StatsRRTC State of the Science Conference – Collaboration, Statistics, Knowledge Translation and Dissemination

On Monday, April 23rd the NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Disability Statistics and Demographics (StatsRRTC) held their State of the Science conference in association with the Council on State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) 2012 Spring Conference.  According to Dr. John O’Neill, the StatsRRTC co-principle investigator, approximately 238 people registered and just over 300 people were in attendance.

The conference began with opening remarks by Dr. Charlie Lakin, NIDRR Director.  Dr. Lakin discussed the power of information, the importance of collaboration and putting data to use, the challenges facing the research community in regard to data collection—particularly obtaining data on sub-populations within the disability community, and NIDRR’s continued commitment to research on people with disabilities outlined in the recent release of the proposed NIDRR long-range plan.

The conference included three break-out sessions throughout the course of the day with each having three additional break-out options.  A full listing of the specific sessions and presentations are expected to be available at the StatsRRTC website.  I personally sat in the following sessions:

Survey Methods and PWD as Respondents – Moderated by Julie Weeks

  • Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Survey Participation for Persons with Disabilities – Presented by Jason Markesich (MPR)
  • Telephone vs Face-to-Face Interviewing of Persons with Disabilities – Presented by Debra Wright (MPR)
  • Characteristics of Survey Interviews among Sample Persons With and Without Disabilities – Presented by Gerry Hendershot, Consultant on Disability and Health Statistics

Identifying Population of PWD in National Surveys – Moderated by Hakan Aykan (ASPE)

  • Disability Data in National Surveys – Presented by Denise Hoffman (MPR)
  • Performance of the 6 Questions – Presented by Rich Burkhauser (Cornell), Andrew Houtenville (UNH), and Jennifer Tennant (Ithaca)
  • ACS Measures of Disability and Measures that Focus on Work Limitation:  A Closer Examination – Presented by Barbara Altman (Consultant on Disability Statistics) and Julie Weeks (NCHS)

Reporting of Disability Statistics by Federal Agencies

  • Annual Disability Statistics Compendium – Presented by Tony Ruiz (UNH) and Andrew Houtenville (UNH)
  • Federal Disability Expenditures – Presented by Gina Livermore (MPR) and David Stapleton (MPR)
  • Federal Cross Agency Program Participation Statistics for People with Disabilities – Presented by Deb Brucker (UNH) and Andrew Houtenville (UNH)
  • Reporting of Disability Stats by Federal Agencies – Presented by Richard Horne (DOL) and Terrence McMenamin (DOL)

Much of the data and information presented in the presentations came from NIDRR-funded research and all the sessions were very informative.  The overarching themes stressed the importance of collaboration between agencies and highlighted collaborations between NIDRR and RSA; how a “meeting of the minds” can provide insight on the importance of disability research and how data collection can be improved as well as applied in the future; the importance of policy development in maintaining and creating funding streams; and most importantly—how research and policy can be applied to improving the delivery of services to people with disabilities.

For more information on Council on State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) please visit  For more information on StatsRRTC and the Disability Statistics Compendium please visit  To review and/or comment on the NIDRRs proposed long-range plan please visit

About cgraves34

Media Specialist for the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) through Administration for Community Living (ACL) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
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