[Federal Register: September 12, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 177)]
[Notices]               
[Page 57929-57934]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12se02-136]                         


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Part III





Department of Education





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Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program; Notices


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program

AGENCY: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priorities.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces final priorities on Health Services 
Research; Mental Health Service Delivery to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and 
Deaf-Blind Individuals from Diverse Racial, Ethnic, and Linguistic 
Backgrounds; and Developing Models To Promote the Use of NIDRR Research 
under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) 
Program of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research (NIDRR). The Assistant Secretary may use these priorities for 
competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2003 and later years. We take this 
action to focus research attention on an identified national need. We 
intend these priorities to improve rehabilitation services and outcomes 
for individuals with disabilities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: These priorities are effective October 15, 2002.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3412, Switzer Building, 
Washington, DC 20202-2645. Telephone: (202) 205-5880 or via the 
Internet: donna.nangle@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the TDD number at (202) 205-4475.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program

    The purpose of the DRRP Program is to plan and conduct research, 
demonstration projects, training, and related activities that help to 
maximize the full inclusion and integration of individuals with 
disabilities into society and to improve the effectiveness of services 
authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (the Act).

New Freedom Initiative and The NIDRR Long-Range Plan

    This priority reflects issues discussed in the New Freedom 
Initiative (NFI) and NIDRR's Long-Range Plan (the Plan). The NFI can be 
accessed on the Internet at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/freedominitiative/freedominiative.html.
    The Plan can be accessed on the Internet at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/NIDRR/Products.

Supplementary Information: General

    We published a notice of proposed priority (NPP) for Health 
Services Research projects in the Federal Register on May 29, 2002 (67 
FR 37655). We also published separate NPPs for Mental Health Service 
Delivery to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Individuals from 
Diverse Racial, Ethnic, and Linguistic Backgrounds in the Federal 
Register on May 29, 2002 (67 FR 37653) and for Developing Models To 
Promote the Use of NIDRR Research under the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects in the Federal Register on May 29, 
2002 (67 FR 37647). We have combined in this notice of final priorities 
(NFP) three priorities. This NFP contains several significant changes 
from the NPPs. Specifically, for the Mental Health Service Delivery to 
Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Individuals from Diverse Racial, 
Ethnic, and Linguistic Backgrounds, we have made changes to include a 
question pertaining to the criminal justice system; an additional 
requirement that family members, as well as deaf, hard-of-hearing, and 
deaf-blind mental health consumers from diverse backgrounds be included 
in all stages of research; and that question (2) regarding model 
psychological testing instruments and mental health outcome measures be 
split into two separate research questions. For the Developing Models 
To Promote the Use of NIDRR Research under the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects, we have made three changes. We have 
added the words ``principally'', ``alternative'', and ``rehabilitation 
researchers'' and ``family members'' to the priority.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to our invitation in the NPPs, several parties 
submitted comments on the proposed priorities (three parties for the 
Health Services Research, twenty parties for the Mental Health Service 
Delivery to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Individuals from 
Diverse Racial, Ethnic, and Linguistic Backgrounds, and two parties for 
the Developing Models To Promote the Use of NIDRR Research under the 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects). We fully discuss 
these comments as well as changes made in the Analysis of Comments and 
Changes published as an appendix to this notice.
    The backgrounds for the priorities were published in the NPPs.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes and 
suggested changes the law does not authorize us to make under the 
applicable statutory authority.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use one or more of these priorities, we invite 
applications through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting 
applications we designate the priority as absolute, competitive 
preference, or invitational. The effect of each type of priority 
follows:

    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent to 
which the application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or 
(2) selecting an application that meets the priority over an 
application of comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational 
priority. However, an application that meets the invitational priority 
does not receive competitive or absolute preference over other 
applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

Priorities

Priority 1--Health Services Research Projects

    This priority is intended to improve delivery of health services to 
individuals with disabilities. An applicant must propose research 
projects under one of the following specific topic areas:
    (1) Availability and Access to Community-Based Health Services. To 
be funded under the priority, a project must:
    (a) Investigate the availability and accessibility of community-
based health services for individuals with disabilities who move from 
institutional care to community living or who are at risk for 
institutional care;
    (b) Document the extent to which access to appropriate health 
services, including home-health, is a component of State task force 
recommendations

