is to identify smaller-scale improvements that can be made quickly and relatively inexpensively—for example, installing new faucet handles on the sink for easier use, or grab bars in the bathtub.
Ultimately, the Home Usability Program will consist of two parts: a screening tool for people with disabilities to use to identify usability issues in their homes, which includes recommendations on how to solve some common issues; and a guide for CILs to develop their own networks of local resources to help consumers make these usability changes.
“The Home Usability Program is about giving you control over your home environment, making it easier and safer to use your home,” said Greiman. “If people have usable homes, they can live independently and participate in their communities.”
To learn more about the RTC/PICL and the Home Usability Program, check out:
Healthy Community Living (HCL), RTC:Rural’s multi-media health promotion program to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities, is excited to be moving into the piloting phase of curriculum development.
RTC:Rural researchers work closely with experienced CIL staff, peer experts in independent living philosophy, and staff from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to develop, test, and refine the HCL curriculums. To learn more about the role of the Development Team and the Participatory Curriculum Development process we used to create the HCL curricula, check out “Consumer interviews add to Participatory Curriculum Development project.”
We want to acknowledge the tremendous work and collaboration of our Development Team:
- Pamala Mondragon and Jamie Hardt from Independence, Inc. in Minot, North Dakota
- Rich Skerbitz and Liz Amys from North Country Independent Living in Superior, Wisconsin
- Dustin Gibson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Brittany Hepler from the Dale McIntosh Center in Anaheim, California
- Kimberly Heymann from Alliance of People with disAbilities in Seattle, Washington
- Ken Mitchell, Kim Gibson, and William Daniels from disAbility Link in Tucker, Georgia
- Dori Tempio from Able South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina
- Sharon Washington and Christine Cook from Blue Water Center for Independent Living in Port Huron, Michigan
Thank you Development Team, it’s been wonderful to work with you all and we so appreciate all of your time and energy devoted to HCL.