Technology for Independence:
A Community-Based Resource Center

The Law, Health Policy and Disability Center (LHPDC) at the University of Iowa in partnership with the Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) at the Baylor College of Medicine have established "Technology for Independence: A Community-Based Resource Center" (CBRC) in response to a request for proposal from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education.

Over a five year period, the Resource Center will build and enhance the capacity of community-based and consumer directed disability organizations to design, implement, and disseminate research activities and projects that promote environmental access and use of technology for independence. The Resource Center will merge the national experience and expertise of the ILRU, directed by Lex Frieden, on independent living and the principles of choice and self determination, with the nationally recognized research expertise of LHPDC, led by Dr. Peter Blanck, in the areas of technology access and use, employment policy, and civil rights.

The CBRC will use a combination of implementation strategies such as leadership development, training, and technical assistance activities, web-assisted audioconference training, distance education, and three annual on-site symposia in Iowa City, Houston, and Washington, D.C. The CBRC activities will be directed to selected research teams, research centers, community-based disability organizations, and University research centers. Using multi- and inter-disciplinary models, the CBRC will build and enhance the capacity of these and other entities to conduct research that is both scientifically rigorous and relevant to real-world social, policy, and legal interests. The research team framework will pair researchers from community-based organizations with researchers from university-based research centers to improve existing and future collaborative relationships. The research pairs will comprise individuals with diverse backgrounds, in terms of their disability type and severity, ethnicity, and socioeconomic experiences. The participants will form close working relationships designed to advance knowledge in the areas related to technology for independence and environmental access.

The CBRC will use, among other strategies, participatory action research models to increase the capacity to conduct community-based research as well as to enhance opportunities for successful funding of future research in these areas. One primary measure of the CBRC's success will be advancements in narrowing the gap between the challenges of conducting rigorous and relevant research on technology access and use of this learning in the home, classroom, workplace.

LHPDC and ILRU will engage a blue-ribbon panel of consulting researchers with disabilities to shape the project's direction, research agenda, curricula materials, and provide training and technical assistance to diverse targeted audiences.

**Technology for Independence is 100% funded by NIDRR grant # H133A021801 at $1.5 million over 5 years.


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