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Community Investment Fund

The application period for 2018 funding closed May 1st. Please check back in late June to read about the funded project(s)!

Applications for the 2018 Community Investment Fund are now being accepted! The Community Investment Fund is made available annually for innovative projects that help people with disabilities live, learn, work and play in their communities alongside people without disabilities. Any Montana organization, agency, non-profit group, or individual with a creative idea to promote community inclusion is eligible to apply. Please note: due to University contracting requirements, successful applicants will be required to have liability insurance and either Workers’ Compensation coverage or a Workers’ Compensation exemption certificate.

More Information and application material

Statewide Collaboration to Improve ASD Initiatives in Montana Poster

Rural Institute MTAutism poster for AUCD presentation

The Montana Autism Center provides practical assistance, demonstrates proven techniques, and trains direct service staff.

  • Family Outreach (Helena) uses “Milestone” booklets as a discussion guide for each home visit.
  • The Part C agency renamed itself “Montana Milestones Part C Intervention” to capitalize on the LTSAE milestones concept
  • UCEDD and Ambassador meet bimonthly to plan and implement training and develop resources.

Continue reading poster information for Statewide Collaboration to Improve ASD

Access like air says man with cerebral palsy


Recently, I was contacted by Apostrophe magazine, to see if I was interested in putting something together about “access”. My first thoughts were access is a huge topic. I thought I should follow up with a few questions. Turns out, they wanted me to follow up on my statement, “To me access is like air, I need every day and all the time.”

Interestingly enough, the ADA and I are about the same age, we both turn 25 this year. I am part of that first generation to have always expected access to be a part of our lives. I grew up believing that I could and should be able to do everything anyone else did. If something didn’t work one way for me, I just needed to spend a little time thinking about, another way to accomplish the same thing. It wasn’t important how I did whatever, it was important that I was able to participate and be a part of whatever.

PLEASE NOTE: The Apostrophe Magazine website will let you view the article once, but once you leave the page, you can't go back without having to subscribe.

Isaac Baldry has served on the Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council since 2008.

MonTECH Program Director, Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities

The University of Montana invites applications to fill the position of Program Director for MonTECH at the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana. MonTECH provides assistive technology tools and services to people throughout the state of Montana and oversees various assistive technology (AT) programs.

The successful candidate will solicit input from various stakeholders to effectively promote and direct the program. The program director will demonstrate discretion and independent judgment in regard to program efforts and will be responsible for remaining current with developments in the field of assistive technology. This position will directly supervise staff, manage multiple grants and contract budgets and coordinate assistive technology services throughout the state. Consultation and collaboration will be key functions of this position, both internally and externally.

Continue reading MonTECH Program Director position

Social Media as a Tool for Employment

These days, the use of social media as a tool for employment plays a significant role in today’s job market.  Whether someone is looking for a job, interested in keeping a job, or wanting to network within a profession, various social media platforms can be utilized to advance employment goals.

Uses for Social Media and Employment:

Prospective employees use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to network, research potential employers, mitigate “digital dirt,” and promote themselves.

Employers use social media and other search tools to investigate potential employees, fact-check resumes, and research common connections.

Continue reading how LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can assist Vocational Rehabilitation consumers with job search and employment on the RTC: Rural website.

Self-Advocates and Researchers Sharing Leadership on the Development of a Violence Prevention Program

safety project th

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at high risk for abuse. Unique risks include:

  • Perception of being easy targets for victimization
  • Communication barriers
  • Difficulty identifying treatment as abusive, reporting abuse, and recognizing abuse as a crime
  • Lack of education about safety from abuse

There is a need for the development and systematic evaluation of a safety program for people with ID.

View The Safety Project poster.

Report to the President 2015

PCPID 2015 Report to President th

Leveling the Playing Field: Improving Technology Access and Design for People with Intellectual Disabilities

This is an important report regarding use of AT for people with IDD to attain independence. The first page describes the history. 

RTC: Rural - Using Social Media for Employment

Telecom Toolbox Logo

Using social media for employment is an important strategy for anyone on the job market.  When searching for a job, consumers must often look well beyond the “help wanted” section of the newspaper.   As a result, job search strategies have changed dramatically and social media increasingly plays a part in searching for and maintaining a job.  With that in mind, the Use for Social Media for Employment study was created to evaluate Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) counselors’ knowledge of and approach to social media.

Continue reading about social media on the RTC: Rural website.

Montana Gerontology Society Scholarship

The Montana Gerontology Society (MGS) is sponsoring a $1,000 scholarship for a Montana student who is pursuing a career in the field of aging.
The scholarship will be awarded at the annual conference, which will be held April 14-15, 2016, in Billings, Montana. A one-year membership in the Montana Gerontology Society and a waiver of the registration fee for the annual conference will be included with this award.

Application deadline: February 12, 2016

RTC: Rural - Access Partners-Get the Conversation Started

Teacher with spinal cord injury giving a lecture to students in classroomAccess Partners at the University of Montana “is an alliance to promote a campus environment that goes above and beyond disability compliance. It also promotes an inclusive campus community that welcomes all individuals and brings together faculty, staff and students to create a more positive and innovative UM experience for all people.” During the new group’s first meeting, accessibility leaders at UM provided information on resources, trainings and technical assistance offered by various departments.  For example, UM’s IT department, offers a series of trainings on the creation of accessible documents.  These trainings are free and designed to easily fit into faculty and staff schedules.

Continue reading about Access Partners on the RTC: Rural website.

2015 Montana Youth in Transition conference

Puzzle Pieces MathaliaIn early November, thirteen Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities Consumer Advisory Council (CAC) members from Helena, Polson, Missoula, Miles City, Corvallis and Elliston traveled to Great Falls for the 2015 Montana Youth in Transition conference.

Young adult and parent CAC members presented two workshops (“Puzzle Pieces: Putting Together the Pieces of Adult Life” and “SMART Surfing: Tips for Staying Safe on the Internet”); co-presented with representatives from various agencies at five additional workshops; hosted an information and resource table at the Youth Vendor Fair; recruited CAC members from underrepresented areas of the state; and nominated Emerging Leaders to share their stories of inclusive employment, education, housing, and/or recreation with other Montanans.

Continue reading Montana Youth in Transition Conference

2015 AUCD Annual Conference Presentation #2

School Climate Transformation: Using a PBIS Model in Indian Country

Rural Institute AUCD poster school climate website
Goal: To fully implement a culturally-grounded and culturally-appropriate Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) in schools that serve Montana is home to seven reservations and 12 sovereign Native American nations. primarily tribal areas.