[[Page 57931]]

regarding transitioning of individuals from institutional to community 
settings; and
    (c) Evaluate the role of accessible community-based mental health 
services in the successful integration of individuals with long-term 
mental illness into community settings.
    (1) Impact of the Prospective Payment System for Medical 
Rehabilitation. To be funded under the priority, a project must:
    (a) Evaluate the impact of the prospective payment system for 
medical rehabilitation on access to medical rehabilitation services by 
individuals with disabilities, examining the impact on settings, 
services, and length of stay; and
    (b) Identify the impact of multiple, health-related conditions, 
commonly called co-morbidities, on classification and reimbursement in 
the medical rehabilitation prospective payment system.
    (3) Analysis of Quality Indicators for Assessing Health Services 
Provided to Individuals with Disabilities. To be funded under the 
priority, a project must:
    (a) Conduct an assessment of the use of quality indicators in both 
the private and public sectors to determine the extent to which the 
needs of individuals with disabilities are reflected in these 
indicators;
    (b) Examine the relationship of function and disability in defining 
the population of individuals with disabilities to whom the indicators 
are applied; and
    (c) Determine how individuals with disabilities, payers, and 
providers use information from quality assessment of medical 
rehabilitation services.
    In addition, each project must:
    [sbull] Consult with the NIDRR-funded National Center for the 
Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR) to develop and implement, 
in the first year of the grant, a plan to disseminate the DRRP's 
research results to: disability organizations, individuals with 
disabilities or their family members or both, researchers, providers, 
and policymakers; and
    [sbull] Ensure the participation of individuals with disabilities 
in all phases of the research and dissemination activities.

Priority 2--Mental Health Service Delivery to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, 
and Deaf-Blind Individuals From Diverse Racial, Ethnic, and Linguistic 
Backgrounds

    This priority is intended to enhance the quality of the delivery of 
mental health services for deaf, hard-of-hearing, or deaf-blind 
individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. 
For purposes of this priority, ``individuals from diverse linguistic 
backgrounds'' includes not only individuals who are fluent in languages 
other than English, but also individuals with minimal language skills 
who are not fluent in any language.
    To be funded under this priority, a project must choose at least 
one, but no more than four, of the following research activities:
    (1) Investigate, compare, and evaluate the effectiveness of mental 
health services provided by mental health providers using qualified 
sign language interpreters as opposed to services provided by mental 
health providers fluent in sign language. The research project must 
consider the educational, clinical, and professional credentials of 
each provider.
    (2) Investigate, evaluate, and develop, as needed, model 
psychological testing instruments for deaf, hard-of-hearing, or deaf-
blind individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic 
backgrounds.
    (3) Identify, evaluate, and develop, as needed, for use in mental 
health settings, model communication strategies for individuals with 
minimal language skills who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or deaf-blind.
    (4) Identify and evaluate factors that assist or hinder entrance 
into the delivery system of mental health services for deaf, hard-of-
hearing, or deaf-blind individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and 
linguistic backgrounds.
    (5) Identify and evaluate factors that have an impact on the 
effectiveness of the delivery of mental health services to deaf, hard-
of-hearing, or deaf-blind individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and 
linguistic backgrounds.
    (6) Investigate and evaluate factors that have an impact on mental 
health service provision in the criminal justice system to deaf, hard-
of-hearing, and deaf-blind individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and 
linguistic backgrounds, including individuals with minimal language 
skills.
    (7) Investigate, evaluate, and develop, as needed, mental health 
outcome measures for deaf, hard-of-hearing, or deaf-blind individuals 
from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds.
    In addition, each project must:
    [sbull] Involve deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind mental health 
consumers from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds in 
all phases of research, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Involve family members of deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-
blind mental health consumers from diverse racial, ethnic, and 
linguistic backgrounds in all phases of research, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Involve individuals with disabilities and individuals from 
diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds in all phases of 
research, as appropriate.
    [sbull] As directed by the NIDRR project officer for these 
programs, collaborate with other NIDRR projects and the National Center 
for the Dissemination of Disability Research.

