RTC:Rural Director to present on importance of administrative data to rural research

January 31, 2019

On February 22, 2019, RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine Ipsen will travel to Washington D.C. to present as part of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)’s Administrative Data and Employment Research Review. Dr. Ipsen will be giving a presentation on Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) data, titled “Using RSA-911 Data to Frame and Inform Rural Research.” RSA-911 is the national data collection system used by the RSA to monitor vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs and identify successful practices.

Dr. Ipsen was invited to share how RTC:Rural has and continues to use federal data, including RSA-911 data, to inform research direction, identify gaps in knowledge, and to create solutions that are relevant to people with disabilities in rural communities.

National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation ResearchOne example of this is the Comparing Rural/Urban Vocational Rehabilitation Service Delivery project, which ran from 2008-2013. Prior to this, RSA-911 case data did not include geographic markers, which meant that analyses of this data did not represent any regional or rural/urban differences in service delivery. It is important to have this geographic data to prevent a bias towards urban strategies.

Once this database was compiled, RTC:Rural researchers were able to determine that there were several significant differences in case closures between urban and rural VR agencies. Find links to publications about these discrepancies on the Comparing Rural/Urban Vocational Rehabilitation Service Delivery project page.

These discrepancies have directed and informed RTC:Rural’s Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation research since then. These projects include:

Premature Exit from VR Services

  • This project explored reasons consumers left the VR system before completing services. Premature exit is costly for both VR agencies and clients, and by better understanding the reasons for early exit, we can help develop strategies to reduce consumer drop out rates.

Rural Self-Employment

  • Self-employment is an important option for people with disabilities, especially in rural areas. However, VR closures to self-employment are low. Previous RTC:Rural research explores reasons why.
  • To help VR counselors and consumers understand the self-employment process, we developed the VR Self-Employment Guide, a self-directed, multi-media website.
  • We are also currently working with partners from the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Services to create, pilot, and evaluate a culturally appropriate translation for use within the tribal VR system.