View School Climate Transformation Poster PDF | Word

2015 AUCD Annual Conference Presentation

Autism in Rural Areas: Lessons we have learned in Montana

Rural Institute MTAutism AUCD poster

  • Social media and Facebook are a great way to share information and build community. Texting has not been as beneficial. 
  • Churches, bowling alleys and bars are good points of contact in rural and remote areas.
  • Indian Health Service provides an effective connection to tribal communities.
  • Local newsletters and Chamber of Commerce/community websites are good avenues for building resource awareness.

View Autism in Rural Areas Poster: PDF | Word


An Emerging Leader Update from Lissie

By Lauren Beyer, UM Rural Institute

lissie with display of productsFifteen years ago, Melissa, lovingly nicknamed Lissie, pushed bottles on an assembly line two or three days a week. Her life was often dictated by what others told her she could not do rather than what she thought she could learn. Today, Lissie is a successful and respected businesswoman. She is confident and proud to be a taxpaying member of society.

Lissie was interviewed in 2009 as part of the Emerging Leader series. I called six years later to find out what was new. The first thing she told me, laughing, is that she is no longer 33 years old. In addition, her recognition is growing, as well as her business responsibilities. Her life is full of activity, relationships, and activism. She is a busy woman who accomplishes whatever she is determined to pursue.

You can read more about Lissie on the Transition & Employment Projects email newsletter:

RTC: Rural - Born Accessible

Born accessible is a term that refers to documents and information that are created in formats using the four basics of information accessibilityright from the start.  Born accessible means that a document, website, book or presentation doesn’t have to be converted or adapted to be accessible but rather is created in accessible formats to meet the needs of users.  With a little training, born accessible strategies are easy to incorporate using existing technology.

Read more about accesible documents on the RTC:Rural website:

Regional Training for Stepping On® Leaders

Nov. 30 & Dec. 1
These courses, offered by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, are available in different parts of the state annually. Stepping On® is a CDC promoted, evidence-based fall prevention program for older adults and has been shown to decrease falls by over 30 percent in community dwelling older adults. If you live in Montana, have experience working with older adults and would be interested in being considered for training, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. This is training for leaders to teach the Stepping On® course. The only cost is your time. Prior experience with older adults or fall prevention is desirable but not required. Seats are limited.

RTC:Rural - APRIL Conference-Virginia is for Advocates!

On October 16-19, Virginia Beach was host to the APRIL conference.  Held annually for the last 21 years, the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) gathers its membership from across the country to network, offer training and technical assistance, and to provide  much needed opportunities for socialization and collaboration for staff of Centers for Independent Living who serve rural communities.

Lillie Greiman, Tannis Hargrove, Andrew Myers and Tom Seekins presented updates on research projects to APRIL membership.

Read more about the APRIL Conference on the RTC:Rural website:

RTC: Rural - National Disability Employment Month

business man in wheelchair pushing button to open door 300x200Since the passage of the ADA, more Americans with disabilities have entered the workforce but there is still much work to be done.  RTC: Rural conducts research projects that help support the health and wellness of people with disabilities hoping to find or maintain employment.

Working Well with a Disability is a six-week peer-facilitated workshop that builds on the content of Living Well and considers health in the context of employment.  Participants in the workshop learn the skills to maintain life balance, manage stress, and improve their health in support of looking for or maintaining employment.

You can read more of this article on the RTC: Rural website.

WorkingWell 72dpi rgb

RTC: Rural Awarded Development Grant

RTC logoThe Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities has received a five year, $2.5 million health promotion development grant.  This grant, awarded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) will fund the development of a state-of-the-art health promotion program.  This program will advance the ability of people with disabilities to live independently in the community by increasing access to our current evidence-based health promotion curriculum, Living Well with a Disability, using online multimedia that will support increased motivation and confidence for health improvement.

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

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

Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council Member - An Emerging Leader Update

emerging-leader-danielleSince my last article, I have been very busy and had a lot of exciting changes happen in my life. I'm currently a member of the Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council (formerly the Montana Transition Training, Information and Resource Center Advisory Board). I have served on the council and numerous work groups since 2008. I have attended (and often presented at) the Montana Youth in Transition Conference every year since 2009. I'm the official photographer for the Consumer Advisory Council, which means I take pictures at our meetings and the conferences. I created and am the administrator for the Consumer Advisory Council Facebook Page.

Continue reading Daniell's story at

RTC: Rural - Telecom Toolbox

telecom toolboxTelecom Toolbox is a useful online resource for Vocational Rehabilitation counselors who want to increase communication with people who live far away from services.

Telecom Toolbox provides an overview of telecommunication tools including email, texting and video chat as well as best practices for using them.  Telecom Toolbox also reviews the problems and concerns that come with More information iconusing these communication methods and suggests solutions to protect client privacy and promote effective online interactions, ensuring that consumers get the best services possible, even at a distance.

Continue reading article on RTC: Rural website:

RTC:Rural - Living and Working Well Workshops

man with disability exercisingLiving and Working Well with a Disability workshops are evidence-based health promotion programs for people with disabilities. Developed by RTC: Rural with help from people with disabilities, Living and Working Well have been shown to reduce both the severity and incidence of secondary conditions experienced by people with physical impairments.  Now that fall is approaching, consider setting some goals that will improve your health and find Living Well or Working Well workshops at a Center for Independent Living near you.

Learn more about these health promotion programs on the RTC:Rural website.

Montana Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program

2015 Continuing Education Conference for Health Care Professionals - Improving Geriatric Care Transitions

Tuesday, October 20, 2015, 7:45am - 4:15pm

Target Audience:
Nurses and APRNs, nursing home administrators, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, physician assistants, psychologists, social workers, and other health care professionals

Presenters in Billings and Missoula
Broadcasting to: Bozeman, Butte, Culbertson, Glendive, Great Falls, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Miles City, Lewistown, Poplar, Sidney, and more

Conference details and registration information coming soon!
See website: View abstract.

RTC: Rural - Disability Services for Students at College

students studyingDisability services for students at colleges and universities across the country are gearing up for the new school year.  Before you head off to school, check out the services your school provides to make sure you’re prepared for success.

At the University of Montana, Disability Services for Students provides a wide variety of services including translation of texts into alternate formats such as audio and Braille, as well as video captioning and exam modifications for student testing.  They also provide training on assistive technology such as screen reading programs and audio voice over.

Read more about disability services for college students on the RTC: Rural website.

The promise of 'community' for everyone

August 12, 2015 Missoulian Guest Column by Martin Blair

Marty Blair Guest Column“Are we there yet?” When it comes to employment and full inclusion of people with disabilities into our communities, the answer is, “probably not, but we are getting closer.”

