UNH Receives $4.3M Federal Grant to Improve National Disability Data

UNH Receives $4.3M Federal Grant to Improve National Disability Data

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at UNH has been awarded a five-year, $4.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The grant, called the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC), works towards improving knowledge about and access to existing disability data and generating the knowledge needed to improve future disability data collection and dissemination. 

“Statistics are powerful tools—in research, policymaking, program evaluation, and advocacy,” says Andrew Houtenville, research director at the Institute on Disability and principal investigator for the StatsRRTC grant. “They are used to frame the issues, monitor current circumstances and progress, judge the effectiveness of policies and programs, make projections about the future, and predict the costs of potential policy changes. Having accurate and timely health statistics for people with intellectual disabilities is important for moving policies and practices forward.” 

The goal of the StatsRRTC project is to narrow and actively bridge the divide between the producers and end users of disability statistics, thereby supporting better data collection, more accurate information, better decision-making, more effective programs, and better lives for people with disabilities. Many of the projects will consist of timely and high-quality data analyses which inform policy. These projects address highly relevant and current policy issues increasing the likelihood that the data will be used by policymakers to make informed, evidence-based decisions about programs and policies that impact people with disabilities, particularly those related to disparities in various outcomes for people with and without disabilities and trends for program participation.

Some highlights of the 12 research and 15 knowledge translation projects proposed by the grant: 

  • Research projects to develop recommendations and measurement tools to improve the identification of the population with disabilities and measure services;
  • Research projects to assess progress towards national goals and address informational needs about critical programs;
  • Development of national- and state-level Annual Reports on Disability;
  • Continued publication and dissemination of the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, a web-based tool that pools disability statistics published by various federal agencies together in one place;
  • Customized technical assistance to help narrow and actively bridge the divide between statistics producers and end users; and
  • a State of the Science conference, which will bring researchers, policymakers and advocates together to discuss the state of disability statistics and how to move the field forward. 

Key partners include Mathematica, the Kessler Foundation, the Public Health Institute, InfoUse, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Center for Essential Management Services (CEMS), and the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). 

The Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire was established in 1987 to provide a university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Its mission is to promote full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all persons by strengthening communities and advancing policy and systems change, promising practices, education, and research.