Involving consumers in disability research helps ensure the products of research are relevant and useful. Research and Training Centers across the country work hard to incorporate consumers into the research process and are mandated to do so by their primary funding agency, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, (NIDILRR). This mandate for consumer involvement is crucial, not only to make sure research actually benefits people with disabilities but also to support and affirm nothing about us without us, the Independent Living Movement’s call to action for consumer involvement at all levels of research and service.
Historically, people with disabilities were excluded from decisions, research and treatment design. This exclusion led to abuses by the scientific community because people with disabilities and their real, lived needs were not taken into consideration. As a result of political advocacy, consumers in the Independent Living Movement have successfully changed the policies of exclusion resulting in mandates for inclusion as well as widespread acceptance and understanding that research is better and more relevant when working with the people who will benefit from its products.
Learn more about how RTC: Rural works with consumers on research projects.