[Federal Register: March 24, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 56)]
[Page 14249-14252]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part III

Department of Education


National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; Final 
Funding Priority for Fiscal Years 1998-99 and Inviting Applications for 
a New Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center; Notices

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National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; 
Notice of a Final Funding Priority for Fiscal Years 1998-1999 for a 
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center

AGENCY: Department of Education.

SUMMARY: The Secretary announces a final funding priority for a 
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) under the National 
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) for fiscal 
years 1998-1999. The Secretary takes this action to focus research 
attention on an area of national need. This priority is intended to 
improve rehabilitation services and outcomes for individuals with 

EFFECTIVE DATE: This priority takes effect on April 23, 1998.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 205-
5880. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the TDD number at (202) 205-2742. Internet: 
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternate format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed in the preceding 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice contains a final priority under 
the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers program 
for an RERC related to improved technology access for land mine 
    The authority for RERCs is contained in section 204(b)(3) of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 762(b)(3)). Under 
this program the Secretary makes awards to public and private agencies 
and organizations, including institutions of higher education, Indian 
tribes, and tribal organizations, to conduct research, demonstration, 
and training activities regarding rehabilitation technology in order to 
enhance opportunities for meeting the needs of, and addressing the 
barriers confronted by, individuals with disabilities in all aspects of 
their lives. An RERC must be operated by or in collaboration with an 
institution of higher education or a nonprofit organization.
    The authority for the Secretary to establish research priorities by 
reserving funds to support particular research activities is contained 
in sections 202(g) and 204 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as 
amended (29 U.S.C. 761a(g) and 762).

    Note: This notice of a final priority does not solicit 
applications. A notice inviting applications under this competition 
is published in this issue of the Federal Register.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    On January 27, 1998, the Secretary published a notice of a proposed 
priority in the Federal Register (63 FR 4148-4150). The Department of 
Education received 3 letters commenting on the notice of a proposed 
priority by the deadline date. Technical and other minor changes--and 
suggested changes the Secretary is not legally authorized to make under 
statutory authority--are not addressed.
    Comment: The fields of medicine, engineering, and prosthetics and 
orthotics will play critical roles in the successful completion of this 
project. These disciplines should be appropriately represented on the 
RERC's staff and the principal investigator should be recruited from 
one of these three disciplines.
    Discussion: Individuals with backgrounds in these three disciplines 
are expected to make significant contributions to the completion of the 
project. Applicants have the discretion to propose key personnel, and 
an applicant could propose to have a principal investigator with a 
background in medicine, engineering, or prosthetics and orthotics. The 
peer review process will evaluate the merits of the proposed personnel.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Information is needed on the various types of injuries 
that occur in land mine incidents. Land mine incidents almost always 
result in the need for lower limb amputation. However, we have 
insufficient information on the nature and number of incidents that 
also result in concomitant visual and hearing deficits, or severe 
facial scarring. In addition, the RERC should develop ``special 
technical assistance'' to aid survivors with disabilities in addition 
to lower limb amputation.
    Discussion: The RERC is required to ``Identify the needs of land 
mine survivors for other types of rehabilitation technologies which may 
include but need not be limited to vision, hearing and speech aids, and 
wheelchairs.'' In carrying out this activity, the RERC will address the 
commenter's concern regarding technical assistance and generate 
information on the rehabilitation needs of persons who experience 
concomitant visual and hearing deficits or severe facial scarring that 
occur in land mine incidents. The priority does not authorize the RERC 
to conduct survey research on the number of such incidents because it 
is outside the scope of the congressional mandate and the resources 
allocated to this RERC.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: The RERC should be required to develop economically 
effective systems for the delivery of prosthetic services for amputees 
whose stump conditions require surgical or other therapeutic 
intervention prior to prosthetic management.
    Discussion: Issues related to person or device interfaces are 
important in prosthetic research and development. An applicant could 
propose to address surgical or other interventions preliminary to 
prosthetic applications. The peer review process will evaluate the 
merits of the proposal. However, addressing surgical or other 
interventions preliminary to prosthetic applications is not required 
because there is insufficient evidence about the unique aspects of this 
problem related to land mine incidents to warrant requiring all 
applicants to conduct this study.
    Changes: None.

Description of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center 

    RERCs carry out research or demonstration activities by:
    (a) Developing and disseminating innovative methods of applying 
advanced technology, scientific achievement, and psychological and 
social knowledge to (1) solve rehabilitation problems and remove 
environmental barriers, and (2) study new or emerging technologies, 
products, or environments;
    (b) Demonstrating and disseminating (1) innovative models for the 
delivery of cost-effective rehabilitation technology services to rural 
and urban areas, and (2) other scientific research to assist in meeting 
the employment and independent living needs of individuals with severe 
disabilities; or
    (c) Facilitating service delivery systems change through (1) the 
development, evaluation, and dissemination of consumer-responsive and 
individual and family centered innovative models for the delivery to 
both rural and urban areas of innovative cost-effective rehabilitation 
technology services, and (2) other scientific research to assist in 
meeting the employment and independent living needs of individuals with 
severe disabilities.
    Each RERC must provide training opportunities to individuals, 
including individuals with disabilities, to become researchers of 
rehabilitation technology

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and practitioners of rehabilitation technology in conjunction with 
institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations.


    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), the Secretary gives an absolute 
preference to applications that meet the following priority. The 
Secretary will fund under this competition only applications that meet 
this absolute priority.

