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Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) Program

Independent Living 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), a national program of research, training, and technical assistance established in 1977 to support self-direction and community living for persons with disabilities.

Community-Focused Model

Grounded in advocacy combined with effective research and high-quality training and technical assistance, the ILRU program at TIRR Memorial Hermann established the conceptual and programmatic framework for community-based services and has continued to support community living for persons with disabilities throughout its more than 40-year existence. The program is led by Lex Frieden, regarded worldwide as one of the leading experts in disability policy and past chairperson of the National Council on Disability (NCD) and a past president of Rehabilitation International. The Co-Director of ILRU is Richard Petty, a national expert in community-based services, independent living and participant direction.

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. ILRU does this through research, education and consultation, focused on these objectives:

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

ILRU conducts research on community living for persons with disabilities through the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living; ILRU’s Lex Frieden serves as a co-investigator for this national project conducting essential research into the impact of health care reform on working age adults with disabilities.

ILRU operates the CIL-NET National Technical Assistance and Training Center, the single national technical assistance and training program serving centers for independent living, providing training conferences and Web based instruction for staff and managers, as well as direct on-location consulting to over 500 community-based programs. The IL-NET also conducts research into effective practices for community supports which affect health outcomes for persons with disabilities and research into effective management practices for consumer-run organizations. ILRU also operates the SILC Training and Technical Assistance Center which provides consulting and training for statewide councils which facilitate independent living programs in U. S. states and territories. These two technical assistance and training centers are funded through the Independent Living Administration in the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Through its partner organization, The National Center for Aging and Disability, ILRU conducts research, training and consultation on community programs and services for persons with disabilities, older persons and those who are aging.

ILRU also serves as a comprehensive information resource on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Housed at ILRU, the Southwest ADA 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.

Disability Advocacy: http://tirr.memorialhermann.org/research/disability-advocacy/

Research Highlights

Community Living and Health Care for Persons with Disabilities: Through the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living

ILRU conducts essential research into the impact of health care reform on working age adults with disabilities.

CO-INVESTIGATOR: Lex Frieden, M.A., L.L.D.

Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) since 2015, the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living is a collaborative of leading researchers at Washington State University, University of Kansas, George Mason University and ILRU examining the impact of health reform on people with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Participation Action Research Consortium (ADA-PARC); Advancing Participation Equity for People with Disabilities

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Lex Frieden, M.A., L.L.D.
CO-INVESTIGATOR: Vinh Nguyen, J.D., M.B.A.

Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) since 2012, ADA-PARC is a research collaboration between all 10 regional ADA Centers across the country to look at participation disparities experienced by people with disabilities after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. ADA-PARC will build a web platform that will enable a user to query and compare levels of disparities in communities with respect to 1) access to accessible housing and other supports to live in the community; 2) levels of community participation and civic engagement and access to resources to participate in communities; and 3) economic, work and financial equity, and resource access.

Southwest ADA Center

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Lex Frieden, M.A., L.L.D.
PROJECT DIRECTOR: Vinh Nguyen, J.D., M.B.A.

Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research since 1991, 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 Southwest ADA Center will be researching barriers to access for people using service animals, the accessibility of employment wellness programs, employment and cancer issues, and the role of Centers for Independent Living in promoting disability access and the ADA.