(IOM, 2007, p. 10) examined progress made since the earlier reports and looked at continuing barriers that limit the independence, productivity, and participation in community life of people with disabilities, concluding that “disability is not an unavoidable consequence of injury and chronic disease but is substantially affected by the actions that society takes.”

All these reports were produced by committees appointed in accordance with guidelines of the National Academies and met multiples times to compile and review evidence, reach consensus on conclusions and recommendations, draft a report of the committee, and then modify that draft report in response to comments from outside reviewers. The IOM and NRC have also held several workshops related to aging, disability, and technology and published summary reports, such as Technology for Adaptive Aging (NRC, 2004) and Grand Challenges of Our Aging Society (NRC, 2010). The IOM and NRC also convene groups that take a different approach to issues of pressing national and international importance. Often known as forums or roundtables, these groups meet regularly to foster dialogue and confront issues of mutual interest and concern among a broad range of stakeholders. They can convene workshops, initiate cooperative projects among members, commission independently authored articles, and generate ideas for independent consensus studies.

In 2012 the IOM and NRC joined together to establish the Forum on Aging, Disability, and Independence to provide a neutral venue for broad-ranging discussions among the many stakeholders involved with aging and disability.2 The goals of the forum are to highlight areas in which the coordination of the aging and disability networks is strong, examine the challenges involved in aligning the aging and disability networks, explore new approaches for resolving problem areas, elevate the visibility and broaden the perspectives of stakeholders, and set the stage for future policy actions. Forum sponsors and members include federal agencies, health professional associations, private sector businesses, academics, and consumers.


The summary of the 1991 report Disability in America (IOM, 1991) stated the following:

Disability is the expression of a physical or mental limitation in a social context—the gap between a person’s capabilities and the demands of the environment. People with such functional limitations are not inherently disabled, that is, incapable of carrying out their personal, familial, and social responsibilities. It is the interaction of their physical or mental limitations with social and environmental factors that determines whether they


2 The forum website is www.iom.edu/ADIForum.

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