In recent weeks, there has been a good bit of media coverage on the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. The ADA is the civil rights law for the nation’s nearly 60 million people with disabilities—including 200,000 Montanans with disabilities. The ADA guarantees equal access to public places, including schools, private businesses and government services, as well as employment protections for people with disabilities. In short, it promises that everyone, regardless of ability, is treated fairly."

Read more of Martin Blair's guest column for the Missoulian

UM Researcher Invited to Set National Goals on Research, Practice and Policy

“Absolutely!” is how Dr. Rosemary Hughes responded when invited to serve on the ‘Justice Strand’ at the National Goals 2015 meeting recently held in Washington, DC. Building on a similar effort in 2003, the National Goals 2015 initiative focuses on the current state of knowledge and identifies national goals in research, practice, and policy in intellectual and developmental disabilities. Based on civil rights protections guaranteed by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the 2015 goals reflect the U.S. commitment to improving outcomes for people with disabilities.

Continue reading about Dr. Hughes

RTC: Rural - Resource Maps that Promote Health

mobile phone with gps map application

Community resource maps are a great tool for consumers who want to learn how their environment can support their health.  RTC: Rural recently completed a research project that focused on Personal Community Resource Mapping, a process that helps consumers develop a road map to better health.  Using this system, consumers analyze their own communities, the places they go and the people they see, and use a map to create a picture, set goals and solve problems.

Continue reading article on RTC: Rural website -

RTC: Rural - ADA 25: Reflecting on Inclusion

rural institute staff celebrating ADA 25The Americans with Disabilities Act turned 25 on July 26th.  Communities, organizations and individuals across the country have been celebrating this important milestone in the months and weeks leading up to the anniversary.  But while the ADA has made great strides toward full inclusion of people with disabilities in all areas of life, there is still much work to be done.

For example, the “built environment” is one easy way to see how far we’ve come since passage of the ADA.  Take a look at your own community and the places you frequent.  Where are the accessible entrances?  Are they on the front of the building or tucked around back?  New buildings, such as the one pictured at right, often feature universally accessible front entrances that allow everyone access through the main entrance.  This is one example of full inclusion in the built environment.

Continue reading article on RTC: Rural website:


RTC: Rural - Centers for Independent Living in Your Community

man in wheelchair with friendsCenters for Independent Living (CILs) are non-profit, community-based organizations that provide peer support, information and referral services, advocacy, independent living skills training, and transition youth services for people with disabilities. CILs are developed and operated by people with disabilities and provide services in accordance with the tenets of Independent Living philosophy that emphasize consumer choice and control.  CIL services are flexible and responsive to the changing needs of their consumers, serving individuals across the lifespan, across disability and across gender and race.  Centers for Independent Living across the country offer activities, classes and opportunities to develop lasting, supportive friendships that help reduce feelings of isolation and encourage participation in the broader community.

Continue reading article on RTC: Rural website:

RTC:Rural - WIOA Anniversary-July 2015

young man workingstk212419rke 300x300The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law on July 22, 2014, and is an amendment to the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. A large federal legislative bill that encompasses The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, WIOA authorizes the formula grant programs for vocational rehabilitation, supported employment, client assistance, and Independent Living.

Continue reading about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) at

RTC: Rural - Americans with Disabilities Act Turns 25 on July 26th

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 25 on July 26th.  The ADA, a civil rights law passed in 1990, “prohibits discrimination in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public” (ADA National Network).  But, while the law is nearly 25 years old, there is still much work to be done to ensure people with disabilities are able to fully access all areas of community life.

In order to keep the Americans with Disabilities Act at the forefront of public policy and to emphasize its importance not only to people with disabilities but to everyone interested in civil rights, celebrations are happening all across the country with the ADA Legacy Bus Tour.

Continue reading ADA 25th Anniversary Celebration at

Bob Liston, RTC: Rural Researcher and Advocate, Retires

Bob Liston 2014 DiverseUBob Liston, a long time disability rights activist, and a research associate for RTC: Rural, is retiring.  Bob began his work at the RTC in 2008 with a focus on nursing home emancipation for people with disabilities, and over the last seven years has participated in research on violence and abuse against men with disabilities and helped develop a peer training program for Centers for Independent Living.  His most recent project was conducting outreach to disability stakeholders to get their input on RTC research projects and product development.

Continue reading more about Bob at:

Involving Consumers in Disability Research

man in wheel chair using computer 200x300Involving consumers in disability research helps ensure the products of research are relevant and useful.  Research and Training Centers across the country work hard to incorporate consumers into the research process and are mandated to do so by their primary funding agency, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, (NIDILRR).  This mandate for consumer involvement is crucial, not only to make sure research actually benefits people with disabilities but also to support and affirm nothing about us without us, the Independent Living Movement’scall to action for consumer involvement at all levels of research and service.

Continue reading more on the RTC:Rural website.

Standing is Critical for Bone Health, Digestion, Mental Health

Oftentimes, people who primarily depend upon wheelchairs for their mobility spend their day sitting in the wheelchair and their nights lying in bed. Our long bones require two forces in order to be healthy: weight bearing against gravity and muscle pull.

Without these forces, our bones weaken and can eventually fracture easily during simple daily activities. Standing improves breathing, digestion, and spinal alignment. Standing helps to prevent circulation issues, obesity, skin breakdown, and idiopathic bone fractures. Standing allows people to be on eye-level during social interactions.

Everybody – adult or child -  needs to stand on their feet part of every day. There are simply no exceptions to this rule. With some people, this requires assistance, special equipment and/or additional motivators. Sometimes, when people with IDD move from school to their adult life, this part of their daily routine is lost. We must all work together to restore safe and healthy standing and physical activity to everyone’s daily routines. Before beginning a new activity, always check with the primary care provider on the team.

Continue reading message from Mindy

RTC:Rural - Accessibility Promotes Participation

Girl standing with her grandmother sitting in a wheelchair 87388731 200x300Accessibility features of public and private spaces ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in life activities.  Researchers at RTC: Rural have been studying accessibility in the context of events and other community settings to see how people with disabilities are included in all the activities a community has to offer.

While the need for hospitals, grocery stores and schools to be accessible is widely recognized, we don’t always consider the accessibility of the places in which people recreate.  Participation isn’t just limited to the basic necessities of daily life such as medical visits and shopping.  Opportunities for socialization and outdoor recreation are just as important.

Read the recent news post on the RTC: Rural website.

