People with Disabilities
The rural population of people with disabilities will vary depending on how you define disability and how you define rural. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009-2011 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates nearly 10 million people in the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population have disabilities.
Independent living is the belief that people with disabilities should have the same civil rights, options, and control over choices in their own lives as people without disabilities. This approach focuses on changing society and communities so they better meet the needs of the people who live there. The independent living movement puts decision making in the hands of the individual, rather than a medical or service provider.
For more information about independent living, you may want to contact the National Council on Independent Living and the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living. To find an independent living center in your state, please see the Independent Living Research Utilization's Directory of Centers and State Independent Living Councils.
The Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Waiver Program, section 1915(c) of the Social Security Act (the Act) is the Medicaid program alternative to providing long-term care in institutional settings. The 1915(c) waivers are options available to states allowing the provision of long term care services in home and community based settings. States can offer a variety of services under an HCBS Waiver program. Programs may provide a combination of standard medical services and non-medical services. Standard services include but are not limited to: case management, homemaker, home health aide, personal care, adult day health services, habilitation (both day and residential), and respite care. States can also propose other types of services that may assist in diverting and/or transitioning individuals from institutional settings into their homes and community. To find out what is available in your state, see Medicaid.gov: Waivers.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), child care providers, including small, home-based centers, are required to provide children with disabilities and their parents with an equal opportunity to participate in the child care center's programs and services. For more information, please see the U.S. Department of Justice's Commonly Asked Questions About Child Care Centers and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The ALLIANCE National Parent Technical Assistance Center Network is an innovative partnership of one national and six regional parent technical assistance centers, each funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). This national organization helps Parent Centers - Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) - in each state provide training and information to parents of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities and to professionals who work with them. See their directory for regional Parent Center contact information.
Also, the Parent to Parent - USA is a national non-profit organization committed to assuring access and quality in Parent to Parent support across the country. This site highlights statewide organizations that have parent to parent support as a core program and are committed to implementing evidence-based practices. Also, the National Respite Locator Service helps parents, caregivers, and professionals find respite services in their state and local area to match their specific needs. For additional resources specific to your state see RAC’s State Resources.
Teacher retention is a challenge in rural communities, and it can be particularly difficult to attract and keep special education teachers. Some things that may improve teacher retention in rural areas include providing support to new teachers, offering higher salaries, and developing local talent. For more information about rural teacher recruitment and retention, see Recruiting and Retaining High-Quality Teachers in Rural Areas.
Rural schools may also find it more difficult to pay for assistive technology. The school budget does not need to be the only source of funding for providing needed equipment. Other funding possibilities include vocational rehabilitation, the state department of education, local civic organizations and local businesses. Another option to consider is finding sources to borrow special materials or technology. Contact your state department of education to find out if a lending service is available in your area.
People with disabilities can get training to enter or return to the workforce from vocational rehabilitation providers. Services include training and services to return to work, to enter a new line of work or to enter the workforce for the first time.
The Your Ticket to Work program is an employment program for people with disabilities who are interested in going to work. The Ticket Program is part of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999, legislation designed to remove many of the barriers that previously influenced people's decisions about going to work because of the concerns over losing health care coverage. The goal of the Ticket Program is to increase opportunities and choices for Social Security disability beneficiaries to obtain employment, vocational rehabilitation, and other support services from public and private providers, employers, and other organizations.
SSI and Social Security Disability beneficiaries between the ages of 18-64 may be eligible for a Ticket. To use your Ticket, take it to an Employment Network. The Employment Networks are private organizations or public agencies, that have agreed to work with Social Security to provide services under this program.
The National AgrAbility Project assists people with disabilities employed in agriculture. This project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and consists of a National Project and State/Regional Projects, each involving collaborative partnerships between land grant universities and various nonprofit disability services organizations. Assistance is available to people working on small and large operations. The National Agrability Project website provides a directory of state AgrAbility Contacts. For resources specific to your state see RAC’s State Guides.
Access to transportation is a major issue for people with disabilities living in rural areas. Some options that can increase transit options for people with disabilities include flexroutes, which allow for fixed transit routes to add on additional stops as needed, and voucher programs, which allow riders to decide who drives them, where and when. Easter Seals' Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation in Our Nation) promotes cooperation between the transportation industry and the disability community to increase mobility for people with disabilities under the ADA and beyond. They offer numerous resources, as well as training and technical assistance, in an effort to make the ADA work for everyone.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages the Section 811 Supportive Housing Program for Persons with Disabilities program, which provides funding to nonprofit organizations to develop rental housing with the availability of supportive services for very low-income adults with disabilities, and provides rent subsidies for the projects to help make them affordable.
The USDA/Rural Housing Service (RHS) offers several programs that may help rural people with disabilities, including the Rural Housing Repair and Rehabilitation Loan and Grant Program, which provides funds to modify homes for accessibility, the Rural Rental Housing Program, which provides direct mortgage loans for the development of congregate housing or group homes for persons with disabilities and the Rental Assistance program, which provides an additional source of support for households with incomes too low to pay the RHS subsidized rent from their own resources. Program descriptions are available on the RHS site. For application information, contact your state USDA Rural Development office.
For more information about housing issues, see the Housing Assistance Council's Housing for Persons with Disabilities in Rural Areas.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to all businesses with 15 or more employees. Rural businesses within fewer than 15 employees may want to voluntarily address the spirit of the ADA. Employers covered by the ADA must make sure that people with disabilities:
The ADA limits the kinds of medical information employers can request from job applicants or employees and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. For more information, see Americans with Disabilities Act: A Primer for Small Business from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Local governments cannot discriminate on the basis of disability for services, programs, activities or benefits offered to the public and must use the most integrated setting appropriate. They are required to ensure that communications with people with disabilities are as effective as communication with others. Municipalities are required to meet or exceed the requirements of ADA design standards when they alter existing facilities or build new ones. Local governments with fewer than 50 employees should meet these simplified requirements:
Last Reviewed: 10/10/2013