RTC/CL Happenings, Fall 2015

Building Capacity: New Researchers Achieve Milestones

Congratulations to Jeff Gordon on successfully defending his dissertation.  Glen White is his doctoral program advisor and director of the RTC/CL. The title of Gordon's dissertation is "Pilot Testing an Online and Face-to-Face Self-Advocacy Skills Training Program for Negotiating ADA Classroom Accommodations."

For this single-subject, multiple baseline study, he pilot tested the Access to Success self-advocacy skills training program, which was created by an earlier RTC/IL research project on an earlier RTC/IL research project, ADA accommodations training.

Marren Leon-Barajas has won the inaugural Community Living Research Award from the University of Kansas (KU) Research and Training Center on Independent Living (RTC/IL). Her proposed study will help individuals with intellectual disabilities who are overweight achieve two goals: to exercise more often and to increase their community participation while engaged in these weight loss activities.

The purpose of the one-year, $2,000 award is to develop and use applied behavioral research to increase community participation for people with disabilities. Leon-Barajas is a graduate student in KU’s Behavioral Psychology program. She will work with three to five people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). 

Disability Advocates Are KU Women of Distinction

The University of Kansas recognized Jean Ann Summers, Martha Hodgesmith, and KU alumnae Ranita Wilks and Katerina Birge as Women of Distinction at an Aug. ceremony. Their photo appears on the 2015-16 calendar.

Birge is a graduate student at the University of Colorado in Public Administration and was a leader in founding AbleHawks, KU’s student advocacy group. Hodgesmith is our Center’s Associate Director and Summers is Research Director. Wilks is Peer Counseling Specialist and Youth Employment Program Coordinator for Independence, Inc., the center for independent living in Lawrence.

CHEC Draws Interest from CMS

Glen White and Jessica Dashner presented information on the Community Health Environment Checklist (CHEC) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of a “Listening Session on Adding Accessibility Information to Physician Compare.” The presentation and nationwide teleconference were hosted by the Administration on Community Living (ACL) on Nov. 12, 2015.

The CHEC is a tool to assess the usability of community sites, with a special version for medical offices. The CHEC presentation focused on possibilities for including elements of physical accessibility as part of Physician Compare, which is a national resource tool that helps individuals make more informed provider choices.

Symposium Focuses on Research Opportunities

Kathy Greenlee, Administrator of the Administration on Community Living and Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gave the keynote address at a Nov. 9 symposium hosted by the new Work Group on Community Living (WGCL). The RTC on Community Living and three other University of Kansas centers formed the new research group. About 80 people attended the invited symposium at KU titled “Experience of Aging for People with Long-Term Disabilities: Opportunities to Further Research,” including researchers, advocates and thought-leaders in the disability and aging fields.

Honoring David Gray

Our late colleague David B. Gray, PhD, received the legacy of Excellence Award at Paraquads 2015 Shine the Light Awards (Washington University) in Nov. He also was recently honored with the Fostering Understanding award by the Starkloff Disability Institute at the 2015 Open Door Awards in Oct. In April, Gray posthumously received Washington University’s Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award, and was honored at a symposium on May 22.

Partners Receive New Grants

Andrew Houtenville has been awarded a five-year, $4.3 million grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). This is a five year renewal of the grant titled the Employment Policy & Measurement Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (EPM-RRTC), which works towards improving knowledge about and access to existing disability data, and generating the knowledge needed to improve future disability data collection and dissemination.

Craig Ravesloot and colleagues at the RTC: Rural in Montana received a $2.5 million Disability and Rehabilitation Research Program (DRRP) grant from NIDILRR to develop two multi-media products that community-based agencies can use to deliver state-of-the-art health promotion services to people with disabilities living in the community. The first product, Multi-Media Living Well with a Disability, will be based on the 4th edition of the Living Well with a Disability curriculum that they have developed and implemented over the past 25 years. The second product, Motivation for Self-Management, will be a new multi-media health promotion module based on Self-Determination Theory that increases consumer motivation and confidence for engaging in self-management.

Glen White will direct research projects conducted by E Alice Zhang and Kelsey Shinnick with support from a $25,500 GE Research Grant. The grant is part of the KU Dole Institute of Politics’ 2015 “commemorateADA” initiative.  Shinnick’s project is titled “Examining Evidence-based Strategies to Reduce ADA Access Aisle Parking Violations.” Zhang will update the RTC/IL’s advocacy resources with “Development of an Evidence-Based Updated Advocacy Letter Training Package.” Read more about the new research projects at KU News.


