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$4.6 Million in Grants Awarded for Research Projects Aimed at Helping Improve Lives of People with Disabilities

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The U.S. Department of Education announced today the award of more than $4.6 million in grants to five institutions for research projects aimed at helping improve the lives of people with disabilities. The grant money was disbursed before the recent government shutdown and was not affected by the temporary lapse in funding.

"Through these projects, we hope to conduct research, develop projects and provide technical assistance and training – all aimed at helping better the lives of individuals with disabilities," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "All of these efforts are intended to fulfill the goal of inclusion, integration, employment and self-sufficiency for people with disabilities."

The grants are being awarded under the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERC) Program. The recipients will conduct programs of advanced research of an engineering or technical nature designed to apply technology, scientific achievement and psychological and social knowledge to solve rehabilitation problems and remove environmental barriers.

The grants include:

  • The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System (CFDA 81.133E-4) -- $925,000.
  • Regents of the University of Michigan (CFDA 81.133E-5) -- $923,442
  • Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) - (CFDA 81.133E-5) -- $924,937
  • Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) - (CFDA 81.133E-7) -- $924,939
  • Carnegie Mellon University - (CFDA 81.133E-8) -- $923,878

In recent years, a variety of products have been created through the RERC program to help people with disabilities, including accessible kiosks, voting booths and ATM machines. The program has also help fund "talking signs" for the blind community and hand-held hearing screening devices to screen for hearing loss in newborns, infants, young children and other difficult to test people.

The grants will be administered by the Education Department's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).