The Older Americans Act: Aging Well Since 1965

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) into law in July 1965. Over the past 50 years, the Act has provided a national network of aging services and funding that helps older adults to live and thrive in communities of their choice for as long as possible. These services include home-delivered and congregate meals, caregiver support, preventive health services, transportation, job training, elder abuse prevention, and so much more. This milestone anniversary is a time to celebrate the ways the OAA has impacted the lives of older adults and their families across the nation. But it also provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of OAA-funded programs, inclusive community living, and healthy aging.

OAA50 WebBadgeMediumSquareThe theme for the 50th anniversary of the OAA is Get into the Act. Visit their website for outreach materials to educate and inspire others in your community.

Knowledge Translation-What Is It?

Knowledge translation refers to the practice of getting research off the shelves and into the hands of those who can benefit from it.  Originating in the health sciences, knowledge translation activities focus not only on the implementation of research but translating research results into useable, understandable formats to benefit both service providers and consumers. In order to make sure disability research conducted at RTC: Rural will be useful and relevant once the project is complete and to enhance the success of knowledge translation activities, we involve consumers in project development right from the start.

Read more about RTC:Rural knowledge translation.

Pain and Participation

Woman with multiple sclerosis giving keys to a service dog in the snow 117195499 300x200Pain is commonly experienced by people with disabilities.  The relationship between pain and participation was explored by researchers at RTC: Rural to see if pain acted as a barrier to people’s ability to participate fully in community life.  The concept of participation and understanding the barriers that hinder it is important.  Just as inaccessible buildings and transportation can interfere with employment, errands and engaging in social activities, pain can also keep people at home. Understanding the multiple barriers that interfere with participation for people with disabilities is crucial to developing meaningful policies and community change.

Visit to read more about this research.


Transportation Voucher Model

man in wheelchair using car lift The transportation voucher model works to address transportation barriers in rural communities, a significant problems for people with disabilities.  Many rural communities lack the resources to provide accessible and safe transportation so that people with disabilities can fully participate in community life.  Researchers at RTC: Rural studied this problem and developed one potential solution that helps individual consumers meet their transportation needs through the use of transportation vouchers.

You can read more about the transportation voucher model by visiting the RTC: Rural website.

RTC: Rural - Early Exit from VR Services

business man in wheelchair pushing button to open doorPeople with disabilities have an unemployment rate more than twice that of people without disabilities.  The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) system helps people with disabilities find and maintain employment but over half of VR consumers leave services early. In 2013, researchers at the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC: Rural) conducted a research project on early exit from VR services.  Reasons for early exit from VR services vary but include issues such as inaccurate contact information, disconnected phone or relocation.  However, some VR consumers cite dissatisfaction with services as their primary reason for discontinuing.  The researchers who developed this study wanted to learn more about why consumers were not satisfied with VR services and offer insight on these findings to VR counselors with the goal of reducing early exit from the system.

Continue reading "Early Exit from VR Services."


Evidence Based Practices for Autism: A Practical Approach for Pre-Service Professionals

autism summer 2015 UM classSummer 2015 Class Application

CSD 491 – 80M, CRN 51149, Instructor approval required

This 3 credit blended online course with a practical lab is the first comprehensive evidenced based practices course for autism in the state. EBP for Autism will allow pre-service professionals to develop EBP strategies to effectively support their clients. This course promises to provide future interventionists with the tools necessary to implement the specialized interventions required for people with autism.

Preventable Deaths in Montana: Unintentional Injury Deaths by County

preventable deaths injury thUnintentional injury is the leading cause of death among people aged 1-44 years and the rate has been steadily increasing in Montana since 1994. Of deaths due to unintentional injury in Montana, the majority are related to motor vehicle crashes, falls, and poisonings. The Montana Injury Prevention Program (MIPP) has chosen to focus on these priority areas. This report describes the rate of premature death due to unintentional injury at the county level. Comparing these rates across the state allows communities to identify potentially preventable deaths in their area and take steps to reduce the burden of unintentional injury for their population.

Download the Preventable Deaths in Montana: Unintentional Injury Deaths by County PDF

Montana’s Focus on Autism License Plate

DEAP autism license plateBeginning this year, Montana has an autism-focused license plate. The proceeds benefit the Developmental Educational Assistance Program (DEAP) in Miles City, MT. For more information, contact Kim Beaner at 406-234-6034 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This plate benefits DEAP ($20 per plate), a not for profit organization providing services individuals with autism and their caregivers including public awareness and education, evaluation and diagnosis and applied behavioral intervention.

RTC: Rural Featured Project - Home Usability Networks

Principal staff: Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., Lillie Greiman, M.A., Robert Liston, M.A., Andrew MyersLogo Just homes 277x300

While there is a great deal of research on the relationship between the environment and disability, there is less research on housing and how it affects the health and participation of people with disabilities. The goal of this project was to develop tools to assess whether or not housing is usable and to facilitate development of a local Home Usability Network to help people solve home usability problems.

Read more about The Home Usability Network.


RTC: Rural Featured Project

Ecology of Rural Disability

Principal staff: Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., Tom Seekins, Ph.D., Tracy Boehm, M.P.H., Tannis Hargrove, M.S., Lillie Greiman, M.A.

People feel like they fit in rural communities based on the values they share with their neighbors and continue to live there despite the challenges associated with having limited resources such as access to public transportation. These challenges can be particularly difficult when a person has a disability. This project will look at the experience of disability in rural communities and its long term impact on individuals. Read more about Ecology of Rural Disability.

Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health Guide


developmentalDisabilitiesGuide th2Members of the Montana Transition Training, Information and Resource Center (MT-TIRC) Advisory Board, themselves young adults with developmental disabilities, created this brochure to raise awareness of the mental health needs of youth with developmental disabilities and to suggest skills they think are important for mental health professionals to have when working with this population. 

Inside you'll find:

  • What Young Adults Want YOU to Know
  • What Skills Should a Mental Health Therapist Have?
  • Tips to Help You Feel Better While Experiencing Depression
  • Track Your Healthy Lifestyle Choices
  • Youth Mental Health Bill of Rights


Come together to prevent, treat Alzheimer's disease

MINDY RENFRO for the Missoulian

"As aggravating as it is to have to search for our keys, the real problem is our fear that we are heading down the "slippery slope" of one of the many types of dementia. Thankfully, this is not commonly the case. However, it is occurring at an alarming rate to our parents, family members, friends and neighbors – and it will include a significant number of those of us reading this article."


