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About the Rural Institute

Since 1979, the Rural Institute, Montana’s Center of Excellence in Disabilities, has sought to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities, especially those individuals living in Montana and other rural areas across the country. Our objective is to increase the independence, productivity, community integration, and inclusion of those with disabilities through education, research, and demonstration services.

As part of the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs), we share a vision that foresees a nation in which all Americans, including Americans with disabilities, participate fully in their communities.

We employ nine faculty and over 50 staff members who are currently working on 30+ projects that cover a broad range of disability related topics which include:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Family and Consumer Involvement
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Maintenance
  • Hearing Conservation
  • Inclusion
  • Independent Living
  • Personnel Preparation
  • Rural Rehabilitation
  • Self-employment
  • Social Security Incentives
  • Supported Employment
  • Transition from school to adult life

We believe that …

  • all people are capable of learning.
  • learning is influenced by a person’s living and working environment.
  • individuals exposed to normal patterns of daily life at home, school, work, and in the community are more likely to develop culturally appropriate, acceptable, and valued behaviors.
  • to the maximum extent possible, persons with disabilities should be integrated into rather than isolated from the communities in which they reside.
  • effective services are characterized by a balance of living, training, and support elements that allow each individual the opportunity to exercise his or her fundamental rights.
  • components of service delivery should include at least the following: a safe, homelike environment; support and instruction when necessary; recreation and leisure activities; nutritious and good tasting food; health care; clean, appropriate clothing; the dignity of risk; freedom to make choices; community inclusion; integration; social support; friends; and opportunities for happiness.

We seek to …

  • develop new knowledge through research, evaluation, needs assessment, and feasibility studies.
  • increase the quantity of qualified personnel available to provide those services through the delivery of pre-service and in-service interdisciplinary education.
  • facilitate communication, coordination, and planning of services for persons with disabilities by providing needed information to targeted groups and organizations.
  • develop new and innovative services and technologies that can be replicated within the service system.
  • access the unique resources of The University of Montana, other institutions of higher education, University Affiliated Programs, Research and Training Centers, and other professional organizations to assist the Rural Institute in accomplishing its goals.