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 2017 fiscal year.

NIDILRR’s Research Programs/Funding Mechanisms

NIDILRR is committed to maintaining its focus on 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, technical assistance, and related activities, including international activities. 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 Program builds research capacity by providing one-year support to highly qualified individuals, including those who are individuals with disabilities, to conduct original research in the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities. The program provides two categories of research fellowships: Merit Fellowships and Distinguished Fellowships. Merit Fellowships are awarded to individuals who are in the earlier stages of their career in research and have either advanced professional training or experience in independent study in an area which is directly pertinent to disability and rehabilitation. Distinguished Fellowships are awarded to individuals who have seven or more years of research experience in subject areas, methods, or techniques relevant to research on rehabilitation, independent living, and other experiences and outcomes of individuals with disabilities, and must have a doctorate, other terminal degree, or comparable academic qualifications. Institutions are not eligible to be recipients of Switzer research fellowships.

Model Systems

NIDILRR administers Model Systems programs for persons with burn injuries (BI), spinal cord injuries (SCI), and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The Model Systems establish innovative projects for the delivery, demonstration, and evaluation of comprehensive medical, vocational, and other rehabilitation services in those three injury areas. 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 longitudinal data on the the individuals’ demographics, diagnoses, causes of injury, interventions, outcomes, and costs, to the Model Systems National Databases housed at the NIDILRR-funded Burn, SCI, and TBI National Data and Statistical Centers. The Model Systems projects also conduct research, both independently and collaboratively with other Model System centers as well as 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

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) engage in the systematic application of engineering sciences to design, develop, adapt, test, evaluate, apply, and distribute technological solutions to problems confronted by individuals with disabilities in functional areas such as mobility, communications, hearing, vision, and cognition, and in activities associated with employment, independent living, education, and integration into the community. RERCs may focus their efforts at the individual level such as developing assistive technology devices that enhance the physical, sensory, and cognitive abilities of individuals with disabilities. RERCs may also focus on the systems level such as mitigating or eliminating barriers found in large social systems in the areas of public transportation, telecommunications, information technology, and the built environment. RERCs conduct research and development that lead to the transfer of technology into commercialized or non-commercialized products that can be readily accessed and used to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. 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

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) programs conduct coordinated, integrated, and advanced programs of research, training, and information dissemination in topical areas that are specified by NIDILRR. RRTCs conduct research to improve rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems; improve health and functioning; and promote employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities. They also provide training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-service training, to assist rehabilitation personnel to more effectively provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities. RRTCs serve as centers of national excellence in rehabilitation research for providers and for individuals with disabilities and their representatives.

Small Business Innovation Research

The purpose of NIDILRR’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program is to help support the development of new ideas and projects that are useful to persons with disabilities by inviting the participation of small business firms with strong research capabilities in science, engineering, or educational technology. Small businesses must meet certain criteria to participate: The company must be American-owned and independently operated, for-profit, employ no more than 500 employees, and the principal researcher must be employed by the business. NIDILRR supports Phase I and Phase II projects. During Phase I, NIDILRR funds firms to conduct feasibility studies to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of an idea. During Phase II, NIDILRR-funded firms expand on the results of Phase I to pursue further development and to begin to explore the potential for commercialization.

Grant Numbers

Active grants originally awarded before 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 have 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 29, 2017. 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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