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Disability research helps advocates in independent living
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Sept. 9, 2003 -- Independent living centers, advocacy programs, grassroots groups and those working to better the lives of individuals with disabilities can all benefit from research.

"Advocacy, one of the core services provided by Centers for Independent Living, requires skills," say researchers at the Research and Training Center on Independent Living (RTCIL). Based at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, RTCIL works at "providing quality research, and widely disseminating effective and relevant products" to help those who work in independent living.

Less than a third of those seeking independent living services have effective advocacy skills, they learned through their research. Mostly, advocates used letter-writing as a tool, they found. "Based on this information, researchers compiled and tested the Action Letter Portfolio (ALP), an advocacy letter writing training manual that includes examples of disability-related issues and can be used to teach effective advocacy skills," they say. "The manual can also be used as a self-administered training tool, to assist consumers in developing the skills they need to make their communities more disability-friendly and accessible." For more information on how you can get the action letter portfolio, go to

For other research that can benefit independent living, go to For more about the RTCIL, which is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, go to

NIDRR itself is continuing to collect information from advocates about what kinds of research are most needed in order to update its long-range plan via a form on its website. The agency is seeking input "from people with disabilities, interested family or friends, service providers [and] disability and rehabilitation researchers."

The web-based form at gives advocates an opportunity to write in what they'd like to see done in terms of research. Those who cannot access the web-based form can send an email to or mail comments to: CESSI, Attn. Long-Range Plan, 6858 Old Dominion Drive Suite 250, McLean, VA 22101, or call (toll-free) 1-866-448-8380.

Read NIDRR's current long-range plan at

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