Glen White contributed a chapter titled "Wheels on the Ground: Lessons Learned and Lessons to Learn" to the book Disability and Disaster: Explorations and Exchanges. Published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015, the text is edited by Ilan Kelman and Laura M. Stough.

Amanda Reichard is lead author of Diagnosis isn't enough: Understanding the connections between high health care utilization, chronic conditions and disabilities among U.S. working age adults, which appears in Disability and Health Journal, Volume 8, Issue 4, October 2015, Pages 535–546. 

Lillie Greiman and Craig Ravesloot published “Housing characteristics of households with wheeled mobility device users from the American Housing Survey: do people live in homes that facilitate community participation?” in Community Development, published online Nov. 19, 2015.

Christina Holt is lead author of The Community Tool Box, a Comprehensive Tool and a Sample of What You Will Find There: Community Assessment Methods – Conducting a SWOT Analysis” in Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 6(1), published June 2015.

Fabricio Balcazar is lead author of “An Empowerment Model of Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities in the United States” in Journal of Psychosocial Intervention, published Aug. 2014. 


Christina Holt presented “Using the Community Tool Box to Support Citizen Engagement for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals” at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in July as part of the Side Event of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals.

Charles Drum gave an invited presentation on “Disability and health: Definitions, determinants, and disparities” at the 2015 Translational Health Disparities Course, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, held by the National Institutes of Health in August.

Jean Ann Summers and Aruna Subramaniam presented “Health Access for Independent Living: Promoting Equal Rights for Health Access for Persons with Physical Disabilities” at the Southwest Conference on Disability in October.

Center researchers presented the following at the annual conference of the Association of Programs for Independent Living (APRIL) in Virginia Beach in Oct.

  • Dot Nary – “What’s Health Got to Do with It? Creating a Program for Delivery through CILs.”
  • Tom Seekins, Charles Drum, Sara Rainer, Andrew Meyers and Lillie Greiman – “Strategies for Increasing Community Participation: Addressing Barriers at Home and in the Community.”
  • Tom Seekins, Dot Nary and Tannis Hargrove – “Rural Community Participation Results.”

Glen White, E Zhang and Kelsey Shinnick presented their research on parking accessibility at a meeting of the Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns in November.

Dot Nary has made presentations about disability issues and policies to students in other disciplines this fall. She spoke to KU Social Welfare graduate students in the courses “Social Work in Health and Mental Health Settings” and “Social Policy and Program Analysis” in November. In October, she presented to undergrad students in a Health Care Professions class at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Center researchers presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual conference in November. Glen White delivered a session on “Training Peruvian Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Staff to Prevent Secondary Health Conditions in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury.”

     These partners presented posters:

     Amanda Reichard, Charles Drum and other University of New Hampshire colleagues also presented an online program for the APHA conference on Understanding the Connection Between Heavy Health Care Users with and without Disabilities and Timely Receipt of Necessary Care. The audio is available to registered users.

Technical Assistance and Contributions

Amanda Reichard received and completed an Interagency Personnel Agreement (IPA) with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to examine high utilizers of health care services.  This included, in part, the role of multiple chronic conditions.

Charles Drum is a Non-Federal Participant on the Interagency Committee on Disability Research, Health and Wellness Work Group.

Martha Hodgesmith met with New Hampshire state vocational rehabilitation staff, employment service providers and researchers as a part of a United Health Care grant called the Employment Systems Change Coalition (ESCC) in October. She gathered information on innovative employment services for persons with disabilities in New Hampshire, which will be one of five exemplar states highlighted in a report on options for improving Kansas employment systems. The ESSC will present the report to United Health Care in 2016. 

ADA 25 Roundup

As 2015 comes to an end, we continue to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and look forward to ongoing progress through ongoing advocacy and resource development.

At KU, Center staff spoke at a number of ADA celebrations. Martha Hodgesmith spoke at the KU Dole Institute of Politics observation, which included an exhibit. Dot Nary spoike at the Lawrence, KS event (listen to the audio at KPR), was Nary was also nterviewed by KJZZ in Arizona and was featured in a Washington Post story, "Woman in wheelchair who fought for Disabilities Act can’t use tour bus." Glen White and Nary were also panelists in KU Disability Studies Seminar session on “The ADA at 25” in September.

We wish you all health and happiness in the coming year!