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    For Inclusive Communities

    Improving the skills, abilities, and quality of life of people with disabilities in rural communities, including their families and those who serve and support them.

    Read more about the Rural Institute
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    We teach how assistive technology helps people live more independently at home, school, work, and in the community.

    We conduct research to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in rural areas. Our research and training activities help improve the economic status and independence of people with disabilities.

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    We develop and evaluate innovative health promotion activities in rural areas. Our goal is to help people with physical or mental limitations learn to “live well and safely” in their own homes and communities.

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    Our Early Childhood programs offer on-going education and training to childcare providers, families, and to teachers of young children with disabilities. We help children and their families achieve greater independence at home and in the community.

    We provide Education and Interdisciplinary Training across the human service and education systems in Montana.

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Promoting the quality of life for people with disabilities in rural communities

UM 72 2Since 1978, the University of Montana Rural Institute has worked to improve the skills, abilities, and quality of life of people with disabilities in rural communities, including their families and those who serve and support them.

For Inclusive Communities

Rural Institute initiatives focus on promoting independence, productivity, integration and community inclusion in rural and frontier communities.
Major activities include:

  1. providing training of personnel who serve and educate individuals with disabilities and their families;
  2. research and evaluation to assist people with disabilities to lead healthy, productive lives in their communities;
  3. community supports and services including training and technical assistance;
  4. dissemination of information to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families living in rural areas;
  5. and, leveraging current funding sources by developing and submitting grant and contract applications, and recovering costs associated with the delivery of services.

In all we do, we involve stakeholders as advisors so activities are consumer-responsive, family-focused, and sensitive to the cultural heritage and values of people with disabilities and their families.

RTC: Rural - Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living-Annual Conference

2015 April ConferenceThe Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) is holding its annual conference in Virginia Beach October 16th-19th.  The theme of this year’s conference is “Virginia is for Advocates: Starting a New Revolution at the Beach,” and the focus is on independent living, advocacy and transition services.  Attendees come to the conference from Centers for Independent Living (CIL) across the country and include executive directors, advocates, direct services staff, peers and youth.  During the Friday pre-conference, youth will have a day devoted to learning about the ADA, disability history and creating real change in their communities.  At the general conference sessions, participants will have the opportunity to attend trainings designed to support their centers in service delivery and advocacy.

Read more about the conference on the RTC:Rural website:

RTC:Rural - State of the Science

On September 22nd, the RTC: Rural hosted its third State of the Science (SOS) Rural Colloquium on Environment and Participation for people with disabilities. The International Classification of Function, Disability and Health focuses on participation as a dynamic interaction between an individual and the environment. Environments that foster participation through accessibility features are less disabling to the individual with mobility or other impairments and facilitate health. In this SOS event, presenters focused on both the interior and exterior environments and the independent measures used to evaluate them.

Read more about the State of the Science conference.

Community Investment Fund Recipient Announced

The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities is pleased to announce Summit Independent Living Center (ILC) as the inaugural award recipient of the Community Investment Fund!

Summit ILC, in collaboration with BASE (a project offering a safe place to learn and display the arts and advocacy), Missoula’s Homegrown Comedy (a group of local comics), A Paper Crane (an education-through-arts organization) and the Crystal Theatre, will use the small cash award for “Missoula LIVE!!”, a ten-week communication-through-improvisation program that will culminate in a live comedy/variety show. Organizers will recruit up to 30 cast members with and without a disability. Summit ILC staff says, “By collaborating with other community organizations and including people of different ages, backgrounds and abilities in the cast and crew, as well as having a final program that is held at a public venue and promoted to the public as a whole, ‘Missoula LIVE!!’ exemplifies interdependent living not just for those participants with a disability but more importantly for the entire community.”  

Continue reading about the award

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Planning Your Transition from Pediatric to Adult Health Care Workbook

transition workbookThis publication is designed for Montanans under age 30 living with special health care needs and/or a disability. It offers information about preparing for the transition from pediatric to adult health care, choosing medical providers, paying for services, taking responsibility for one’s own health, and much more.

The revised workbook is available on the Transition and Employment Projects website ( and

Happenings at Rural Institute

Major Programs within the Rural Institute


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