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Founded in 1975, TIRR Memorial Hermann's Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) has a long history of providing research, education and consultation in the areas of independent living, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), home- and community-based services and health issues for people with disabilities. The Director of the ILRU is Lex Frieden, a nationally-known advocate for persons with disabilities.
In September 2005, ILRU led efforts by a coalition of disability groups around the country providing support and assistance to people with disabilities along the Gulf Coast who were affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. During the 12 months following landfall of Hurricane Katrina, ILRU staff responded to more than 3,000 telephone calls and e-mails for help from people with disabilities in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas who were displaced by the hurricanes.
ILRU also runs the Southwest ADA Center, the Southwest's leading resource on the Americans with Disabilities Act and related disability rights laws. The center is one of 10 regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACs) funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).