February 2015 Featured Emerging Leader

Randy - A Man with Many Talents

By Tracy Fillbach, Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council Member and Susanne Meikle, Director of Montana Work Solutions, LLC

Randy lives in his own home, a two-bedroom house with a bathroom, living room, kitchen and backyard. According to Randy, "I bought my house in 2007. I pay a mortgage each month. I clean and maintain my home. I cook for myself. I am a very good cook. I love to barbecue in my backyard. This year I started a garden and grew tomatoes, green beans, bell peppers, onions, basil, parsley, and radishes. I watered and weeded...I did not like weeding. My onions did not come, but everything else did and I cooked with everything I grew. Because I had so many green beans and tomatoes, I froze them to use later." 

You can read more about Randy on this month's Featured Emerging Leader.

To read more stories visit the Transition and Employment Projects Emerging Leaders Stories page.

Mindy Renfro presented at the annual Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association

mindy renfro and panel membersMindy Renfro, PT, PhD, GCS of RI's MonTECH programs presented last week at the annual Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association in Indianapolis, IN. The panel looked at Fall Prevention in Special Populations and Renfro focused on Older Adults with Developmental Disabilities. The session was attended by over 350 PTs from across the country and research and collaboration was planned with researchers from the U.S. and New Zealand.

Panel included (left to right) Sue Ostertag, PT, DPT, NCS, Mariana Wingood, PT, CEEAA, Jen Nash, PT, NCS and Mindy Renfro, PT, PhD, GCS.

This Valentine’s Day, ask your loved ones to go STEADY

STEADY ValentinesDay 1

Show the special elders in your life how much you care by helping them prevent falls

Columbus, Ohio – Caregiving is the ultimate expression of love and devotion, so for this Valentine's Day, the STEADY U Ohio initiative encourages all Ohioans to learn what you can do to help an older loved one avoid a life-altering fall. One in three older adults will fall this year – don’t let someone you care about become part of that statistic.

“One of the best gifts you can give an older loved one is the peace of mind that falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented,” said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc. D., director of the Ohio Department of Aging, which leads the STEADY U initiative. “Older adults may not want to talk about falling because they see it as a threat to their independence. By bringing the subject up persistently but respectfully, and showing that you care, you can help remove some of their anxiety around the topic and help them reduce their risk.”


Transition and Employment Projects 2015 Training Calendar

transition employment logoThe Rural Institute Transition and Employment Projects is pleased to announce four webinars scheduled for 2015. Interested individuals may participate from their own offices or homes, and there is no registration cost for any of the sessions.

March 24th from 1:00-2:30 MDT
A Vision of Employment for All: Preparing Youth to Work        

April 7th from 1:00-2:30 MDT
Addressing Barriers to Employment        

April 28th from 1:00-2:30 MDT
MT Vocational Rehabilitation & Blind Services and the WIOA        

May 26th from 1:00-2:30 MDT
So You Want to Go to College?

Detailed informational fliers and registration links are sent to Montana Transition Listserv members three weeks before each session. You can join the listserv by visiting our home page ( and entering your email address in the listserv sign-up box.

Continue reading 2015 Training Calendar

Planning Your Transition from Pediatric to Adult Health Care - A Workbook to Help You Take Charge of Your Health

transition workbookWe are pleased to provide you this new publication 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. Ideally, the workbook will be used as a guide for conversations between youth, their parents, and their medical providers.

The workbook is a publication of the Transition and Employment Projects at the University of Montana Rural Institute, and was funded in whole or in part under a contract with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The statements contained in the publication do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Department.

The workbook is also available on the Transition and Employment Projects website ( as both a downloadable print-ready PDF file and as an accessible Word file.

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MGS/GCOA 2015 Annual Conference

Amongst many expert speakers, the MonTECH staff will be presenting two 90-minutes sessions on Assistive Technology to support older adults living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias. Nationally-acclaimed keynote speakers will address the meeting including Howard Federoff, MD, Dena Shenk, PhD, and Patricia Coon, MD. To register to attend or be an exhibitor, please go to and follow the conference link.

“Winterize” to Prevent Falls: UM Faculty Highlights Guidelines for the Elderly

Beautiful, cold, dangerous. All of these words describe winter weather in Montana. For older Montanans, falls are a major cause of winter-related injuries and some deaths.

Dr. Mindy Renfro, a UM physical therapist and the Montana Adaptive Equipment Program Coordinator at the UM Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, wants to make this winter is safe, warm and wonderful for all Montanans. Her advice was recently highlighted in the December 2014 issue of Neurology Now. She advises older Montanans to maintain good vision, exercise regularly, and to evaluate homes for safety risks.

Continue reading how to prevent falls

Montana Rehabilitation Award goes to UM Advocate

“A leader for change” is how one colleague put it. Another said, “Without Theresa there would be many young people who would not be getting the education…to prepare them for the future.” They are talking about Theresa Baldry, a long-time disability advocate and part-time UM staff based in Miles City, Montana. Theresa was recently recognized by the Montana Rehabilitation Association with the 2014 President’s Award. This honor is given annually to an individual who has made a major contribution to the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities on a state-wide basis.

Theresa’s UM colleagues said it this way, “Her personal journey raising a son with disabilities has given Theresa amazing insight into the process that is needed to assure that individuals with disabilities have appropriate choices.” They add, that she is a “strong advocate” and that her “experience enables her to provide practical guidance and information.”
Among many other things, Theresa coordinates MonTECH activities in eastern Montana working primarily with schools and local communities to improve educational and life outcomes for young people with disabilities. MonTECH is a major community support of UM’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities.

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Winterize to Prevent Falls

Below are five simple steps that YOU can take today to make a big impact on falls for older adults and adults with disabilities in your community:

  1. Raise awareness by posting and disseminating this simple and colorful infographic -- 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall -- from the National Council on Aging.
  2. Check shoes, boots, and assistive devices and be sure that they are “winterized.”  
    1. Ingrid – Ice Gripper Cane Tip is available at Fashionable Canes and Cozy Winters  
    2. Yaktrax Spikeless Ice & Snow Shoe Gripper Sole Covers are at Fashionable Canes
    3. Keen shoes can be found at OnlineShoes
    4. Try this inexpensive way to make wheelchair snow tires
  3. Encourage older adults to carry a Ziploc bag filled with a lightweight kitty litter in their pocket and cast it out ahead of themselves on very slick surfaces. More information about using kitty litter for traction can be found here.
  4. ‘Tis the season for gift giving! Encourage adult children to give fall-proofing holiday gifts to their parents:
    1. Fall alarm systems that are motion triggered without hitting a button
    2. Higher toilets in the home
    3. Replace multifocal glasses with single vision eyeglass lenses
    4. Grab bars in bathroom and next to outside steps or inside thresholds

Continue reading fall prevention

"Get up and seize the day."

