About the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)

NIDILRR's mission:

NIDILRR’s mission is to generate new knowledge and to promote its effective use to improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community, and to expand society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities.

As the federal government’s primary disability research agency, NIDILRR achieves this mission by:

  • providing for research, demonstration, training, technical assistance and related activities to maximize the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities of all ages;
  • promoting the transfer of, use and adoption of rehabilitation technology for individuals with disabilities in a timely manner; and
  • ensuring the widespread distribution, in usable formats, of practical scientific and technological information.

NIDILRR addresses a wide range of disabilities and impairments across populations of all ages.

NIDILRR’s Unique Role

Across NIDILRR’s agenda, the central focus is on the whole person with a disability, whose ability to function and quality of life are dependent on the complex interactions among personal, societal, and environmental factors.

NIDILRR plays a unique role in that its target population includes all disability types and all age groups. While other federal research entities fund prevention, cure, and acute rehabilitation research, NIDILRR also invests in rehabilitation research that is tied more closely to longer-term outcomes, such as independence, community participation, and employment.

Source: National Research Council. Review of Disability and Rehabilitation Research: NIDILRR Grantmaking Processes and Products. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.

NIDILRR Items of Interest

- View NIDILRR Funding Opportunities on Grants.gov.

- NIDILRR is developing a new long-range plan for 2018-2023. View the draft long-range plan.

- NARIC Patron Questions Asked and Answered: Have a disability-related question? See if it has been answered by this wiki developed by NIDILRR-funded National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC).

Disability Resources Used by NARIC Information Specialists may contain some information of interest.

- Sign up for “Stay in the Know,” a monthly disability literature awareness service.

Research in Focus (RIF): A Weekly Digest of New Research from the NIDILRR Community, featuring reader-friendly summaries of the latest research from NIDILRR-funded projects, is produced and maintained by the National Rehabilitation Information Center for NIDILRR. Each installment presents an overview of a recently-published NIDILRR-funded study, highlighting important findings, and discussing implications or directions for future research.

NIDILRR Research in your state—learn what’s happening where you live.

- Learn about NIDILRR Research by Outcome Area: Community Living and Participation | Employment | Health and Function | Technology for Access and Function | Disability Demographics | Knowledge Translation | ADA National Network Centers | Capacity Building for Rehabilitation Research and Training

FY2014 NIDILRR Organizational Highlights (PDF, 4.5 MB)

- National Research Council. Review of Disability and Rehabilitation Research: NIDILRR Grant-making Processes and Products. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012.

NIDILRR Programs

  • Disability and Rehabilitation Research Program (DRRP) - This program funds knowledge translation, building capacity for minority research entities, individual research projects, and other work.
  • Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Program (RERC) - This program funds advanced engineering research and development of innovative technologies to solve rehabilitation problems or remove environmental barriers for people with disabilities.
  • Switzer Research Fellowship Program - This program provides grants for individuals to perform research on rehabilitation, independent living, and other experiences of people with disabilities.
  • Field-Initiated Projects Program Rehabilitation Research (FIP) - This program is investigator-initiated research with projects to generate new knowledge.
  • Model Systems Program - These programs provide coordinated systems of rehabilitation care and conduct research on recovery and long-term outcomes for spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and burn injury.
  • Advanced Rehabilitation Research and Training Program (ARRT) - This program increases capacity for high-quality disability and rehabilitation research by supporting grants to institutions to provide advanced research training to individuals with doctorates or similar advanced degrees.
  • Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Program (RRTC) - These programs conduct advanced research, training, and information sharing on topic areas for improving rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems; improving health and function; and promoting employment, independent living, family support and economic and social self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.
  • Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) - This program supports development of new ideas and projects useful to people with disabilities through grants to small business firms with strong research capabilities in science, engineering, or educational technology.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act National Network - This program funds 10 regional centers for providing information, training, and technical assistance to individuals, businesses, and agencies with rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

NIDILRR Reports and Evaluation

 

NIDILRR’s History

As a result of the Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services, and Developmental Disabilities amendments of 1978 (P.L. 95—602), which amended the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the National Institute on Handicapped Research (NIHR) was created.

NIHR was charged with the prime responsibility of providing the required knowledge for defining needs, and of identifying the means for improving services to individuals with disabilities. NIHR was the result of intense effort by voluntary agencies of and for persons with disabilities, Congress, and the administration of the time.

According to Leclair (1979), the original goal of NIHR was to focus in one agency a strong commitment to carry on a major program of research on all aspects of disability and the attendant socio-economic implications of the problems encountered by individuals with disabilities.

The scope of activities prescribed for NIHR was all encompassing and cut across practically every facet of rehabilitation and habilitation research activities imaginable, with no limitations in terms of type of disability, age, or intended goals. Finally NIHR was created, not to duplicate services but rather to ensure that NIHR could proceed with “full authority if research programs were found inadequate or non-existent in a specific area of concern.

