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Field-Initiated Projects

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Per the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), now the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), has been transferred to the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For more information on ACL, please visit More information on NIDILRR’s new Web site will be posted soon. In the meantime, you may continue to find information regarding NIDILRR on


Program Office: National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)

CFDA Number: 84.133G
Program Type: Discretionary/Competitive Grants
Also Known As: FI, formerly known as Field-Initiated Research or FIR


The Field-Initiated Projects (FIPs) are a program of investigator-initiated research that was created by NIDILRR in 1984 under its R&D authority. The FIP program supplements NIDILRR’s directed research portfolio by addressing diverse research issues in promising and innovative ways. Field initiated research projects cover all of NIDILRR’s domains, including employment, independent living, medical rehabilitation and development of new technologies, and address all disability populations with a wide range of research approaches.

Projects must further one or both of the following purposes:

  1. To develop methods, procedures and rehabilitation technology, that maximize the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most severe disabilities; and

  2. To improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The maximum award is $200,000 per year for a maximum of 36 months. The FIP program is highly competitive.

  • RAF Models, Inc., Winston-Salem, NC
    (Rebecca Fuller, principal investigator)

    An intermediate outcome was the development of a new tactile exhibit system that makes aquarium exhibits accessible to those who are blind or have low vision. The goal was to design a user-initiated touching or exploring system that eliminates the need for buttons, switches or complex computer programs that would greatly enhance the aquarium experience for individuals with low vision and blindness. RAF Models gathered data that will support the development of national guidelines for the design of tactile exhibits that engage all people and give the blind and low vision audience access to the exhibit information. The exhibits, touch-activated, tactile models of aquatic animals with an audio component, have become part of a permanent exhibit at North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.
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  • NPR Labs, Washington, DC
    (Mike Starling, principal investigator)

    An intermediate outcome was the development for the market place of the world’s first accessible talking radio, the DICE ITR-100A, designed in conformance with NPR recommendations on products for blind and low vision users. Researchers at NPR Labs prototyped, field-tested and assessed the most appropriate technologies, service models, and operational techniques in the accessible design of mass-market digital radio services to better serve consumers with sensory disabilities. This work produced best practice demonstrations and service options for mass-market adoption within digital radio services and receivers, options that model how digital radio can provide: Mainstreamed digital radio reading services, live video description synchronized to broadcast, and accessible controls, displays and menu options on digital radio receivers. The research and technology was transferred to the market place.
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  • University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
    (Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, PhD, principal investigator)

    An early outcome was the development and publication in peer-reviewed journals of benchmarking information for the field of rehabilitation for outcomes related to TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY and for STROKE during the period 2000 to 2007. The information (e.g., length of stay, discharge setting, function status gains, etc.) will be used by rehabilitation facilities across the country to benchmark or compare the outcomes for their individual facilities to the nationally aggregated outcomes reported in these articles.

  • These comparisons are useful for accreditation, quality improvement and development of clinical practice/outcome guidelines:

    1. Granger, C.V.; Markello, S.J.; Graham, J.E.; Deutsch, A.; Reistetter, T.A.; Ottenbacher, K.J. (2010). The Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation: Report of Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury Discharged from Rehabilitation Programs in 2000-2007. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 89, 265-278.

    2. Granger, C.V.; Markello, S.; Graham, J.E.; Deutsch, A.; Ottenbacher,K.J. (2009) The Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation report of patients with stroke discharged from comprehensive medical programs in 2000 through 2007. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 88, 961-972.

Additional Information

Note: This is one of several NIDILRR grant programs. Congress provides an appropriation for NIDILRR as a whole; see the main entry for NIDILRR, CFDA # 84.133. The amounts listed here are a portion of the NIDILRR appropriation.

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Last Modified: 04/20/2015