By Maclaen Burningham, Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council Member

Emerging Leader Nate, from PolsonIn August 2014, I interviewed Nate of Polson, Montana, as an Emerging Leader. I have included the questions I asked Nate and his responses below. Because Nate doesn't speak, I sent him the questions ahead of time and his family communicated with him to develop his answers. His dad spoke for him in the interview, with occasional nods of the head in agreement by Nate to what his dad said.  

Maclaen:  Thank you for agreeing to this interview.  I am going to ask you some questions.  Please answer them as thoroughly as you can.  You don't have to answer any questions you don't want to answer.  We want to help other young adults and their families understand how you are able to live, work, play and learn in your community.  Where do you live?  

Nate:  I live in an apartment that used to be part of a duplex. My parents live upstairs. This gives me the potential in the future to gain more independence by learning to take care of myself.

Maclaen: Where do you work or volunteer?

Nate:  Although currently I do not have paid employment, I volunteer at the local food bank with my dad. We re-package potatoes, recycle cardboard and pick up donations from a local grocery store. I enjoy the work as well as time with the staff.

Continue reading the interview with Nate...


Donate Used Medical Equipment


Please share this during our season of giving and remembering others.

Mon-Fri 9 AM—4 PM
MonTECH/ UM’s Rural Institute
700 SW Higgins, Suite 200, Missoula, MT 59803

Call 406- 243-2841 or 243-5511

Please don't throw away good and lightly used medical equipment. Pass it on to another Montana resident in need.

All kinds of medical equipment accepted.
Adaptive equipment for children with disabilities is always in need. Plus, sometime or other, we all need crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs,  commodes, tub benches etc. When you no longer need the equipment or device, consider donating it for another Montanan to use.

Benefiting all Montanans experiencing temporary or permanent disability.


Rural Institute for Inclusive Communties presents at DiverseU

Meg 2014 DiverseUFaculty and staff of UM’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities presented information on community accessibility at “DiverseU,” the University of Montana’s annual diversity symposium. Presentations offered insight into the ways in which community design either includes or excludes people with disabilities and began with an historic overview.

Bob Listen at DiverseUThe history of disability has been one of exclusion in which people with disabilities were not able to be part of daily life and were often institutionalized in inhumane conditions. But in the 1960’s, advocates and activists worked for sweeping social change that eventually led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Although the ADA is coming up on its 25th anniversary, many community spaces remain inaccessible.

Continue reading more about the DiverseU presentation

"Visit Montana Colleagues" trip report by Marty Blair

1250.1. That is the number of miles I traveled last week on my "Visit Montana Colleagues" trip.

I started in Helena with the new Developmental Disabilities Program (DDP) director, the MT Part C Coordinator, and the director of Disability and Employment Transitions (MT's VR agency). I spent almost two hours with our federal partner, the MT Developmental Disabilities Council.

In Billings I met with the medical and administration staff at The Children's Clinic, I also met with the director of PLUK, Inc and the director of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI).

On to Glendive where I spent several hours with the Prairie View Special Services Coop coordinator (provides special education and related services in 13 eastern counties) and the new president of Dawson Community College.

Continue reading about Marty's trip

UM Students Helping Montanans with Developmental Disabilities

“I locate, pack, and ship adaptive equipment all over Montana.” Megan Murphy, a UM pharmacy student, is talking about her work-study job with the Montana Adaptive Equipment Program (MAEP). For more than two decades, the program has provided adaptive equipment to Montanans with developmental disabilities. Megan is one of several UM students who are the hands that make sure people from Superior to Sydney get the equipment they need to be more independent. Megan says that this experience has “really opened my eyes to other opportunities.” She adds, “When I'm a pharmacist, I'll be asked a lot of questions regarding medical equipment and now I feel like I know what I'm talking about.”

Continue reading about Megan and MAEP

UM Accessibility Policy

The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities applauds the University of Montana for developing a fairly comprehensive Accessibility Implementation Plan to enact its new Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Policy. While no policy is perfect, this initiative represents a huge step forward for the University. The policy is designed to provide full access to students, staff and visitors to the UM community. It addresses web access, accessibility of instructional materials and documents, audio and video access and procurement of hardware and software that is accessible to people of all abilities. On behalf of our staff, students and the thousands of Montanans that we serve, we thank UM for taking this bold step, for doing the "right" thing and for working hard to fully implement this policy across the several UM campuses.

Martin E. Blair, PhD
Executive Director
The Rural Institute, University of Montana

UM Student and Research Professor Teach Each Other Valuable Lessons

Hyeok Yun, an undergraduate student from South Korea, is gaining a wider perspective on how art therapy and counseling are impacted by disability research. Under the direction of Dr. Craig Ravesloot, a research professor at UM’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, Hyeok’s work is exposing her to other issues too. “I didn't pay attention to or think about rural communities very much. I've grown up and lived in big cities. This job made me think as if I were in their shoes,” she says adding, “I’m very happy being a part of this project.”

Continue reading about Hyeok Yun and Dr. Craig Ravesloot

UM Research Faculty Invited to the White House Summit and Research Forum on Improved Health and Fitness for Americans with Disabilities

Dr. Meg Ann Traci was one of a select group of advocates and experts recently invited to the White House to discuss ways to get people with disabilities more physically active. Dr. Traci, Director of Montana’s Disability and Health program administered through UM’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, attended the White House meeting on October 6-7, 2014. She commented, “The discussion made me more aware of Montana’s unique capacity to increase access to healthy lifestyle activities for Americans with disabilities, especially those living in rural areas.” “Representing Montana disability and public health partners, I strengthened our connections with national advocates, large research organization collaborators and federal agency administrators—all of whom work together for inclusion and health equity for people with disabilities,” she continued.

Continue reading about Dr. Meg Ann Traci's trip to the White House Summit

Montana Youth in Transition Conference

Register now for the Montana Youth in Transition Conference, to be held November 5-7, 2014, in Missoula!

The Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council is recruiting a representative from the Montana Developmental Disabilities Program, as well as individuals with developmental disabilities from the north and south central areas of the state to serve on the council.

The advisory council helps various Rural Institute projects determine necessary and appropriate activities, establish priorities, develop work plans, craft products, deliver training, and conduct evaluation activities. Term lengths run for 12 months and may be renewed. Meetings are held quarterly; one meeting is face-to-face (generally in Missoula or Helena) and the other three are conference calls. In addition, council members may be asked to serve on work groups or task forces, which could require additional meetings by conference call.

