KU News Release

Oct. 12, 2011
Contact: Val Renault, Bureau of Child Research, 785-864-0575

Research center wins $4.25M grant on community living

Glen W. White, Amanda Reichard and Martha Hodgesmith

LAWRENCE — The Research and Training Center on Independent Living (RTC/IL) at the University of Kansas received a five-year, $4.25 million grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to help people with disabilities live in and participate more fully in their communities.

In June 2009, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the “Year of Community Living” to mark the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Olmstead v. L.C. decision. Olmstead gives Americans with disabilities the right to live in a community setting rather than in an institution.

Since then there has been increasing progress toward the goal of community living for people with disabilities through deinstitutionalization, anti-discrimination policies, community-based service providers and other systems of care. Yet people with disabilities still face many barriers to achieving enhanced participation and continuity in community living.

The new Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC/CL) will develop evidence-based programs, policies and practices that further community living among people with disabilities.

“We want to help people with disabilities fully participate in the community, reduce their risk for institutionalization in a nursing home, hospital or other health care setting and, whenever possible, successfully transition from an institution to a community setting,” said Glen W. White, director of the RTC/IL and of the new center.

KU researchers Amanda Reichard and Martha Hodgesmith will serve as the center’s research director and associate director, respectively. Other disability scientists from the University of New Hampshire, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Montana will collaborate on the project.

The center will conduct six research projects to analyze how barriers to and experiences of community living may differ across sociodemographic and geographic groups. With this information as a foundation, five more projects will test strategies designed to improve community living opportunities for individuals with disabilities, focusing on housing, health, recreation, and community and civic involvement.

“These projects represent the state of art in terms of understanding the factors that put people with disabilities at risk for institutionalization. The research and advisory teams we have assembled will blend research rigor with relevance to reduce barriers that threaten continuity in community living and support programs that enhance quality of life for Americans with disabilities,” said White.

The RTC/IL was established in 1980 to increase the independence of people with disabilities. It is one of 14 centers and more than 150 programs at the University of Kansas’ Life Span Institute.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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