UM Research Center Harnesses Funding to Benefit People with Disabilities

October 25, 2016

MISSOULA – The Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana’s Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities has been awarded a five-year, $1.2 million contract with the University of Kansas with funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research.

The contract is part of a larger $4.3 million grant received by the University of Kansas Research and Training Center on Independent Living to promote community participation for adults with physical disabilities. It will fund the new Research and Training Center to Promote Interventions for Community Living, which will focus on modifying home environments and enhancing the personal skills of people with disabilities as a way to increase their community participation.

“We are working to level the playing field so people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to get into the community to pursue their goals,” said project co-director Craig Ravesloot.

The first intervention, called Home Base, will work with clients to improve the usability of their homes. “Community participation begins at home,” said Lillie Greiman, project director at The Rural Institute’s Research and Training Center.

Even small home improvements, like installing grab bars in the bathroom, can give a person more time and energy for community participation, Greiman said. This could mean joining a social group or going to the movies, but also grocery shopping and attending doctor appointments.

For the first two years of the contract, Home Base will partner with two local centers for independent living, Summit Independent Living Center Inc., in Missoula, and the Whole Person, in Kansas City, Missouri, to work with their clients to implement the Home Base intervention. A CIL, is a non-residential nonprofit agency that offers tools, resources and services for people with a variety of disabilities in local communities.

Out and About, the second intervention, will focus on setting community participation goals and problem solving community barrier issues. The two interventions will be refined and tested separately with local CILs for the first two years of the grant, and will then be integrated and tested nationally.

RTC:Rural researchers at the UM Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities work to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities, especially those living in Montana and other rural areas across the country. The institute is part of the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research is a grants making institute of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living. The project is a collaboration with the University of Kansas, and will be co-directed by Craig Ravesloot at UM and Glen W. White at the University of Kansas.

For more information on this project and others, visit http://ruralinstitute.umt.edu/ or http://rtc.ruralinstitute.umt.edu/.

Contact: Tracy Boehm, UM Rural Institute’s Research and Training Center, director of knowledge translation, 406-243-5741, tracy.boehm@mso.umt.edu .