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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.

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"Visit Montana Colleagues" trip report by Marty Blair

Scenery from Marty's Visit Montana's Colleagues trip

trip-odometer-with-miles
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.

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UM Students Helping Montanans with Developmental Disabilities

Megan Murphy University of Montana Pharmacy Student

“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.”

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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 and Dr. Craig Ravesloot

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.”

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