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Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) Program

Independent Livign and Research Utilization (ILRU) at TIRR Memorial HermannA good rehabilitation program should provide the comprehensive resources necessary to achieve an advanced level of independence once a patient is discharged. TIRR Memorial Hermann provides this vital support system through a program called Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU), established in 1977.

Community-Focused Model

Grounded in advocacy, the ILRU program at TIRR Memorial Hermann is a community-focused model, rather than a medical model. The program is led by Lex Frieden, regarded worldwide as one of the leading experts in disability policy and the current chairperson of the board of the National Council on Disability (NCD) and president of Rehabilitation International. 

The ILRU staff works with independent living centers and other disability-focused organizations around the country to increase opportunities for people with disabilities to live more independently. They do this through research, education and consultation, concentrating their efforts on: 

  • Promoting the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of people with disabilities, which enables them to lead productive lives 
  • Promoting communities free of physical, financial, social and communications barriers 
  • Promoting social justice for people with disabilities 

Information Resource on the Americans with Disabilities Act

ILRU also serves as a comprehensive information resource on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Housed at ILRU, the ADA Resource Center provides training, technical assistance and informational resources to employers, consumers, architects, businesses, media and disability organizations. 

To help fulfill its mission of creating opportunities for independence through research, education and consultation, ILRU is funded through private foundation grants and grants from numerous public agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor.


Research Highlights

Community and Work Participation Disparities: A Program of the ADA Participation Action Research Consortium (ADA-PARC)

CO-INVESTIGATOR: Vinh Nguyen, J.D., M.B.A.

Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) from 2012 to 2017, ADA-PARC is a research collaboration between seven ADA Centers to look at participation disparities experienced by people with disabilities after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), to identify and examine key environmental factors contributing to these disparities, highlight promising practices at the state and city levels, and to plan strategies of action for dissemination and utilization of findings to be used by ADA Centers and others in community capacity building and systems change initiatives.

Southwest ADA Center


Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research from 2011 to 2016, the Southwest ADA Center provides training and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act in the federal region that encompasses Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The project is also surveying cancer survivors in the United States regarding their employment-related needs, awareness of existing resources and legislation to address such needs, and information receipt preferences.