Priority 3--Developing Models To Promote the Use of NIDRR Research

    This priority is intended to establish a project that will develop 
and test models for increasing the effective use of NIDRR research 
results.
    To be funded under this priority a project must--
    (1) Analyze research information principally produced by NIDRR 
grantees to determine the extent to which any of the information has 
not been disseminated or has been disseminated but not effectively 
used.
    (2) Develop models for particular kinds of information, such as 
engineering, health, employment, education, and independent living, and 
for particular intended groups such as professionals, individuals with 
disabilities, their family members, and researchers.
    (3) Describe the models and prepare training materials in 
accessible and alternative formats to assist others to use the models.
    (4) Test each model.
    (5) Evaluate the success of each model.
    In carrying out these activities, the project must:
    [sbull] Provide training for NIDRR research projects and centers;
    [sbull] Ensure the relevance of all activities to rehabilitation 
researchers, individuals with disabilities, and their family members;
    [sbull] Include techniques to reach individuals from diverse 
racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds; and
    [sbull] Collaborate with NIDRR-funded projects and centers.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may review this document, as well as all other Department of

[[Page 57932]]

Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO access at: http://
www.access.gpo.gov/nara/index.html.


(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.133A, Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Projects)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b).

    Dated: September 9, 2002.
Robert H. Pasternack,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Appendix

Analysis of Comments and Changes

Priority 1--Health Services Research

    Comment: Two commenters suggested that NIDRR add depression or 
other psychological conditions to the study of prospective payment 
in medical rehabilitation.
    Discussion: Applicants could choose to propose a study 
pertaining to depression or other psychological conditions and the 
prospective payment system in medical rehabilitation; however, NIDRR 
has no basis to determine that all applicants should be required to 
focus on these issues. The peer review process will evaluate the 
merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked for clarification of whether the 
priority focuses exclusively on acute rehabilitation and not other 
levels and settings of care.
    Discussion: Applicants could choose to propose a study that 
examines the range of rehabilitation settings; however, the peer 
review process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked whether the priority should focus 
on longer intervals of care, rather than a single inpatient 
rehabilitation admission.
    Discussion: Applicants could choose to propose a study that 
focuses on longer intervals of care; however, NIDRR has no basis to 
determine that all applicants should be required to focus on this 
issue. The peer review process will evaluate the merits of the 
proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked whether NIDDR would allow 
applicants to propose related projects within a single proposal. 
This commenter was concerned because relevant Medicare data for 
examining the impact of Prospective Payment System (PPS) will not be 
available until later in the time period for the proposed grant 
award(s).
    Discussion: Applicants could choose to propose related projects 
during the course of the study; the peer review process will 
evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked whether priority (2)(b) duplicates 
work that the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) plans 
to perform to recalculate medical rehabilitation prospective payment 
adjustments and asked if there were specific issues about this 
process of concern to NIDRR, such as ``omitted comorbidity codes in 
the IRF-PAI, inconsistent coding of comorbidities, or comorbidities 
that develop or become apparent after an inpatient rehabilitation 
hospitalization.''
    Discussion: NIDRR is not specifying that applicants duplicate 
work being undertaken by CMS. It is anticipated that NIDRR's 
research will build on and support research being done at CMS by 
focusing on issues specifically affecting provision of and access to 
medical rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. To 
the extent that the topic examples provided in the comment meet this 
expectation, applicants could choose to propose research on one of 
these areas. The peer review process will evaluate the merits of the 
proposals.
    Changes: None.

Priority 2--Mental Health Service Delivery to Deaf, Hard of 
Hearing, and Deaf-Blind Individuals From Diverse Racial, Ethnic, 
and Linguistic Backgrounds

