The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center is a leader in law, technology, education, and research. We are focused on improving the quality of life for persons living with disabilities. Based at the University of Iowa College of Law, the Center concentrates on public policy and its impact on persons with disabilities, with an emphasis on employment, self-determination and self-sufficiency.

The Center's unique location in a college of law and its partnerships with colleges of medicine and public health promote multidisciplinary approaches to research, education and outreach. Using an internship and team approach with real-world projects, we educate the next generation of legal, sociology, social work, and public health professionals who will influence public policy through their work.

Work at the Center includes basic and policy research, evaluation, and outreach. Our knowledge utilization activities include web-based dissemination, and public speaking. We publish in both non-reviewed and peer-reviewed journals, to share our research outcomes


Students and professionals from varied disciplines  come together at the Center to seek the following educational objectives:

  • Develop presentation skills for scholarly and professional audiences
  • Develop writing skills in areas of social sciences research and policy analysis for scholarly, practitioner, and consumer publications
  • Study related legal, legislative, and policymaking issues
  • Develop awareness of disability issues in employment, society, and social services

As part of the Center's efforts to train and supervise students, we have offered several opportunities.

  • Internship opportunities for Social Work and Sociology students.
  • Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) for graduate education to provide students entering graduate programs an opportunity to engage in relevant research and evaluation activities.


The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center conducts basic and applied research. Current research topics include health research, research on multimedia informed consent and jail diversion research for people with disabilities.

We partner with private, state, and federal agencies and receive funding to conduct research from the Nellie Ball Trust, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, state and local agencies such as Polk County Regional Mental Health and Disability Services Governing Board.

Jail Diversion Research

The Jail Diversion Program has been in place in Polk County Jail for over a decade with the goal of helping the jail's population with serious mental illness to return to the community safely and to reduce the chances they will reoffend in the future. The purpose of this research is to use data that are currently available to investigate the factors that lead to desired outcomes or create challenges to the success of the program.

Informed Consent Research

Informed consent is effective only if individuals are presented with the relevant, legally required information about the research study and understand that information sufficiently to make an informed decision. LHPDC, collaborating with individuals from the UI College of Medicine, Bioethics, and external research and healthcare institutions, have been conducting research on the effects of multimedia and interactivity for improving patient comprehension and trust in the informed consent process.

More about LHPDC research projects.


Polk County Health Services Evaluation

LHPDC conducts an annual independent evaluation for the Polk County Mental Health and Disability Services Region via Polk County Health Services in Des Moines, Iowa, to help improve services for individuals with disabilities in the Des Moines area. The Polk Region advocates for people with disabilities by helping them pursue employment and education, using an array of educational, training, and employment services. Funding comes from a contract with the Polk County Region.

Southeast ADA Center Technical Assistance

LHPDC provides technical assistance and website support for the Southeast ADA Center, who does training and guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act to the U.S. Southeast. Funding is through a subcontract from the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University from a grant by a National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research Grant (90DP0090-01-00).

UI Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

The University of Iowa is located on the homelands of the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe (Chippewa), Báxoǰe (Iowa), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Omāēqnomenēwak (Menominee), Myaamiaki (Miami), Nutachi (Missouri), Umoⁿhoⁿ (Omaha), Wahzhazhe (Osage), Jiwere (Otoe), Odawaa (Ottawa), Póⁿka (Ponca), Bodéwadmi/Neshnabé (Potawatomi), Meskwaki/Nemahahaki/Sakiwaki (Sac and Fox), Dakota/Lakota/Nakoda, Sahnish/Nuxbaaga/Nuweta (Three Affiliated Tribes) and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) Nations. The following tribal nations, Umoⁿhoⁿ (Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa), Póⁿka (Ponca Tribe of Nebraska), Meskwaki (Sac and Fox of the Mississippi in Iowa), and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) Nations continue to thrive in the State of Iowa and we continue to acknowledge them. As an academic institution, it is our responsibility to acknowledge the sovereignty and the traditional territories of these tribal nations, and the treaties that were used to remove these tribal nations, and the histories of dispossession that have allowed for the growth of this institution since 1847. Consistent with the University's commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, understanding the historical and current experiences of Indigenous peoples will help inform the work we do; collectively as a university to engage in building relationships through academic scholarship, collaborative partnerships, community service, enrollment and retention efforts acknowledging our past, our present and future Native Nations.