Priority: Improved Technology Access for Land Mine Survivors Background

    In the House Report accompanying the appropriations for the 
Department of Education, it is stated that:
    The Committee has included up to $850,000 within the amounts 
available to NIDRR to establish, through a competitive award, a 
rehabilitation engineering research center dealing with the unique 
needs of land mine survivors. The center is to operate in cooperation 
with an institution of higher education involved in both rehabilitation 
medicine and engineering research, training and service and is to focus 
on the unique rehabilitation needs of the victims of land mine 
injuries. Specifically, the center is to focus on the development of 
inexpensive replacement limbs; the development and dissemination of 
educational materials on prosthetics, and other appropriate prosthetic, 
orthotic, or assistive technology devices; and the training of health 
care providers in effective methods of assistance to this population.
    In response to this directive, the Secretary is establishing the 
following priority. Both the Congress and NIDRR are aware of the 
historic significance of periods of international conflict in 
stimulating the science of rehabilitation to develop solutions to the 
impairments caused by sustained large-scale violence. Most recently, 
survivors of land mine injuries in dozens of nations in Latin America, 
Europe, Africa, and Asia are in need of innovative solutions to address 
the loss of limbs and other conditions such as sensory impairments, 
communication impairments, burns, and other conditions caused by anti-
personnel land mines.
    Because most of those with unmet needs are located in countries 
that are either not industrialized, lack infrastructures for 
rehabilitative services, or lack economic resources, the approaches to 
meeting these needs must be tailored to their particular circumstances. 
Solutions, which will focus on, but not be limited to, limb 
replacement, must be suitable for the available materials, resources, 
and expertise in the relevant countries, and must also concentrate on 
building capacity in those nations for design and fitting, manufacture, 
distribution, maintenance, and provision of supports and services. This 
RERC will have broad scope in the development of devices through 
scientific methods, training of indigenous scientists, service 
providers, and advocates, and transferring technology to the local 
    There are many national and international organizations that play a 
role in addressing the problems of land mine survivors and the Center 
should involve relevant organizations in appropriate roles in Center 
operations. Included in this group are organizations of survivors 
themselves; such consumer organizations are important targets of 
education, information, and training, particularly in the areas of 
self-help, maintenance of devices, and the need for accommodations, 
supports, and follow up care. Because so many of the victims of land 
mines are children, special attention must be directed toward the 
special needs of children who are growing and developing, and for whom 
most prostheses or orthoses therefore will have a limited period of 
utility. The Center may opt to address these problems through 
technological solutions where feasible, or through partnerships that 
will provide ongoing care and support.
    The work of this RERC will have implications for the United States 
population as well. There is a continuing need for new and different 
types of prostheses and orthoses in the United States and other 
developed nations, with special need for prosthetic and orthotic 
devices and other rehabilitation technology that is suitable for 
different climates, low-cost, and appropriate in various cultures. New 
conditions of health care delivery portend limited resources for 
rehabilitation technologies and services and durable medical equipment; 
thus there will be a greater emphasis on durability, endurance, cost 
containment, and ease of maintenance. This Center's activities will 
contribute to advancing science, broadening knowledge of materials and 
methods, and increasing our understanding of and sensitivity to 
cultural and economic concerns in provision of these rehabilitation 
    Priority: The Secretary will establish an RERC to address the 
unique rehabilitation needs of land mine survivors through developing 
and testing appropriate innovative replacement limbs (particularly low-
cost limbs suitable for developing economies), and other prosthetic and 
orthotic devices; training indigenous technicians, manufacturers, and 
health care providers in the fabrication and fitting of appropriate 
devices; and educating land mine survivors and their families. The RERC 
    (1) Develop a sound scientific process for evaluating the 
suitability of existing devices, assessing user needs, developing new 
and innovative designs, and testing inexpensive replacement limbs, 
prototypes of prostheses, orthoses, and other appropriate 
rehabilitation technology devices;
    (2) Identify and evaluate existing technologies and systems used 
for limb replacement and related rehabilitation technology in various 
nations where there are extensive land mine injuries;
    (3) Demonstrate the suitability of proposed devices in terms of 
cost-effectiveness and appropriateness to the indigenous economies, 
including available materials, work force capabilities, and 
infrastructure capacity for timely production and delivery of devices;
    (4) Identify the needs of land mine survivors for other types of 
rehabilitation technologies which may include but need not be limited 
to vision, hearing and speech aids, and wheelchairs;
    (5) Develop and maintain a database to track and correlate consumer 
needs and characteristics, device specification and performance, and 
outcomes and conduct a definitive evaluation of the products and 
    In carrying out the purposes of the priority, the RERC must:
    * Address the needs of land mine survivors of all ages, with
particular attention to systems for meeting the changing needs of 
growing children;
    * Conduct, in the third year of the award, a state-of-the-
science conference and provide NIDRR with a report on this conference 
by the end of the fourth year;
    * Conduct training of health care providers in affected
nations in effective methods of providing rehabilitative assistance to 
this population; and
    * Collaborate with key international organizations and
government agencies in the affected nations, with consumer 
organizations of land mine survivors, and with rehabilitation 
researchers and service providers, and other Federal agencies including 
the Department of Defense, the Agency for International Development, 
the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Veterans' 

Electronic Access to This Document

    Anyone may view this document, as well as all other Department of

[[Page 14252]]

Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or 
portable document format (pdf) on the World Wide Web at either of the 
following sites:


    To use the pdf you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader Program with 
Search, which is available free at either of the preceding sites. If 
you have questions about using the pdf, call the U.S. Government 
Printing Office toll free at 1-888-293-6498.
    Anyone may also view these documents in text copy only on an 
electronic bulletin board of the Department. Telephone: (202) 219-1511 
or, toll free, 1-800-222-4922. The documents are located under Option 
G--Files/Announcements, Bulletins and Press Releases.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register.

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR Part 350.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 760-762.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.133E, 
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers)

    Dated: March 18, 1998.
Judith E. Heumann,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 98-7577 Filed 3-23-98; 8:45 am]