Services

Assistive technology specialist  helping a customer with special needs

The Rural Institute is proud to provide the following services to our community.

 

CURRENT SERVICE PROJECTS

Technology, support, and services to improve quality of life

MonTECH provides free, confidential information about assistive technology (AT) devices and services. AT is any item, equipment, software, or product used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. 

MonTECH ensures that Montanans have access to AT devices and services to enhance their independence, productivity, and quality of life. Program staff work with consumers, service providers, educators, therapists, state agencies, private industry, researchers, legislators, and other interested individuals.

Contact:     Molly Kimmel

Facilitates low-interest loans for assistive technology

The Montana Assistive Technology Loan program, or MATL, loans money for assistive technology (AT) to Montanans of all ages, income levels and disabilities. Loans up to $1,500 have 0% interest and loans between $1,500 and $50,000 have a fixed interest rate of 3.5%. Assistive technology that can be purchased with MATL funds include, but is not limited to:

  • Hearing aids
  • Environmental control
  • Vision aids
  • Vehicles and vehicle adaptation
  • Aids for daily living
  • Prosthetics / Orthotics
  • Communication devices
  • Switches

MATL is a partnership with Rural Dynamics, Inc. Loan applicants also qualify for financial services such as debt management assistance and financial coaching.

Contact:     Molly Kimmel

Making biking more accessible across Montana

Montanans who struggle to ride a traditional bike can still cycle in Big Sky Country, thanks to MonTECH's Wheels Across Montana (WAM). Through a Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grant, trikes, helmets, stationary stands and bike locks were purchased and distributed to five community partners around the state.

WAM trikes are housed in Billings, Missoula, Fort Peck, Dillon, and Helena. Trikes come in multiple sizes to meet the needs of all ages. There are hand cycles, tandems, recumbents, and a sturdy style featuring pedal straps and trunk support.  Request a trike through MonTECH's website. 

Contact:     Molly Kimmel

Building accessible kayak and canoe launches

MonTECH is partnering with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to expand adaptive recreation access to Montana lakes. The Floating Across Montana (FAM) program will add accessible kayak and canoe launches to existing docks in five Montana communities.

Contact:     Molly Kimmel

Supplying adaptive recreation equipment

This grant reinforced the Montana Access to Outdoor Recreation (MATOR) project funded in 2012. Much of the assistive technology and adaptive equipment purchased through MATOR needed to be updated. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund Grant funded the purchase of adaptive recreation equipment providing Montanans with disabilities better access to the outdoors.

Contact:     Molly Kimmel

Provides family-focused healthcare information

In 2019, the Rural Institute opened the Montana Family to Family Health Information Center (MT F2F). The MT F2F improves services, supports and outcomes for people with disabilities and their families.

The family-led MT F2F improves access to evidence-based health information so parents of children and youth with complex health needs and medical providers can make informed choices. The MT F2F also:

  • Provides family-to-family and peer-to-peer support
  • Connects families to community resources
  • Offers family training to help negotiate the healthcare system
  • Trains healthcare professionals to better understand needs of children with special health care needs

Contact:     Jennifer Banna

Representing families in the system of care in partnership with Children Special Health Services  

Children Special Health Services within the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS)  is providing a family delegate to partner with the Montana Family to Family Health Information Center. The Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP) Family Delegate communicates with families, stakeholders, and Title V programs on health care policies and programs.

Contact:     Jennifer Banna

Transition-to-adulthood health resources for youth, families and providers

This project supports children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) to transition successfully into adulthood. Activities include:

  • Disseminating transition-related information
  • Maintaining a health care transition guide for families and youth
  • Developing and disseminating decision-making support resources and tools
  • Providing distance trainings on topics related to the transition needs of CYSHCN

Transition, Employment, and Alternatives to Guardianship resources are shared on the Transition and Employment Project website.

Contact:     Kim Brown

montana disability and health program logo

Promotes health-related policy and practice initiatives 

The Montana Disability and Health (MTDH) Program is a partnership of the Department of Public Health and Human Services (MDPHHS) and Rural Institute. MTDH collaborates with community partners, people with disabilities, nationally recognized experts, and resource centers.

MTDH develops and implements programs and services designed to:

  • Enhance program infrastructure and capacity
  • Improve state level surveillance and monitoring activities
  • Increase awareness of health-related disability policy initiatives
  • Increase health promotion opportunities for people with disabilities to maximize health
  • Improve access to health care for people with disabilities
  • Improve emergency preparedness among people with disabilities
  • Effectively monitor and evaluate program activities

Contact:     Meg Traci

Autism resources for families and providers

The Montana Autism Center provides information to Montanans diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their families, and those who serve and support them. 

The Montana Autism Center is a collaboration with the Montana Family to Family Health Information Center and the Act Early Ambassador Program. (Act Early is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Contact:     Jennifer Banna

Promoting early identification of developmental disabilities

The Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Learn the Signs. Act Early (LTSAE) program improves early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities so children and families can get the services and support they need.

Act Early Montana helps parents and providers learn the signs of healthy child development, monitor early development, and act when there is a concern.

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly

Promoting data equity

The Rural Institute is supporting the development of a national disability data network. DisDATA (Disability Data Advocates Taking Action) promotes disability data equity. DisDATA members include disabled people, service providers, researchers, activists, and advocates. Members advocate for equity via the representation of disabled people at all levels of data collection.

DisDATA promotes including disability-led organizations, disabled researchers, and disability advocates in data decision making. DisDATA also hopes to connect people across shared data needs, interests and actions. We want to bridge the data divides between research, lived experience, policy development and advocacy.

Contact:     Lillie Greiman