Continue reading about Montana Youth in Transition Conference

Living and Working Well: Health Promotion for People with Mobility Impairments

Upcoming RHI Webinar!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
10:00 to 11:00 A.M. MTN
Register at:

Join us to learn about two community-based programs that support the health, quality of life, and participation of people living with disabilities in Montana.

Access to healthcare is both a common rural healthcare problem and a specific problem for people with disabilities. When these two challenges are combined, the individual with a disability who lives in a rural area confronts additional barriers to receiving the quality of care that support health, quality of life, and participation in rural communities.

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Early Exposure to People with Physical and Sensory Disabilities and Later Attitudes Toward Social Interactions and Inclusion

Emily M. Lund, Tom Seekins


This study assessed the relationship between exposure to classmates with visible impairments in primary and secondary schools with later attitudes toward people with disabilities.  Fifty college students (mean age = 20.28 years; 76% female) completed measures assessing the extent and quality of recalled exposure to classmates with disabilities in elementary and secondary school. Attitudes toward social inclusion and toward a hypothetical social interaction were also measured. Participants reported generally high levels and quality of exposure, with significantly more exposure at the secondary level. Quality of exposure at both the elementary and secondary levels was significantly (p < .01) correlated with more positive cognitions (i.e., thoughts) during a hypothetical social interaction. Cognitions were not significantly correlated with emotions or behaviors and amount of elementary exposure was negatively correlated with attitudes to social inclusion (p < .05). These results suggest a possible relation between positive early experiences and later friendship intentions that should be further explored.

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Upcoming Montana's Rural Health Initiative Webinar!

Building Inclusive Playgrounds in Montana:  Examples from Missoula and Helena

Thurday, August 7, 2014   |   12:00 to 1:00 P.M. MTN

Register here:

Learn how two Montana communities brought accessible opportunities to local playgrounds to make fun - inclusive. 

Meg Traci, Director of the Montana Disability and Health Program of the Rural Institute will be one of the presenters.

Outdoor play is critical for healthy child development, and children learn from play in a variety of ways:  physical, cognitive, emotional, and sensory.  Children with disabilities are empowered when the built environment meets their needs for play. Indeed, all children benefit when play spaces are designed for children of all abilities to play together.

Continue reading about RHI Webinar

Featured Program: MonTECH Equipment Recycling Program

The MonTECH Equipment Recycling Program (MERP) is a Reuse – Recycling program dedicated to improving the health and accessibility of each person’s home/work/play environments by facilitating the passing of durable medical equipment from those people who no longer need their equipment to those people most in need. The program works with the Pass It On Center at a national level to foster improvements in assistive technology (AT) reuse. 

The goal is to create and nurture a statewide network of small loan closets that will help Montanans access the equipment they need when they need it and close to their home.  Many of these loan closets exist already, but MERP is working to create a network to “get the word out” from the MonTECH website.

Although inventory varies over time, the most frequently recycled previously-used equipment has included:

  • Wheelchairs and some scooters
  • Bath chairs and commode seats/ toilet riser seats
  • Variety of older pediatric equipment such as gait trainers, Tumbleforms, etc.
  • Adult adjustable canes, crutches, front-wheeled walkers

Continue reading about MERP

Fishing Derby

Montana’s outdoors are some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on earth. Unfortunately many Montanans have a difficult time enjoying all the outdoors has to offer due to physical limitations. MonTECH is an organization that uses state funding and grants to loan assistive technology to Montanans in need.

Recently MonTECH joined up with the Missoula Parks and Recreation department to put on a series of youth fishing derbies. During 2 sessions between 70 and 90 families participated in the derby fishing in the Clark Fork river in Missoula. During the event Parks and Rec. taught sustainable fishing practices to the youth and their families. They even awarded prizes for biggest and smallest fish, as well as prettiest and ugliest fish.

Continue reading about MonTECH Recreation

Rick Heitz - building up the advocacy network in Montana

The Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities is looking forward to working with Rick Heitz. Rick is the Montana State Coordinator for Pacific Alliance for Disability Self-Advocacy (PADSA), visit:

Here are Rick’s own words about himself: “I became involved in the disability community when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s in April 2008. I have many of the symptoms of MS (Multiple Sclerosis) which is a slow degenerating disease.

Continue reading about Rick

Webinar about Young Adults with Disabilities Transitioning into Adult Lives

“Amazing!” That’s how participants describe a recent webinar facilitated by the Rural Institute’s Kim Brown and Ellen Condon. Their webinar series is a highly-respected source of information for young adults with disabilities transitioning into their adult lives and for the family members and professionals who support them. Over 175 people from 25 states participated in the May 13, 2014 session entitled “Self-Management Strategies for People to Live and Work Independently.”

The presenters discussed ways to incorporate hi-, lo- and no-tech assistive technology (AT) into daily life to help build self-management and independence skills.  They also described  planning processes used to determine appropriate AT for an individual at each stage of a person’s life.

Continue reading about Self-Management Strategies

Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D. - 2014 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., was awarded the National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Center 2014 Distinguished Service award at the NARRTC annual conference in Washington, DC.

Dr. Ravesloot has been conducting research at the RTC:Rural for more than 25 years. He received the award for his research productivity, including the national reach of the evidence-based Living Well with a Disability program that has been implemented by over 250 organizations in more than 45 states.

Tom Seekins Receives 2014 ADA Award at UM

The University of Montana awarded Tom Seekins its Americans with Disabilities Act Award for 2014. The ADA Award honors individuals whose contributions advance education and employment opportunities for people with disabilities at the University of Montana in Missoula, and who carry on the spirit of the ADA. Recipients of the award are recognized for consistent efforts to increase accessibility for people with disabilities, for leading the way by providing an inclusive environment for everyone, for successful implementation of programs and strategies that result in measurable change, and for using collaborative practices across units at UM.

Continue reading about Tom Seekins

Rural Institute Researchers present update to Interagency Committee on Disability Statistics

The University of Montana Rural Institute on Disabiities has been invited to present an update on their recent research activities to a subcommittee of the Federal Interagency Committee on Disability Statistics on May 7, 2014. Lillie Greiman, M.A., and Catherine Ipsen, Ph.D., will present “Using National Data to Describe the Context of Rural Disability and Inform Policy and Practice.”

According to Greiman, “It’s a great opportunity to highlight our research and bring attention to disability issues in rural America, which don’t often get the attention they deserve.”

Greiman will present metro, micro, and non-core disability data from the American Community Survey (ACS). This information is also contained in a new RTC:Rural publication that Greiman co-authored entitled: Map Facts: Disability in Rural America (PDF).

