Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schatteman, Alicia

Degree Name

B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)

Legacy Department

Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies


Individuals with disabilities often face unique challenges not experienced by the general population. These circumstances are further exacerbated in rural communities where health care equity is disrupted by a lack of access to transportation resources to health care providers and economic hardships. The COVID-19 pandemic further amplified these inequities, creating new barriers in rural regions, to health access and health information, by demanding virtual access in place of physical access, requiring individuals to own, afford, and knowledgeably operate technology. This case study explores methodologies employed by three nonprofit Centers for Independent Living (CIL) agencies assisting people with disabilities, in rural central Illinois, in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine. Current research demographics on health care access gaps divide populations by geographic region, ethnicity, income, and sex leaving out communities encompassing the shared experience of living with a disability. Using methods of literature review, structured interviews with three CILs, structured interviews with CIL support agencies, and statistical data from government resources, health care access gaps in rural central Illinois were identified and strategies to mitigate these gaps were discovered. CILs used old methods in new ways to close gaps created by the pandemic for their consumers. These methods continued to align with the five core competencies of CILs, ensuring support through knowledge and access, independent health care choices for consumers. CILs implemented individual phone calls, social media campaigns, virtual health programs, and on-site clinics to connect consumers to the COVID-19 vaccine. These methods enabled full service in the face of changing pandemic environments.


32 pages




Northern Illinois University

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