$4.25 Million Grant Brings Disabilities Center to OHSU

11/15/01    Portland, Ore.

The five-year grant creates a new Americans with Disabilities Act/Information Technology Center

An $850,000 a year, five-year grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research has created a new ADA/IT Center at Oregon Health & Science University. The center had been located in Washington.

"We're very pleased this center is now at OHSU. It's a natural extension of our mission to improve the well-being of people in Oregon and beyond. Now is the time to make real the promise of the ADA throughout the Northwest region," said Charles E. Drum, J.D., Ph.D., OHSU assistant professor of public health and preventive medicine, OHSU School of Medicine. Drum is the principal investigator of the new center.

Lynnae Ruttledge is the new center's director. She was the former assistant administrator for policy and planning at the Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Division.

The Northwest ADA/IT Center will provide technical assistance and training and also will disseminate materials about the legal obligations and rights established by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The center's services are available to employers, state and local governments, individuals with disabilities, private businesses that provide services to the public, and others. The center has three established affiliates in Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

Typical calls from the public could be an architect asking about the ADA requirements for restrooms, health care representatives asking how to communicate effectively with patients who are deaf or hard of hearing, or people with disabilities asking about their rights when applying for a job, Ruttledge said.

The center's plans to install a state-of-the-art Web conferencing center that will combine e-mail, instant messaging, message boards, linear conference rooms and other services. Building on this conferencing capability, the center also plans to develop an ADA distance-learning program. The new Northwest ADA/IT center's Web site, www.nwada.org will provide easy access to cutting edge information and available technology.

The information technology segment of the center will provide technical assistance and training to educational entities, such as elementary and secondary schools, postsecondary institutions, adult education programs, and distance-learning centers.

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research is part of the U.S. Department of Education. The new center will operate as part of OHSU's Oregon Institute on Disability and Development at the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center, which has programs to serve children as well as adults with disabilities.

About 54 million, or one in five, people in the United States have a disability. People with disabilities make up the single largest minority group in the country.