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ACL Awards COVID-19 Research Grants

October 1, 2021

ACL's National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) has awarded five Field Initiated Projects (FIP) program grants focused on COVID-19 topics that are especially important to people with disabilities. The planned project period for these grants is September 1, 2021, – August 31, 2024, with an anticipated multi-year award total of $3 million.

  • The University of Kansas Institute for Health & Disability Policy Studies will build on the success of the NIDILRR-funded National Survey on Health and Disability (NSHD) by leading a research effort to document the COVID-19 related experiences of working-age adults with disabilities. Based on this research, the new grant will suggest meaningful interventions and policy initiatives to support positive health and function, employment, and community living outcomes during and after the pandemic.
  • Colorado State University will characterize how people with disabilities and supported employment service providers adapted to pandemic-related virtual work policies, and how those adaptations impacted services and outcomes. The grantee will directly observe technology used in supported employment services to examine how it is impacting program logistics and workplace experiences and outcomes for people with disabilities. This grant will include partnerships with the Colorado Office of Employment First, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and community rehabilitation provider agencies from across the state.
  • Cornell University’s Yang-Tan Institute will conduct research to increase understanding of the experiences of justice- or foster-care system-involved out-of-school youth with disabilities as they access vocational rehabilitation (VR) services. The grantee will identify effective approaches for connecting out-of-school youth with disabilities, and their families, with VR services in order to improve employment outcomes. The research will specifically explore how the pandemic has changed the ways that systems-involved youth are willing or able to engage with VR services. 
  • Virginia Commonwealth University will merge four major datasets to create one of the country’s most comprehensive datasets focused on the experiences and outcomes of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The merger will enable longitudinal analyses to understand the effects of COVID-19 and major state and federal policy initiatives on the lives of people with IDD.
  • Temple University will develop a peer support intervention to increase knowledge of airborne infectious diseases and safe workplace practices among adolescents and young adults with Autism. The grantee’s research toward the development of this intervention aims to improve health and employment outcomes among this important population.

The full list of the 17 FY 2021 FIP grants can be found on NARIC.com.

As described in NIDILRR’s FY 2021 funding announcements for the FIP program, we originally intended to fund 15 FIP grants this year. Three of the five COVID-related projects described above were part of the highest-ranked fifteen FIP grants that emerged from the peer review process. The ongoing COVID-19 emergency has prioritized the need for new knowledge that can be used to better serve and support people with disabilities during and after the pandemic. Given this need NIDILRR funded an additional two COVID-specific projects out of rank order, from among a significant number of high-scoring FIP applicants. 

Contact Theresa San Agustin or Radha Holavanahalli if you have questions about NIDILRR’s FIP Program.

NIDILRR, part of ACL, generates new knowledge and promotes its effective use so that people with disabilities can perform activities of their choice in the community. NIDILRR also works to expand society’s capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for people with disabilities


Last modified on 10/01/2021


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