Document Type

State of the Science Report


University of Montana Rural Institute

Publication Date



Demography, Population, and Ecology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


The Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana conducted a state-of-the-science conference on the status of rural disability and rehabilitation from April 17- 20, 2012. The conference was conducted over the Internet, making it accessible for many who might not otherwise have been able to participate. A total of 179 participants in 45 states participated over the four days. Four nationally-acclaimed leaders in rural policy and practice addressed the question, “How do rural community; rural economic development and employment; and rural health overlap with disability and rehabilitation?” Each keynote speaker described his or her philosophy and approach for preserving the heritage of rural America while solving the problems rural Americans face. Each described conceptual models and strategies that might have promise in addressing the issues faced by people with disabilities. Leaders in disability and rural rehabilitation responded to each paper to provide insight on how the models might be used by rural people with disabilities and the agencies that serve them. The full papers, video, and written transcripts are available on the SOS Web site at This document summarizes the major points made by the speakers and their recommendations for research and knowledge translation. First we present the four major recommendations from the conference. These are followed by a synopsis of each of the areas addressed during the conference: Rural America, Rural Community Development, Rural Economic Development and Employment, and Rural Health. Four Primary Recommendations 1. Organize community assets into regional strategies. This involves the search for ways of exploring urban-rural interdependence. 2. Foster entrepreneurial communities that encourage and support the growth of entrepreneurs who can convert community assets into economic opportunity. 3. Build and sustain high-quality modern infrastructure. A community with high quality basic infrastructure attracts more development. 4. Invest in rural institutional capacity. Rural America must invest to assure that adequate human resources, technological support, and institutional systems in the public or nonprofit sectors are in place.


community participation and individual living, state of the science report, rehabilitation, rural, disability


© August 2012 RTC:Rural.

Granting Agency

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research


This research is supported by grant #H133B080023 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Dept. of Education.

Project Number