    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the priority include 
mental health service delivery to deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-
blind individuals in the criminal justice system, including both 
prisons and courtrooms. Competency determinations, particularly for 
deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind persons with limited language 
abilities, therapies and psycho-educational programs within the 
prison system, communications accessibility and general mental 
health service delivery were described as areas in need of research.
    Discussion: A review of the literature reveals a paucity of 
published information regarding mental health service delivery to 
deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind individuals in the criminal 
justice system. This indeed suggests a need for further study and 
research.
    Changes: The final priority invites applicants to investigate 
and evaluate factors that have an impact on mental health service 
provision in the criminal justice system to deaf, hard-of-hearing, 
and deaf-blind individuals from diverse racial, ethnic, and 
linguistic backgrounds.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that the priority include 
a focus on mental health service delivery to deaf, hard-of-hearing, 
and deaf-blind children.
    Discussion: NIDRR agrees that a focus on children would be 
worthwhile, and applicants may submit applications in this area. 
However, NIDRR has no basis to determine that all applicants should 
be required to focus on these issues. The peer review process will 
evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that funding eligibility be 
prioritized to State Departments of Mental Health Research 
Divisions, with academic institution support and consultation.
    Discussion: U.S. Department of Education regulations 
implementing the Rehabilitation Act (34 CFR 350.3) stipulate who is 
eligible for an award. States and institutions of higher education 
are included on that list, as are public or private agencies, 
including for-profit agencies, public or private organizations, 
including for-profit organizations, and Indian tribes and tribal 
organizations. NIDRR will consider applications from any applicant 
that meets the statutory requirements under the funding authority. 
The peer review process will evaluate the merits of submitted 
proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested a focus on mental health 
service delivery in rural areas.
    Discussion: NIDRR is concerned about mental health service 
delivery in rural areas. Applicants may propose to study service 
delivery in rural areas under questions (4) or (5); however, NIDRR 
has no basis to determine that all applicants should be required to 
focus on these issues. The peer review process will evaluate the 
merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested that the priority require that 
deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind mental health consumers from 
diverse backgrounds be included in all stages of research.
    Discussion: NIDRR is a strong proponent of participatory action 
research and encourages consumer involvement in all stages of NIDRR-
sponsored research. The proposed priority requires the involvement 
of individuals with disabilities, including deaf, hard-of-hearing, 
and deaf-blind individuals and individuals from diverse racial, 
ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. This designation includes mental 
health consumers and deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind mental 
health consumers.
    Changes: The final priority specifies that deaf, hard-of-
hearing, and deaf-blind mental health consumers should be included 
in all phases of research.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that NIDRR require that family 
members be included in all stages of research.
    Discussion: NIDRR agrees that the addition of family members 
would be helpful to the research process.
    Changes: The priority has been changed to include a requirement 
that family members be included in all stages of research.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the research priority 
focus on mental health generally, rather than focusing specifically 
on mental health and deafness.
    Discussion: NIDRR funds (and has funded) a variety of mental 
health-related initiatives, of which this is one. The background 
statement supporting this priority is available from the person 
listed in FOR MORE

