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Title: US Department of Education - National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
Author: William Peterson
Published: 2003
Publication: Assistive Technology Transfer Update: Vol. 5 (Spring) Annual Report, 2001-2002

According to William Peterson, Program Officer, the NIDRR was chartered to provide a comprehensive and coordinated program of research and related activities to maximize the inclusion and social integration, employment, and independent living of individuals of all ages with disabilities. Particular emphasis was placed on improving the coordination and effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. As a result, the NIDRR is the nation's lead agency for research and development in the field of assistive technology.

NIDRR explores a range of strategies to leverage the resources available to their grant programs, including sustaining work to develop a systematic process for accomplishing technology transfer. NIDRR sponsored multiple RERC's on technology transfer and evaluation from 1988 - 1993, consolidated into one RERC from 1993 to the present. The RERC on Technology Transfer is authorized to operate on a national/international level to identify and transfer technologies useful in assistive technology devices. This RERC is charged to identify and evaluate models of technology transfer applicable to the field of technology transfer. Dr. Tim Janis, President of ARAC Inc., applauded NIDRR's approach and characterized the RERC on Technology Transfer as the Federal government's only sustained effort to study and implement technology transfer.

The NIDRR's technology transfer program is shaped by the agencies' social mission to improve people's functional capabilities, and thereby increase their access to activities of education, vocation and daily living. Technology transfer's role in accomplishing this mission is articulated in the NIDRR Long-Range Plan (http://www.ncddr.org/new/announcements/nidrr_lrp/index.html).

The key issues facing the NIDRR's continuing technology
transfer efforts are:

  • Increasing the focus of projects on the utilization of outcomes, including the commercialization of new products, and accelerate the planning process.

  • Exploring new forms of inter-agency collaboration to address small market needs.

  • Encouraging funded projects to collaborate
    with the A/T industry, while maintaining sufficient distance to track intellectual property ownership, and avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest.

  • Establish ground rules for the involvement of university technology transfer offices in project utilization efforts, because their policies and practices for brokering intellectual property may not match NIDRR's societal mission.

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