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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 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.

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 (ACL) at the Department of Health and Human Services.

This edition of the NIDILRR Program Directory lists all projects funded by NIDILRR during the 2019 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 2018-2023 Long Range Plan, NIDILRR supports a wide range of research, development, and other related activities aimed at improving outcomes in three major domains of health and function, employment, and community living and participation. NIDILRR also supports research, development, and other related activities in three areas that support outcomes across these domains: technology for access and function; disability statistics; and a nationwide network of technical assistance, training, and research centers to support implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). NIDILRR’s Long-Range Plan for 2018-2023 was published by ACL in January 2019. 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. The ADA National Network comprises ten ADA regional centers, an ADA collaborative research center, and an ADA Knowledge Translation (ADA KT) Center, funded under this program.

Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Projects

The Advanced Rehabilitation Research and Training (ARRT) Program increases capacity for high-quality rehabilitation research by supporting grants to institutions to provide advanced research training to individuals with doctorates or similar advanced degrees who have clinical or other relevant experience. Grants are made to institutions to recruit qualified persons, including individuals with disabilities, and to prepare them to conduct independent research related to disability and rehabilitation, with particular attention to research areas that support the implementation and objectives of the Rehabilitation Act and that improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Act.

This research training may integrate disciplines, teach research methodology, and promote the capacity for disability studies and rehabilitation science. Training projects must operate in interdisciplinary environments and provide training in rigorous scientific methods.

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects

The Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) program funds projects that include a range of activities that include research, development, demonstration, training, knowledge translation, technical assistance, and related activities. These projects may develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology to maximize the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities, and 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 support to highly qualified individuals, including those who are individuals with disabilities, to conduct original research in the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities. Only individuals are eligible to be recipients of Fellowships. Any individual who has training and experience that indicate a potential for engaging in scientific research related to rehabilitation and independent living for individuals with disabilities is eligible for assistance under this program. 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 rehabilitation services in those three injury areas. These projects collect and contribute longitudinal data on 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, evaluation, and information dissemination.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers

The purpose of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) program is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act by conducting advanced engineering research and development of innovative technologies designed to solve particular rehabilitation problems or remove environmental barriers. RERCs also demonstrate and evaluate such technologies, facilitate service delivery systems changes, stimulate the production and distribution of equipment in the private sector, and provide training opportunities to enable individuals (including individuals with disabilities) to become researchers and practitioners of rehabilitation technology.

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 a center focusing on knowledge translation for technology transfer 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.

Section 21 Program

The Section 21 program focuses on research capacity building for minority entities, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and institutions, serving primarily Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian or Alaska Native students, as well as non-minority entities with an interest in improving understanding about the needs and outcomes of individuals with disabilities from minority populations. Program activities include assisting minority entities with networking that supports enhanced collaboration between minority entities and non-minority entities, and the exchange of expertise and advanced training across program areas. NIDILRR’s Section 21 program includes grants from across NIDILRR’s other grant funding mechanisms, i.e., Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers, Advanced Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers, Field-Initiated Projects.

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, 2019. 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.

Search the Program Directory.