Interagency Committee on Disability Research

ICDR Highlights

May 2016


The Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) promotes coordination and cooperation among federal departments and agencies conducting disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research including programs relating to assistive technology research and research that incorporates the principles of universal design and includes 17 statutory member agencies. John Tschida, Director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) is the designated chair.

Message from the Chair

The ICDR Executive Committee and working groups are developing priorities for the government wide strategic plan. After a series of planning meetings followed by stakeholder input, the working groups narrowed their focus of priorities. The Assistive Technology and Universal Design (AT-UD) working group highlighted the need for research in many aspects of accessibility in health information technology (IT). They will assemble a repository of education material and best practices related to health IT to provide back and front end examples of health IT accessible designs.

The Community Integration and Participation (CIP) working group will focus on Centers for Independent Living (CIL) outcomes, and develop a research project to evaluate provision of services by the CILs. The Employment and Education (EE) working group will build upon and utilize the evidence-base in youth transition. They will create a Transition Research Academy for the purpose of analyzing and advancing quality research methodologies.

The Health, Functioning, and Wellness (HFW) working group recently conducted stakeholder meetings to gather more input related to medical rehabilitation research and will initiate activities to gain a better understanding of this relatively new field, articulate pressing needs and identify potential synergies. The working group focusing on the Government Wide Inventory (GWI) is conducting a beta-testing analysis using the Federal RePORTER, the proposed existing database, to assess the number of searching and analyzing features.

I would like to thank the working group co-chairs for their time and effort thus far in this process, as well as the working group members and stakeholders who have contributed to this effort. I invite policymakers, representatives from other federal agencies conducting relevant research, individuals with disabilities, organizations representing individuals with disabilities, researchers, and providers to become actively involved in upcoming efforts. For more information, please email inquiries, comments, or requests to participate to the ICDR technical support contractor, New Editions Consulting, Inc. at

John Tschida
Designated ICDR Chair

Rebranding: ICDR Unveils New Logo

Symposium coordinators and speakers picture

In July 2014, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) mandated significant changes when it reauthorized the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR). To accompany structural changes being catalyzed by the strategic planning process, the ICDR is rebranding itself with a new logo. This new logo reflects a more modern approach designed to signify synergy and collaboration. A new color, burnt orange, has been added to the ICDR design signature blue and green colors.

Government Wide Strategic Planning Activities

The ICDR continues its first phase of a systematic strategic planning process to develop a comprehensive government wide strategic plan for disability, independent living, and rehabilitation research, as required under WIOA.

To date, the process has included multiple stakeholder input opportunities in the areas of assistive technology and universal design, community integration and participation, employment and education, and health, functioning, and wellness. The working group leadership, along with members of the Executive Committee, worked with stakeholders to narrow priorities and further define the goals and objectives for the ICDR.

In March, the ICDR began collecting additional information regarding medical rehabilitation research. ICDR Designated Chair, John Tschida, hosted a series of three webinars and gathered input from over 85 stakeholders with an interest in medical rehabilitation research. The group is prioritizing ideas and suggestions and expects to have research priorities to propose to the Executive Committee in the draft strategic plan.

The Executive Committee will meet on June 9, 2016, to review the draft strategic plan. For more information, visit the strategic planning website.

Accessibility and Usability in Health Information Technology Report Released

On September 17-18, 2015, the ICDR sponsored a conference on Accessibility and Usability in Health Information Technology: A Research and Action Conference to Empower People with Disabilities, Older Adults, and Caregivers.

The purpose of the conference was to advance the priority of accessibility in health information technology (IT) systems and tools from a compliance-oriented approach toward one that is responsive to human-centered consumer experiences, resulting in increased patient engagement and improved health and wellness for individuals with disabilities, older adults, and caregivers. Over 35 thought leaders representing users, providers, health IT research and development (R&D), and federal leadership shared their perspectives of current issues and potential levers of change to move the agenda for accessible and usable health IT forward.

Stakeholders included groups representing accessibility and health IT R&D, policy, federal government, industry, providers, aging and disability advocates, individuals with disabilities, older adults, and caregivers. The conference offered a unique and timely opportunity to share perspectives and identify issues. They exchanged actionable strategies to advance knowledge and practices related to health care methods, models, and tools associated with accessible, interoperable and person-centered health IT.

Key Takeaways:

  • Aging and disability stakeholder groups recognized their shared goals to integrate both accessibility and usability standards and tools into health IT systems and resources.
  • Health IT professionals and developers acknowledged that accessibility can be an opportunity for innovation.
  • Rigorous and comprehensive capacity-building efforts to educate and train industry representatives, developers, clinicians, and community-based providers on accessibility and usability of health IT are needed.
  • Government-supported accessibility research and development is often behind the fast-moving IT industry. Partnerships between government and industry may help align these activities.
  • Person-centered accessible health IT is the key to making the Affordable Care Act and the “triple aim” of improved care, better outcomes and reduced cost, succeed.

Since the event, the conference has gained momentum with attendees participating and organizing the following activities:

In the coming months, the Assistive Technology and Universal Design Working Group plans on developing a list of resources that will allow interested users to build upon existing usable and accessible health IT resources.

The Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR), authorized by the 2014 Workforce Investment Opportunities Act (WIOA), Section 203, promotes a cohesive, strategic Federal program of disability, rehabilitation, and independent living research; brokers partnerships; and facilitates coordination and collaborations among federal department and agencies conducting such research.

This publication was developed under a U.S. Department of Education contract award to New Editions Consulting, Inc. The findings and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) and its members, or the US Department of Education; and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

Subscriber Services: