Able South Carolina and ILRU at TIRR Memorial Hermann Announce the Disability Vaccine Access Opportunities Center (DVAO Center)

***UPDATE: The deadline has been extended to November 19, 2021. Please read our latest statement for details and updated RFA***

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA and HOUSTON, TEXAS – September 23, 2021. Kimberly Tissot of Able South Carolina and Richard Petty of ILRU in Houston announce today the Disability Vaccine Access Opportunities Center (DVAO Center), a national center that will further vaccination access for people with disabilities. The prime recipient of the grant for this project is Able South Carolina, which as a center for independent living is a consumer directed organization. ILRU, an organization managed and operated by people with disabilities, is the principal partner and contractor. The DVAO Center will support local disability-run centers for independent living to assist people with disabilities to have full access to the vaccines that fight COVID-19. Funding for this effort is provided by the CDC Foundation of Atlanta, Georgia.

“We are excited to support centers for independent living across the nation as they further vaccination access for people with disabilities,” said Kimberly Tissot, President and CEO of Able South Carolina. “Advocacy and informed decision‑making are cornerstones of the independent living approach practiced by Centers for Independent Living (CILs), which makes CILs the best qualified community-based organizations to assist people with disabilities to secure vaccinations.”

ILRU Co-Director Richard Petty said, “CILs will work with health departments, communities, and states to knock down vaccination barriers.” Petty continued, “peer support and consumer control in decision-making practiced in CILs will help people with disabilities to make good decisions about receiving vaccinations.”

Grant-based funding will be provided through the DVAO Center to 100 or more CILs across the nation. CILs not funded through the CARES Act and not previously recipients of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding are eligible to submit an application; this group of CILs includes CILs funded through Part B of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) and/or CILs funded with state and local funding. Awards for up to $50,000 for individual CILs are anticipated. Interested eligible CILs are encouraged to submit an application for funding by responding to the request for applications. Eligible CILs can apply via the online application by 12:00 pm (Noon) EDT on October 15, 2021.

The DVAO Center will create training, educational materials, information resources, and conduct direct technical assistance consulting for grant recipient CILs and other CILs to assist them in aiding people with disabilities who are local CIL constituents. The DVAO Center will assist CILs to connect with health departments and other local agencies responsible for vaccine distribution. CILs and health departments will participate in training and technical assistance provided through the DVAO Center.

“CDC is wise to target this program to CILs,” said ILRU’s Richard Petty. “CILs are the most trusted local resource for people with disabilities of all ages in communities across our nation. No other community-based organizations conduct advocacy and operate with the control of people with disabilities.”

The Disability Vaccine Access Opportunities Center will be operated with grant funding of $6,372,572 granted by the CDC Foundation and awarded to Able SC, which will collaborate with ILRU. Funding for this effort is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

ABOUT ABLE SOUTH CAROLINA: Able SC is a change agent committed to fostering an equitable society that empowers individuals with disabilities to live fully engaged and self-directed lives. Able SC is an organization led by individuals with disabilities that challenges stereotypes and promotes disability rights and justice. To learn more about Able SC’s programs and services, visit

ABOUT INDEPENDENT LIVING RESEARCH UTILIZATION (ILRU): ILRU at TIRR Memorial Hermann, founded in 1977, has a long history of providing research, education, and consultation in the areas of independent living, home and community-based services, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. ILRU is operated by community living and disability law experts with disabilities. To learn more about ILRU, visit

See the Request for Application

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