On Wednesday, June 22nd the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities discussed how they build evidence-based interventions supporting the purposes of the Rehabilitation Act and NIDRR’s Long Range Plan in their presentation “Disability in Rural Communities: Designing Research for Impact.”
Divided into five sections, the presentation by Dr. Tom Seekins, Dr. Nancy Arnold, Dr. Catherine Ipsen, and Dr. Craig Ravesloot began with an introduction to rural America and rural research, which included the importance of and effective approaches of conducting disability research in rural areas. Dr. Seekins presented an overview of previous research by the RuralRTC and the impact of the products and evidence-based practices they implemented, as well as the economic benefits these programs achieved.
Dr. Arnold and Dr. Ipsen discussed rural employment and economic development in rural communities as it relates to people with disabilities. They discussed the unique issues of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities (or lack thereof) in rural areas. Additionally, they discussed the commonly used intervention in rural vocational rehabilitation of self-employment to produce positive employment outcomes/opportunities. Information on components of the RRTC research activities—state VR data and use of telerehabilitation—was presented. The qualitative and quantitative data from agencies, counselors, and consumers is helpful in understanding why some employment outcome practices may or may not be a good fit in rural areas. Also presented is the use of telerehabilitation (rehab services provided by phone, videochat, and Internet) to provide better vocational rehabilitation services to consumers and address the underlying issues such as staffing, transportation, and case load management. According to RuralRTC survey data, 64 percent of consumers were “o.k.” with services being implemented and applied differently compared to those provided in urban areas.
More to follow!