The NIDILRR Program Directory: Introduction

Below is the introduction printed in the hard copy version of the directory. See the publications list for information on downloading the Directory.

Produced by the
National Rehabilitation Information Center
Landover, MD

Mark X. Odum

Jessica H. Chaiken
Media and Public Education Manager

Catherine E. Graves and Marta P. Garcia
Media and Information Specialists


NIDILRR's Mission

The mission of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) is to generate new knowledge and promote its effective use to improve the abilities of people with disabilities to participate in community activities of their choice, and also to enhance society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for its citizens with disabilities. NIDILRR funds comprehensive and coordinated programs of research and related activities to assist in the achievement of the full inclusion, social integration, employment, and independent living of individuals of all ages, with all types and degrees of disability including low-incidence disability.

With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in July, 2014, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) was renamed to the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) and moved from the Department of Education to the Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services.

This edition of the NIDILRR Program Directory lists all projects funded by NIDILRR during the 2016 fiscal year.

NIDILRR’s Research Programs/Funding Mechanisms

NIDILRR is committed to maintaining its focus on practical application of research and development; knowledge translation; and capacity building as strategic areas to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. Under the 2013-2017 Long Range Plan, NIDILRR supports a wide range of research, development, and other related activities aimed at improving long-term outcomes in health and function, employment, and community living and participation, NIDILRR’s Long Range Plan for 2013-2017 was published in the Federal Register in April 2013. To download a copy, go to

The majority of NIDILRR grantees are universities or organizations of rehabilitation or related services. NIDILRR makes awards through several program mechanisms including ADA National Network Projects, Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Projects, Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects, Mary E. Switzer Research Fellowships, Model Systems, NIDILRR Contracts, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers, Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers, and Small Business Innovation Research. Program descriptions are provided below.

ADA National Network Projects

NIDILRR funds the ADA National Network to provide information, training, and technical assistance related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to any persons or entities that have rights and responsibilities under the ADA, as well as conducting ADA-related research. Presently, ten ADA regional centers and one ADA collaborative research center are funded under this program. Beginning in 2011, NIDILRR also funded an ADA Network Knowledge Translation (ADA KT) Center to support knowledge translation activities of all ADA National Network centers.

Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Projects

The Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) Program provides research training and experience at an advanced level to individuals with doctorates, or similar advanced degrees, who have clinical or other relevant experience. ARRT projects provide training to rehabilitation researchers, including researchers with disabilities, with particular attention to research areas that support the implementation and objectives of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Act.

Grants are made to institutions to recruit qualified persons who will receive a training program that includes didactic and classroom instruction, is multidisciplinary, emphasizes scientific research methodology, and may involve collaboration among institutions.

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects

The Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) program funds projects that include a range of activities including research, demonstration, training, knowledge translation, and technical assistance. These projects may develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology to assist in achieving 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, or to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act.

Mary E. Switzer Research Fellowships

The Research Fellowships, named for the late Mary E. Switzer, give individual researchers the opportunity to develop new ideas and gain research experience. There are two levels of fellowships: Distinguished Fellowships and Merit Fellowships. Distinguished Fellowships go to individuals who have seven or more years of research experience in subject areas, methods, or techniques relevant to rehabilitation research. The individuals must have a doctorate, other terminal degree, or comparable academic qualifications. Merit Fellowships are given to individuals who have either advanced professional training or independent study experience in an area directly pertinent to disability and rehabilitation but who do not meet the qualifications for Distinguished, usually because they are in earlier stages of their careers. Both fellowship levels support one year of independent research activities. 

Model Systems

NIDILRR administers Model Systems programs for persons with spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. The Model Systems establish innovative projects for the delivery, demonstration, and evaluation of comprehensive medical, vocational, and other rehabilitation services. The work of the Model Systems begins at the point of injury and ends with successful re-entry into full community life. These projects collect and contribute data on patient characteristics, diagnoses, causes of injury, interventions, outcomes, and costs to a uniform national database; conduct research, both independently and collaboratively with other Model System centers; and coordinate research efforts with other related grant recipients. Beginning in 2006, NIDILRR funded a Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) to support knowledge translation activities of all three Model Systems.

NIDILRR Contracts

Through its contracts, NIDILRR seeks improved methods, systems, products, and practices to enhance its work. The contracts are for specific activities related to management, research, evaluation, and information dissemination.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) conduct programs of advanced research of an engineering or technical nature designed to apply advanced technology, scientific achievement, and psychological and social knowledge to solve rehabilitation problems and remove environmental barriers. Each center is affiliated with one or more institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations. Involved at both the individual and systems levels, RERCs seek to find and evaluate the newest technologies, products, and methods that ultimately can benefit the independence of persons with disabilities. The work of the RERCs also includes the universal design of environments for all people of all ages. The centers also exchange technical and engineering information worldwide and engage in technology transfer activities to maximize the use of new technology to produce end-user products, both commercialized and non-commercialized, and make them readily available for public consumption. Since 2008, NIDILRR has funded the Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT) Center to assist RERC grantees in their technology transfer efforts.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

NIDILRR’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) conduct advanced, coordinated, and integrated programs of research targeted toward the production of new knowledge, which may improve rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems, alleviate or stabilize disabling conditions, or promote maximum social and economic independence for persons with disabilities. Operated in collaboration with institutions of higher education or providers of rehabilitation or other appropriate services, RRTCs serve as centers of national excellence in rehabilitation research. Also, they are national or regional resources for research-based information for individuals with disabilities and the parents, family members, guardians, advocates, or authorized representatives of the individuals. These centers also conduct related training programs, including graduate, pre-service and in-service training. The centers also disseminate and promote the utilization of research findings.

Small Business Innovation Research

The purpose of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, strengthen the role of small business in meeting Federal research or research and development needs, increase the commercial application of Federally-supported research results, and improve the return on investment from Federally-funded research for economic and social benefits to the Nation. SBIR grants at NIDILRR help support the production of new assistive and rehabilitation technology. NIDILRR supports Phase I and Phase II SBIR projects. Phase I grants support research that will contribute to proving the scientific or technical feasibility of the approach, concept, or product identified in the proposal. Phase II grants expand on the results of Phase I projects, allowing these businesses to pursue further development and to begin to explore the potential for commercialization.

Active grants awarded prior to October 2014 will include grant numbers as assigned by both the Department of Education and the Administration for Community Living. Grants awarded after October 2014 will only include the ACL-assigned grant number.

NARIC and the NIDILRR Program Directory

The Program Directory is compiled by the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC). NARIC functions as a specialized library, providing the public with disability and rehabilitation-related information and services to help locate those materials and resources. Since 1977, NARIC has been the primary source of rehabilitation and disability information about, and information generated by, NIDILRR-funded projects.

NARIC also produces REHABDATA, an index of disability and rehabilitation literature produced by NIDILRR grantees as well as commercial publishers. Grantees submit copies of NIDILRR-supported research products to NARIC and they are added to the reference collection and REHABDATA database. Information about holdings is available online at Neither NARIC nor NIDILRR assumes liability for the Directory’s contents or the use thereof. NARIC does not evaluate or certify the programs or products of the organizations listed in the Directory.

This Directory is not intended for use as a fiscal document to show how NIDILRR funds are allocated; its purpose is to display the range of programs that NIDILRR supports. This listing is current as of December 31, 2016. The directory includes some projects that will be officially complete by the directory’s publication date.

NARIC operates under Administration for Community Living contract GS-06F-0726Z.

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