Institute on Disability awarded $4.3 Million
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013 03:10
The University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability (IOD) received a $4.3 million grant, to be paid out over five years, from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research. This grant will allow the institute to continue its work in improving access to disability data and performing research to enhance this data.
“The grant is a new grant for us from a technical standpoint,” Matthew Gianino, the communications director for the IOD, said. “It’s a renewal of a grant we’ve had that we had been a subcontractor to.”
The institute, which is a grant-funded institute within the UNH College of Health and Human Services, has been conducting disability research for the past five years.
“This [year] is the first time that the institute was the actual awardee of the grant,” Gianino said.
The grant will allow the IOD to carry out its four responsibilities in terms of disability research, which include the dissemination of new disability-related information to communities, individuals and healthcare professionals. The university is not the only one that received funds from the Department of Education. The Kessler Foundation, which focuses on improving the lives of disabled individuals, also received a grant and has partnered with the Institute on Disability in the past in conducting research.
This grant, although significant, is one of more than 30 different grants the institute manages.
“We have a very broad and complex grant portfolio, with 30 to 35 grants and projects active on any day,” Gianino said.
The institute has a staff of more than 100 to execute these grants. The grants, while focusing on disability research, are broad in scope.
“Typically, the programs are not diagnosis specific,” Gianino said. “The programs look at disability from a higher altitude and try to ensure that individuals with disabilities are fully included in their community regardless of their background.”
The information and research the institute disseminates is of particular importance to policy makers and those also conducting disability research. With the grant, the institute plans to make current, reliable and accurate disability data readily available to those who need it.
“We hope to make it easier for people, particularly policy makers, to get comprehensive, reliable disability data from a single resource,” Gianino said.
The IOD already participates in producing the Disability Compendium, an annual publication that is a “one-stop shop for disability data on a national level,” Gianino said. The institute will also look at outcome data under the grant.
“We will also be looking at the success of federal disability programs, how efficient and effective spending is around those programs, and whether or not the trends are better or worse over time for individuals with disabilities in the United States,” Gianino said. Gianino noted that this information could also be of use to advocates of those with disabilities.
Among the possible projects under consideration to distribute disability data is the development of an application for mobile devices.
“There will also be research reports in peer-reviewed journals and an expansion of disability data content on existing websites,” Gianino said. “There are a number of ways we will disseminate this information.”
Gianino noted that the institute has a good chance of continuing the grant after its five-year period.
“There is a very strong likelihood that this grant will be re-awarded in five years,” Gianino said. “We’ll be aggressively pursuing it.”