NIHR retained most of the programs originally conducted by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) such as the Rehabilitation Engineering Centers (RECs), the Research and Training Centers (RTC), and the array of discrete psycho-social, vocational, and medical project grants that RSA and its predecessors had been conducting, in one form or other, since 1935.

Some new initiatives and changes that NIHR spear-headed included, but were not limited to:

- Research that improved the rehabilitation and habilitation of children with disabilities as well as older Americans with disabilities;
- Conduct of model research and training centers on innovative programs and techniques for evaluating, training, and placing individuals with disabilities in productive work;
- Conduct of a research program to determine ways to train and retain rehabilitation professionals to serve in rural areas;
- Development and implementation of a public education program, based on research results, to inform the public about the needs, concerns and problems of individuals with disabilities including information relating to family care, self-care, and preventative aspects of rehabilitation and habilitation;
- Establishment of a program to improve the development, evaluation, production, and distribution of technological systems and devices that could improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities;
- Development, in conjunction with other federal agencies, of statistical reports on the employment, health, income, and other demographic characteristics of individuals with disabilities; and
- The conduct of projects by private profit-making organizations, non-profit public entities, as well with universities.

Source: Adapted from Leclair, R. R. (1979). National Institute on Handicapped Research (NIHR): A giant step for expanded rehabilitation research. Bulletin of Prosthetics Research, 10(32), 1–6.

In 1986, again as a result of amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, NIHR would become known as the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Since its initial creation as NIHR in 1978, and its name change and expansion to NIDRR in 1986, NIDRR’s basic purpose and reason for being has not changed much. Expressed using updated terminology to reflect current times, NIDRR’s mission still remains to generate new knowledge and to promote its effective use to improve the abilities of people with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community. NIDRR still sponsors research and development in broad outcome domains of health and function, employment, and participation and community living. And ultimately NIDRR still remains committed to expanding society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities

And now, with the passage of the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, NIDRR has a new home in the Administration for Community Living within the Department of Human Services as well as a new name — the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

NIDILRR Legislation & Policy

The Creation of NIDILRR and Its Legislative Mandate

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) is a federal government agency that came into existence in 1978 within the U.S. Department of Education, and continues to operate today under a federal law known as Title II of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law became part of the United States Code (USC) and NIDILRR’s mandate and mission is described in Title 29, Chapter 16, Subchapter II, Section 762. View the contents of this section of the US Code from U.S. Government Printing Office.

The Basic Business of NIDILRR According to Its Legislative Mandate

The core business of NIDILRR is to award grants and contracts to “states and public or private agencies and organizations, including institutions of higher education, Indian tribes and tribal organizations.” These entities are then supposed to use this money to plan and conduct research, demonstration projects, training and related activities designed to:

- Develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology, that maximize the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most significant disabilities; and

- Improve the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation and other rehabilitation services. Source: 29 USC Section 764.

The Rules that Help Translate the Intent of the Law Into Agency Operating Guidelines

The Code of Federal Regulations (known as CFR) are the rules that help translate the intent of a Law into broad agency operating guidelines. With its move to the Administration for Community Living within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) consolidated its Code of Federal Regulations in one place. This new place is 45 CFR Part 1330. Read about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Final Rule that created these new regulations.

NIDILRR's Long-Range Plan

The legislative requirements governing NIDILRRs Long Range plan are described in 29 U.S.C. 762(h). Read NIDILRR's current Long-Range Plan for Fiscal Years 2013-2017.

NIDILRR is developing a new long-range plan for the period 2018-2023. View the draft long-range plan.

NIDILRR Leadership and Staff

NIDILRR Leadership

Kristi Hill, Acting Director

Ruth Brannon, Director Office of Research Sciences

Phillip Beatty, Associate Director Office of Research Sciences

Timothy Muzzio, Director Office of Research Evaluation and Administration

NIDILRR Staff

For administrative purposes, staff at NIDILRR are members of one of the three offices: The Office of Director, The Office of Research Sciences, and the Office of Research Evaluation and Administration. However, the day-to-day functioning at NIDILRR depicts a much closer knit reality where staff members from within and across offices work together to achieve agency-driven goals and objectives.

Contact NIDILRR

By Email

Send an email to nidilrr-mailbox@acl.hhs.gov and we will make sure your message reaches the appropriate NIDILRR staff person(s) to address it.

By Mail

National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research
Administration for Community Living
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
330 C Street SW, Room 1304
Washington, DC 20201

By Phone or Fax

Call Raina McDowell at 202-795-7398. Our fax number is 202-205-0392.

In-Person

All visits to our physical location must be previously arranged with NIDILRR. If you’re interested in arranging an in-person visit, contact Raina McDowell at 202-795-7398 or raina.mcdowell@acl.hhs.gov. She will work with you to help set-up your in-person visit.

National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research
Administration for Community Living
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
330 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20230

 


Last modified on 06/16/2017