consumer and industry direction for the application of emerging technologies, and product developers can find commercialization assistance.
The use of the Internet is central to CATN, particularly because of the Internet's multimedia accessibility capabilities for people with disabilities. The CATN Internet's communication coordination facilitates and demonstrates the distribution and translation of assistive technology transfer requests or ''cases" between consumers-providers and the engineers, researchers, and product developers.
The National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) is an information service established by NIDRR in 1979. NARIC attempts to collect and disseminate publications and material pertinent to disability issues, as well as the results of federally funded research projects; NARIC acts as a library in that regard. Another information resource is ABLEDATA, is a national database that contains descriptions of some 22,000 commercially available assistive devices and new designs for accessibility. This provides the opportunity to link companies, universities, or individuals who have new rehabilitation equipment with others who need those products. Both ABLEDATA and NARIC provided information on disk and cassette, in large print, in braille, and over the Internet. Staff members of both projects can assist with a search if necessary. However, the utility of NARIC and similar approaches is largely unknown, and should be subjected to scientifically acceptable cost-benefit analyses.
One of the major objectives of rehabilitation science and engineering research is to develop interventions that effectively limit disabling conditions and the environmental factors that contribute to the disabling process. Accomplishing this will require an effective dissemination of knowledge, both to consumers and to others who can develop products and services. Barriers to such dissemination include: (1) limited research, and (2) even more limited mechanisms for technology transfer. In contrast to other medically oriented technology transfer methods, rehabilitation science and engineering requires transfer mechanisms that go beyond physicians to include the spectrum of rehabilitation professionals, as well as people with disabling conditions and their families, architects, engineers, and policy makers (including elected officials, insurers, and administrators).
The following recommendations are presented to facilitate the development of technology transfer mechanisms that will improve the commu-