IRI History

A non-profit organization providing services to blind and visually impaired individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, IRI (formerly known as Independence Residences, Incorporated) was established through the advocacy efforts of a small group of parents.In 1984, Co-founders, Elaine Radisch and Judita Prelog explained, “We love our children and have been caring for them at home, but as we are getting older and “aging out” we wanted to support their adjustment to a group home that provides superior care.”They began advocating on behalf of their adult children and approximately twenty individuals between the ages of 30 and 45 who attended a sheltered workshop together. These individuals had a combination of the following: blindness, hearing impairments, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and seizures.They discovered that existing organizations either did not have any openings or did not feel qualified to take on cases that presented with multiple disabilities. Lacking a current system that could provide for their children, they realized their only hope was to establish the residences themselves.The challenge they faced was establishing an organization capable of serving the special needs of individuals that other organization could not. Today, IRI maintains the distinction of providing care for more complex cases that other organizations are unable to.After four years of advocacy—petitioning the NYS Commissioner of Mental Health and the Office of Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD), exploring operation and business plans, and grassroots fundraising—the organization received incorporation in 1988. Soon after an Executive Director was hired, a two-room office rented, and the first group home opened in 1992.Since then thirty-four more residences were established and services expanded. In July 2016, Queens Parent Resource Center (QPRC), founded by Ana Magalee, a parent with a child with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD), merged with Independence Residences, Inc. to share resources with the goal of extending comprehensive care to a greater number of individuals.The new organization became Innovative Resources for Independence (IRI).

IRI Today

In May 2018, IRI’s Board of Directors appointed Gilbert Louis, Ed.D. as IRI's Chief Executive Officer with the mandate to focus on quality of life enhancements, including nutrition and the development of a robust therapeutic recreation program; service improvement utilizing evidence-based practices; and ensure the agency's financial operations capable of supporting planned growth and thriving in a Medicaid Managed Care environment. Today, Dr. Louis and his dedicated Executive Team guide and maintain the dignity and success of IRI as it stays true to its original mission:

  • Provide a supportive and safe living environment that encourages the growth of the individual and supports independence (incorporating technology and other creative tools)
  • Guarantee individuals dignity, fulfillment and inclusion
  • Provide services with excellence, compassion and mutual respect for individuals, families and staff
  • Continue to provide and develop resources for those most in need


IRI has a $40 million in annual revenues and operates in Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn, and the Bronx offering:

  • Residential Services, including Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF)
  • Supportive Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA)
  • Individual Supports and Services (ISS)
  • In-Home Supportive Services (HSS)
  • Day Habilitation
  • Supportive Employment (SEMP)
  • Community Habilitation
  • Respite Care
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Non-Medicaid Care Management Services (MSC)
  • Outreach
  • Family Reimbursement Programs

IRI is governed by a Board of Directors (including family members of individuals who receive care from IRI), who volunteer their time, energy and talents. The Board, in consult with the Executive Director, helps set the agency culture, current strategic plan, and provide the foundation for a strong partnership with the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Proloquo 2

What is it? A fully customizable communication application that interfaces with smart phones and tablets. The app is programmed with picture/icon representations of words and common phrases that the user can string together to communicate a thought.

How does it help? This is an indispensable communication aid for non-verbal individuals

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Telehealth Services

How does it work? Individuals can have their vital signs taken right in their homes. The information is digitally recorded providing personalized biometrics that help detect medical conditions earlier based on trended data. This service also provides virtual intervention between nurses and individuals using a smart tablet.

How does it help? Medical staff is more knowledgeable about patients’ care in between visits. These services also greatly reduce hospitalizations therefore also reducing the number of disruptions for individuals in their homes.

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Pulseox Monitor

How does it work? Remotely monitors oxygen levels of individuals with respiratory issues. Allows nurse to monitor the oxygen level remotely.

How does it help? Helps to remotely monitor blood oxygen levels and send an alert to the nurse if levels are imbalanced.

On The Leading Edge of Technology

GPS Watch

How does it work? Individuals can travel safely and unsupervised. Individuals simply wear the watch that communicates to an app used by IRI staff.

How does it help? This technology prevents individuals from getting lost. Staff can also see where individuals are without having to be there in person.

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Home Sensor Technology

How does it work? A suite of interactive sensors is outfitted on kitchen appliances and above doors. If an individual, living in their own apartment, turns the stove on, then exits the kitchen, IRI will get an alert. If the individual leaves the house at an unusual time, we will also be alerted.

How does it help? This provides un-invasive oversight. Individuals can live independently with confidence. It also reduces the need for in-person staffing.

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Medication Wheel

How does it work? This simple device alerts individuals when a medication dose is due, then opens to dispense medication. If the medication is not taken or the wheel is not closed properly, IRI will be alerted.

How does it help? For those individuals living in apartments or homes, they can now take medication without staff intervention.

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Samsung Galaxy Tablets

How does it work? There are many existing applications, and new ones being developed every day that are targeted to assist disabled individuals in enhancing their abilities

How does it help? Allows us to use a variety of online applications that support the abilities of the users

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Amazon Echo

How does it work? Wirelessly controls lighting and other devices through voice commands.

How does it help? Helps individuals who are otherwise unable to manually operate devices to do so independently.

On The Leading Edge of Technology

Pressure Pads in Beds

How does it work? Allows the staff to monitor bed time routines when people are in and out of bed with a remote monitor; a notification goes to remote staff person when a person has gone to bed and if they get up during the night for an extended period of time.

How does it help? Helps ensure safety by sending staff an alert when an individual is out of bed during the night.