Tag Archives: University of Montana

UM undergrad wins Best Presentation Award for research with RTC:Rural director on loneliness and aging

Over the past semester, RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine Ipsen worked with University of Montana (UM) undergraduate Nelson Weaver on his senior capstone project about the effects of loneliness on the aging population. Weaver’s poster presentation won a best presentation award at UM’s Conference of Undergraduate Research. He graduated in May 2018 with a major in psychology and a minor in communication studies.

Nelson Weaver holds his award and stands next to Catherine Ipsen.
Nelson Weaver (left) and Catherine Ipsen (right).

Weaver contacted Ipsen about his interest in psychology and well-being of those experiencing mental and physical impairments and asked about possible capstone research opportunities. “This inquiry came at the perfect time,” said Ipsen. “I was juggling lots of projects, but wanted to make headway on a grant proposal idea focused on aging and health impacts of loneliness. Nelson was the perfect fit.”

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New Book Chapter Looks at How Rural Culture, Inclusion, and Community Events Impact People with Disabilities

Quote from 'Disability and Rural Events'- "Having moments to recognize others and to be recognized as a community resource helps keep people with disabilities visible and engaged."

Dr. Rayna Sage, RTC:Rural Project Director, and Erin Flores, a former sociology undergraduate researcher at the University of Montana who graduated in 2018, recently co-authored a book chapter on the accessibility of rural community events. The chapter, titled “Disability and rural events: The cultural reproduction of inclusion and exclusion” is in Marginalisation and Events, which was published in January 2019 by Routledge.

“Rural community events are a time when community members are able to see how they are part of something bigger than their own individual experience,” said Sage. “Seeing friends and family and participating in activities that promote community identity helps sustain community and connectedness.”

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Researchers and project partners share perspectives on disability and the environment

Kelly, Troutman, Greiman, and Myers sit in the front of a room presenting. There is a slide projected above their heads with a map of disability rates across the U.S. Greiman speaks into a microphone.

From left to right, Bonnie Kelly, Bronwyn Troutman, Lillie Greiman, and Andrew Myers presenting as part of DiverseU 2018.

Rural Institute researchers and RTC:Rural project directors Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers, along with community partners Bronwyn Troutman, Community Living Specialist, and Bonnie Kelly, Peer Advocate, from Summit Independent Living Center in Missoula co-presented a panel at the University of Montana as part of the DiverseU symposium. Their presentation was titled “Disability and the Socio-Political Environment.”

DiverseU is the University of Montana’s annual campus-wide diversity symposium. It is open to university students, staff, and community members, and features presentations, art exhibits, and guided discussions over the course of two days. DiverseU seeks to, “…explore the complexities of human experience, promote understanding, and create community through the practice of civil discourse,” according to the DiverseU website page. Continue reading

Restricted Federal Data holds value for Rural Research

Headshot of Dr. Benjamin Cerf.

Photo from Dr. Cerf’s profile on www.census.gov.

On October 17, Dr. Benjamin Cerf, a Census Bureau research economist and the administrator of the Northwest Federal Statistical Research Data Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, presented information on accessing restricted federal data to University of Montana researchers. Thirty-six UM researchers and staff attended the two sessions, which were part of the University of Montana Faculty Professional Development Series hosted by the Faculty Development Office.

Following an invitation from Dr. Christiane von Reichert, a professor of Geography at UM, Dr. Cerf gave presentations on restricted business, demographic, and health data that can only be viewed at Federal Statistical Research Data Centers (RDCs) located in 29 locations throughout the country. Dr. von Reichert is an RTC:Rural research partner who is working with Dr. Cerf on a proposal to access restricted census data so she can further her research on disability at the household level. Continue reading

Rural Institute shares knowledge on disability as part of UM public health graduate seminar

University of Montana School of public & Community health sciences logo

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

RTC:Rural sponsors workshops on restricted-access federal data

RTC:Rural, along with the University of Montana (UM) Department of Geography and the UM Faculty Development Office, is pleased to sponsor a workshop series for the UM research community on accessing restricted federal statistical research data. Funding has been provided by the Office of the Vice-President for Research and Creative Scholarship. Dr. Ben Cerf, a Census Bureau research economist and the administrator of the Northwest Federal Statistical Research Data Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, will present the workshops. The workshops will be held on October 17, 2018, at the University of Montana.

headshot of Dr. von Reichert. She is an older woman with short, gray/brown hair, wearing a pink striped shirt. She is standing outside, and there is a view overlooking a city and ocean behind her.

Dr. Christiane von Reichert.

Dr. Christiane von Reichert, professor of Geography at UM and an RTC:Rural research partner, was instrumental in bringing Dr. Cerf to campus. von Reichert has been in communication with Dr. Cerf about seeking access to restricted data to examine whether or not urban-rural migration is a factor contributing to higher rural than urban disability rates.   Continue reading

Rural Institute researchers awarded 5-year grant to continue research and training

The University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a five-year, $4.3 million grant to support its Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural). The grant was awarded by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, and will be led by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, the project’s principal investigator. The award continues 30 years of RTC:Rural research and training to improve the lives of rural people with disabilities.

RTC:Rural staff photo. See caption for list of names.

RTC:Rural staff pose for a picture at UM. Front row (left to right): Tannis Hargrove, Lillie Greiman, Justice Ender. Back row (left to right): Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Andrew Myers, Lauren Smith, Maggie Lawrence, Tracy Boehm Barrett. Not pictured: Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Dr. Meg Traci, Dr. Rayna Sage, and Dr. Bryce Ward.

“The opportunity to build on our past work and continue to conduct applied research with our stakeholders from the disability community is a great honor,” said Ipsen.

RTC:Rural research will address barriers identified by rural people with disabilities in the areas of health, community living, and employment. These barriers are often related to the limited resources available in rural environments. “Our team of researchers and knowledge translation staff have put together a portfolio of projects and activities that are responsive to, and inclusive of, people with disabilities and those who serve them,” said Tracy Boehm Barrett, RTC:Rural Director of Knowledge Translation. Continue reading

“Inclusion is important, no matter what.” Graduate Seminar on Rural Disability and Health

Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a conference in May 2017.

Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a rural-focused workshop in May 2017.

In the Spring 2018 semester, RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, who is also an adjunct instructor in the Sociology department at the University of Montana (UM), taught a graduate-level seminar called “Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health.”

The main course objectives were for students to build important writing skills they can take into their academic and professional lives, primarily through learning how to conduct rapid literature reviews. This involves identifying key pieces of literature related to a specific topic, and then quickly reviewing and organizing the literature for summary. Continue reading

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

Home Usability Program works to address immediate housing needs for people with disabilities

Wheelchair user trying to maneuver within confined kitchen space.

For people with disabilities, usability issues can be both within and outside of the home.

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.

Closeup of a person's hand on a lever-style door handle

An example of an improved usability issue: replacing round door knobs with easier-to-use lever door handles. Picture from www.HealthyCommunityLiving.com.

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.”

A drawing of two cartoon houses.

The Home Usability Program works with Centers for Independent Living to help people with disabilities make improvements to their homes.

To learn more about the RTC/PICL and the Home Usability Program, check out:

Research & Training Center on Promoting Interventions for Community Living

Home Usability for People with Disabilities

Success Story: Home Usability for People with Disabilities