Continue reading about Interagency Committee on Disability

UM Trainee with a Lifelong Commitment to People with Disabilities

Jenn Banna is a UM parent leadership trainee in the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) program. URLEND works with UM’s Rural Institute and other universities to develop leaders who can improve health and educational outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and their families. Jenn knows disability well. In high school she provided respite care to people with disabilities and her father was the first Director of the Child Development Center at Fort Missoula. She has had two children with disabilities. One passed away, and her fourth child was born with PittHopkins Syndrome.

In recent years, with PLUK, Inc. (Montana’s Parent Training and Information Center for families who have a child with a disability) and the Mountain States Genetics Regional Collaborative, Jenn helped support families with children who have atypical medical, behavioral, or basic needs. This past year she was appointed to the Montana Family Support Services Advisory Council (FSSAC) by Governor Steve Bullock.

Continue reading about Jenn Banna

Circular graphs show relationships between time use and transportation

Andrew Myers uses circular graphs or “Circos graphs” as a visual tool to highlight relationships derived from large amounts of data from the American Time Use Survey. Circos graphs were initially used in the natural sciences to represent genome sequences, however, their utility for visualizing large data is particularly helpful for representing relationships between time use and transportation use among Americans with mobility impairments.

Andrew, a graduate student in Geography, assists Dr. Craig Ravesloot with this research project. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of having a mobility impairment on the way people use time and transportation. They found that people with mobility impairments spent less time working and more time watching TV. Furthermore, about half of everyone with severe mobility impairments didn’t go anywhere during the day, an issue that makes it difficult for people with mobility impairments to become involved in their communities.

Continue reading about Andrew and circular graphs

The Science of Health and Wellness for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

University of Montana Rural Institute researchers are helping to set a national agenda on health and disability.  Dr. Kathleen Humphries, a nutrition researcher at the  Rural Institute and the UM School of Public and Community Health Sciences is among national leaders identifying what we know and what we need to know to reduce health disparities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A national team, including Dr. Humphries, met at the 2012 State of the Science Conference on Outcomes and Quality of Life in Community Living and Employment in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Continue reading about national agenda on health and disability

Students Awarded Research Scholarships

Lorraine Adams was awarded the Watkins Undergraduate Research Scholarship through the University of Montana Davidson Honors College for the spring semester of 2014. Using qualitative interviews, Lorraine is examining health literacy from a patient’s perspective.

Cathy Berendts was awarded the Watkins Undergraduate Research Scholarship through the University of Montana Davidson Honors College for spring semester of 2014. Cathy is examining data from the Pain Interference Patterns project collected by a UM Rural Institute ( research team and funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, (NIDRR; H133G110077).

Continue reading about scholarships

Students Learn about Assistive Technology

When Shy Iverson had to prepare a presentation about blindness for his Exceptionalities and Classroom Management class this past semester, he asked Julie Doerner for help. Julie is the Clinical Coordinator at the UM Rural Institute MonTECH program. Shy learned about Braille keyboards, special scanners, and other equipment that help students who are blind or have low vision. Shy said, "The presentation went over very well. We were able to present a wide variety of Assistive Technology devices to the class that broadened everyone's understanding of how teachers can and should approach blindness in a classroom."

Continue reading about student learning

Adaptive Equipment for Outdoor Recreation Helps Make the Environment Accessible

Chris Clasby, a former employee of UM’s MonTECH (Montana's Assistive Technology Program), is featured in a recent Montana PBS episode of "Backroads of Montana.” You will see how Chris uses adaptive equipment to continue experiencing the outdoors after his accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.

Chris floats down the Missouri River on a modified raft using an adapted fishing rod that works off compressed air. He operates the casting and reeling with his chin. He moves the controller left and right to cast and presses down to reel in the line. “It's the same feeling I had when I fished before I had a disability. Disability does not define you. I’m still the same person I was. It's the same exact thing.”

Continue reading about outdoor recreation

Leadership Training in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Julia Hammond, a University of Montana doctoral student in Clinical Psychology with a neuropsychology and child & family emphasis, received a scholarship to attend the mid-November conference of the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD). Julia is preparing to work with children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as traumatic brain injury and autism.

Continue reading about leadership training

Leadership Training with Families and Healthcare Providers

Bethany Rigles is the Montana State Coordinator for the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) consortium. Since 2006 over 20 UM students and parents have participated as trainees in the URLEND consortium, which originates at the University of Utah Medical School in Salt Lake City, UT. URLEND aims to develop future leaders in the fields of disability and health, and to improve health and educational outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and their families.

Continue reading about leadership training

Did you Know


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Advice for the Governor

Disability, Health and the Governor

Dr. Meg Traci was recently appointed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock to the Montana Community First Choice (CFC) Development and Implementation Council. The Council advises the Department of Public Health and Human Services on the development of an integrated home and community-based service system for Montana. The Community First Choice Option will enable more Montanans with disability to stay at home rather than entering nursing homes. The Council seeks input from consumers, family members, advocates, providers, and other stakeholders. Dr. Traci looks “forward to working on related projects with UM students and faculty colleagues," and acknowledges that "it is an honor to serve on the Council, and provide input on the development of CFC Option in Montana.” Dr. Traci’s expertise will contribute to the CFC person-centered planning process.

Continue reading Advice for the Governor

UM Improving Independence of People with Disabilities in South Korea

The independent living movement in South Korea is young, vibrant and ready to make South Korea accessible for all people with disabilities. In August, Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Director of Rural Health Research for the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities, supported that vision by conducting Living Well with a Disability facilitator training in Seoul. More than 85 staff and directors from Centers for Independent Living (CIL) attended the training.

Continue reading about South Korea

National Disability Employment Expert

Catherine Ipsen at deskNational expert on disability and employment? We’ve got it.

Dr. Catherine Ipsen was among a select few recently invited to present her research findings at the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The presentation and subsequent meeting with national leaders in disability and employment was focused on the translation of research findings to practice. According to Ipsen it was “an incredible experience to spend a day with leading researchers in the field -- the people I reference in my own work and look to for guidance in an evolving field.”

Continue reading about disability and employment

Access to outdoor recreation is the goal of the UM MonTECH Recreation program

 MonTECH Outdoor Recreation Lee Bastion and Kathy LaurinFor the past several years, MonTECH director Kathy Laurin and her staff have been compiling accessibility information for Montana public recreation lands. During the summer of 2013, Lee Bastian, who recently retired as a Regional Park Manager for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, evaluated recreation sites in western Montana to see how accessible they are… or aren’t, for people with disabilities.

Continue reading about outdoor recreation