Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) Program


Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) programs conduct coordinated, integrated, and advanced programs of research, training, and information dissemination in topical areas that are specified by NIDILRR. RRTCs conduct research to improve rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems; improve health and functioning; and promote employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.

They also provide training (including graduate, pre-service, and in-service training) to assist rehabilitation personnel to more effectively provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities.

RRTCs serve as centers of national excellence in rehabilitation research for providers and for individuals with disabilities and their representatives. Awards are normally made for a five-year period.

How to Apply

  • Eligible applicants are states; public or private agencies, including for-profit agencies; public or private organizations, including for-profit organizations; and institutions of higher education; and Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations.

  • View a list of NIDILRR funding opportunities and application kits.

  • As a rough guideline, check the preceding link between October and April every year.

  • View the Guide to Applying for some helpful application tips.


Select Accomplishments for FY 2015

Diabetes Education Tool Kit Helps People with Mental Health Disorders Manage Both Conditions

University of Illinois, Chicago: RRTC on Psychiatric Disability and Co-occurring Medical Conditions (Grant #90RT5012)

The RRTC on Psychiatric Disability and Co-occurring Medical Conditions developed an online tool kit designed to help people with psychiatric disabilities at increased risk for diabetes and pre-diabetes to understand and manage their diabetes or pre-diabetic condition.

The tool kit includes an extensive library of materials and podcasts covering the basics of diabetes, building and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and managing hypertension and the risks of diabetes. Also included is a chart of American Diabetes Association standards of care with related educational material.

Materials from the tool kit have been downloaded more than 48,000 times. The Canadian Mental Health Association included the tool kit in their Diabetes and Mental Health Peer Support Project.

The tool kit can be found at

Tip Sheets Aid Youth and Young Adults with Serious Mental Health Conditions in Employment Challenges

University of Massachusetts Medical School: RRTC on Learning and Working during the Transition to Adulthood (Grant #90RT5031)

The RRTC on Learning and Working during the Transition to Adulthood produced a series of employment-related tip sheets that were developed and reviewed with input from young adults with serious mental health conditions. The descriptive tip sheet titles illustrate the range of topics addressed.

The above publications and others are available at

Researchers Examine the Effects of the Environment on Community Participation Among People with Disabilities

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: RRTC on Improving Measurement and Medical Rehabilitation Outcomes (Grant #90RT5008)

Researchers from the RRTC on Improving Measurement and Medical Rehabilitation Outcomes focused on reexamining assumptions surrounding the role of environmental factors on the health and participation of people with disabilities.

The research team reviewed theories from the fields of social, community, and developmental psychology, including a consideration of disability studies, gerontology, public health, and rehabilitation in an effort to examine the role of environmental factors and their measurement. They also discussed the application of these theories along with different technologies that could play a key role in helping to quantify, document, and communicate the dynamic interrelationships between environmental factors, participation, and health outcomes for people with disabilities.

This is a critical step for understanding the environment-participation relationship and providing rehabilitation stakeholders with information needed to modify environments to facilitate the social inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

The authors’ findings were published in the following paper: Magasi, S., Wong, A., Gray, D. B., Hammel, J., Baum, C., Wang, C. C., & Heinemann, A. W. (2015). Theoretical foundations for the measurement of environmental factors and their impact on participation among people with disabilities. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 96(4), 569–577.

Prominent Researcher on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Describes Strategies for Overcoming Service Barriers in Presidential Speech to the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Research and Training Center on Community Living (Grant #90RT5019)

Dr. Amy Hewitt, from the University of Minnesota’s Research and Training Center on Community Living, served as president of the prestigious American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In her Presidential Address to the organization, she described the complexities and barriers of our existing intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) system.

She described the way that this system hinders community living outcomes and proposed a new direction and strategies to overcome these barriers. Dr. Hewitt also argued that the issues of community inclusion, participation, and citizenship remain particularly significant within the IDD system and that all three of these areas need to be adequately addressed to support people with IDD and help promote improved outcomes.

Her discussion highlighted many specific complexities and challenges that people with IDD face, including the complex maze of available services, differences in language and jargon, geographic differences, and the importance of education and learning.

Her speech is published as: Hewitt, A. (2014). Presidential Address, 2014—Embracing complexity: Community inclusion, participation, and citizenship. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 52(6), 475–495.

Researchers on Disability in Rural Communities Tackle Employment, Wellness, and Hospital Practices

University of Montana: RRTC on Disability in Rural Communities (Grant #90RT5025)

The RRTC on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana developed new procedures for using electronic communications and social media to provide vocational rehabilitation services and supports.

They also advanced their mission to promote participation in the community and the workforce through improved vocational rehabilitation resources, dissemination of evidence-based wellness programs, and other research by creating a web-based health education program tailored for vocational rehabilitation consumers: Health Plans to Employment.

They also completed a study on the factors affecting community participation in persons with chronic pain. With federal partners at ACL, the RRTC identified geographic regions that exhibited service overlap of independent living centers and aging and disability resource centers, as well as those that experienced a deficit of services. The RRTC has applied participatory action research to develop an agenda to enhance hospital discharge and transition procedures.

This compilation of projects emphasizes how the RRTC is altering rural health practices and providing resources to foster community participation and independent living.


Contact Phillip Beatty at NIDILRR if you have questions about the RRTC Program funding mechanism.

Last modified on 09/20/2017

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