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    For Inclusive Communities

    Improving the skills, abilities, and quality of life of people with disabilities in rural communities, including their families and those who serve and support them.

    Read more about the Rural Institute
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    We teach how assistive technology helps people live more independently at home, school, work, and in the community.

    We conduct research to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in rural areas. Our research and training activities help improve the economic status and independence of people with disabilities.

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    We develop and evaluate innovative health promotion activities in rural areas. Our goal is to help people with physical or mental limitations learn to “live well and safely” in their own homes and communities.

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    Our Early Childhood programs offer on-going education and training to childcare providers, families, and to teachers of young children with disabilities. We help children and their families achieve greater independence at home and in the community.

    We provide Education and Interdisciplinary Training across the human service and education systems in Montana.

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Promoting the quality of life for people with disabilities in rural communities

UM 72 2Since 1978, the University of Montana Rural Institute has worked to improve the skills, abilities, and quality of life of people with disabilities in rural communities, including their families and those who serve and support them.

For Inclusive Communities

Rural Institute initiatives focus on promoting independence, productivity, integration and community inclusion in rural and frontier communities.
Major activities include:

  1. providing training of personnel who serve and educate individuals with disabilities and their families;
  2. research and evaluation to assist people with disabilities to lead healthy, productive lives in their communities;
  3. community supports and services including training and technical assistance;
  4. dissemination of information to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and their families living in rural areas;
  5. and, leveraging current funding sources by developing and submitting grant and contract applications, and recovering costs associated with the delivery of services.

In all we do, we involve stakeholders as advisors so activities are consumer-responsive, family-focused, and sensitive to the cultural heritage and values of people with disabilities and their families.

Rural Institute - A Year in Review July 2014 to June 2015

Rural Institute Annual Report July 2014 to June 2015Growth and diversity define 2015. We expanded our training, employment, healthy living and aging-related activities, and grew our program serving Montana American Indians. Activities, revenues and staff grew more than 5% from 2014. A significant outcome of this growth has been expanded relationships with state, national and international colleagues with similar interests.

Strong collaborative relationships help us accomplish our consumer-driven mission: “improving the skills, abilities, and quality of life of people with disabilities in rural communities, including their families and those who serve and support them.” The numbers we share are just part of the story. The real story is how our nationally recognized faculty, staff and students are making a positive difference in individual lives across Montana and beyond.

Marty E. Blair, PhD, Executive Director

View Rural Institute A Year in Review PDF

View Rural Institute A Year in Review HTML

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

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Planning Your Transition from Pediatric to Adult Health Care Workbook

transition workbookThis publication is 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.

The revised workbook is available on the Transition and Employment Projects website ( and

Happenings at Rural Institute

Major Programs within the Rural Institute


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