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Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers

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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: 84.133E
Program Type: Formula Grants, Discretionary/Competitive Grants
Also Known As: RERCs

Program Description

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs) conduct programs of advanced research of an engineering or technical nature designed to apply advanced technology, scientific achievement, and psychological and social knowledge to solve rehabilitation problems and remove environmental barriers.

RERCs work at the individual level focusing on technology to benefit those affected by sensory loss, mobility impairment, or communication difficulties. They also work at the systems level to eliminate barriers such as those found in telecommunications and the built environment. Each center is affiliated with a rehabilitation setting, which provides an environment for cooperative research and the transfer of rehabilitation technologies into rehabilitation practice.

RERCs also develop systems for the exchange of technical and engineering information worldwide and improve the distribution of technological devices and equipment to individuals with disabilities.



NIDILRR supported rehabilitation engineering research centers have led to advances in assistive technology products and rehabilitation services. Furthermore, a number of RERCs have played major roles in developing voluntary standards that industry uses when developing wheelchairs, seating systems, prosthetics and orthotics, universal design applications and Web accessibility.

A quick list of some of the most recent products developed by RERCs:

  • Accessible Kiosks, Voting Booths and ATM Machines
    Universally accessible so that all individuals, regardless of their functional abilities or sensory loss, can safely and independently access information, cast ballots, and navigate screens.

  • Talking Signs
    Provides a universal remotely readable signage system of particular benefit to the blind community. The system uses infrared transmitters placed at sign locations, programmed with the desired “sign” messages. The user receives the verbal signage information on his/her receiver.

  • Direct Ultrasound Ranging System (DURS)
    A new measurement instrument that was designed to assist prosthetists and orthotists with improved management of their clients and with documentation of functional outcomes and rehabilitation progress. The DURS enables clinicians to evaluate walking function through measurement of the forward motion including symmetry of gait, instantaneous walking velocity, fluctuation of forward velocity, average walking speed, cadence, step lengths and step times.

  • Hand-Held Hearing Screening Device
    A highly cost effective device that is used to screen for hearing loss in newborns, infants, young children and other difficult to test people. Advantages of this system include high accuracy, portability, ease of use, convenience for field testing, speed of testing (1 to 2 minutes per test), and resistance to interference from ambient noise.



To view contact information and abstracts for newly or currently funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers, click here

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

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Last Modified: 04/20/2015