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INFORMATION CONTACT or in the application package. It demonstrates a 
compelling need for research in this particular area. Therefore, 
NIDRR has decided upon this area of focus.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted the growing importance of 
interactive video technology in psychological test instruments.
    Discussion: Applicants may propose research related to 
interactive video technology under question (2), which deals with 
model psychological test instruments, or under question (5), which 
covers factors that have an impact on the effectiveness of service 
delivery. However, NIDRR has no basis to determine that all 
applicants should be required to focus on this issue. The peer 
review process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that question (2) be split into 
two separate research questions so that psychological test 
instruments and mental health outcome measures are listed as two 
separate research areas.
    Discussion: NIDRR recognizes that different areas of expertise 
may be needed for research on psychological test instruments and 
mental health outcome measures.
    Changes: The priority has been changed to include two separate 
research activities, one on psychological test instruments and a 
separate activity on mental health outcome measures.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the order of the listed 
research questions be changed to: (4), (5), (1), (2), (3), to 
demonstrate that the questions are interconnected and do not stand 
apart from each other.
    Discussion: The scope of this grant is small, encouraging depth 
of focus. Applicants are instructed to select between one and four 
research questions. Applicants may, but are not required to, 
conceptualize the research questions as an interconnected whole.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority be specific 
as to which population (deaf, hard-of-hearing, or deaf-blind) is 
being addressed, since each population has separate needs.
    Discussion: Within the scope of the priority, applicants may 
choose to focus on any population or grouping of populations. The 
peer review process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: A number of commenters raised the issue of the use of 
technology in mental health service delivery for deaf, hard-of-
hearing, and deaf-blind individuals.
    Discussion: Technology is an area ripe for research, and NIDRR 
encourages those who are interested to submit proposals in this 
area. The peer review process will evaluate the merits of the 
proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that the issue of direct 
communication with a therapist who can sign, as opposed to 
communication with therapists via interpreters is not relevant given 
recent technological developments such as cochlear implants and 
voice-to-text computers.
    Discussion: Recent technological developments certainly are 
relevant to communication in mental health settings. However, they 
do not render the question of therapists who sign vs. those who use 
interpreters irrelevant. Many deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind 
individuals do not use voice-to-text computers or do not have 
cochlear implants. If applicants wish to propose research on 
technology in mental health settings, they are encouraged to do so. 
However, NIDRR has no basis to determine that all applicants should 
be required to focus on these issues. The peer review process will 
evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters suggested that the priority include a 
focus on deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind individuals who 
communicate orally as well as those who communicate through sign 
language. One suggested a focus on the use of technology with oral 
deaf persons.
    Discussion: Applicants may propose projects that focus on oral, 
manual, or any other type of communication, including technological. 
The peer review process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the term ``late-deafened'' 
be added to the priority, noting that for individuals who are late-
deafened, deafness may be seen as a loss rather than as a culture 
(as it is for many pre-lingually deaf people). This commenter also 
noted that late-deafened individuals may have different social, 
emotional and vocational experiences than pre-lingually deaf 
individuals.
    Discussion: Individuals who are late-deafened are subsumed under 
the category ``deaf'' and thus are included in the priority. NIDRR 
recognizes that the social, emotional, vocational and communicative 
experiences of late-deafened individuals may differ from those of 
culturally deaf individuals. Applicants may choose to focus research 
on the specific needs of late-deafened individuals. The peer review 
process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter noted that research is needed on the use 
of interpreters with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind 
individuals who have minimal language skills (MLS). This commenter 
noted, for example, that specialized training is needed for MLS 
interpreters, and that the use and role of deaf interpreters for 
deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind people with MLS should be 
studied.
    Discussion: These indeed are important issues, and they can be 
proposed under question (3) of the priority. The peer review process 
will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested research into the ``one-stop 
shop'' concept for purposes of mental health service delivery to 
deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind individuals.
    Discussion: Applicants may propose research into the ``one-stop 
shop'' concept under questions (4) or (5) of this priority. However, 
NIDRR has no basis to determine that all applicants should be 
required to focus on this issue. The peer review process will 
evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that funds should be directed to 
obtaining basic prevalence, demand, and incidence data to define the 
scope of a particular study within a particular geographic area.
    Discussion: An exploration of prevalence, demand, and incidence 
data within a particular geographic area could be included within an 
application for funding. However, NIDRR has no basis to determine 
that all applicants should be required to focus on this issue. The 
peer review process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested the development of standards 
for clinician sign language competency, and noted that many 
clinicians who think they can communicate in sign language in fact 
are not competent.
    Discussion: Clinician sign language competency could be a 
measure of treatment effectiveness for clinicians who sign for 
themselves, and could be studied under question (1). The development 
of actual standards of competence would need to be done in 
conjunction with appropriate sign language agencies and 
professionals in the deaf community. An applicant could propose such 
a project as part of question (1). The peer review process would 
evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority focus on 
systems of care rather than clinical issues.
    Discussion: Applicants who wish to focus on systems of care 
issues may do so under questions (4), (5), or (6). The peer review 
process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested a focus on a comprehensive 
mental health delivery system for deaf, hard-of-hearing, or deaf-
blind persons. The commenter noted that the system should include a 
broad focus of therapeutic options such as: housing, substance abuse 
rehabilitation, case management, mental health therapists fluent in 
American Sign Language, and sign language interpreters (for when 
signing therapists are unavailable).
    Discussion: Applicants who wish to focus on systems of care 
issues may do so under questions (4), (5), or (6). The peer review 
process will evaluate the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter stated that psychological testing for 
hard-of-hearing and late-deafened individuals currently is not a 
problem and does not need attention in the priority.
    Discussion: All applicants, including those focusing on 
psychological test instruments, will need to define and justify 
their target population(s). The literature review will be an 
important part of that justification. The peer review process will 
evaluate the merits of submitted proposals.
    Changes: None.

[[Page 57934]]

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority focus on 
deaf, hard-of-hearing, and deaf-blind populations generally, and 
include diversity within that focus (rather than focusing 
exclusively on diversity).
    Discussion: The focus of this priority is on persons from 
diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. However, 
individual applicants may devise their own organizational framework, 
including target population. The peer review process will evaluate 
the merits of submitted proposals.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested educating clinicians on 
communication with deaf-blind individuals.
    Discussion: An applicant could pursue this issue under question 
(3), covering model communication strategies with deaf, hard-of-
hearing, or deaf-blind individuals who have minimal language skills, 
or under questions (4) or (5). The peer review process will evaluate 
the merits of the proposals.
    Changes: None.

Priority 3--Developing Models To Promote the Use of NIDRR Research

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority be broadened 
to include research projects that were not sponsored by NIDRR.
    Discussion: NIDRR understands the value of research sponsored by 
other entities, and it may be necessary to look at this research to 
fully develop topic areas; however, an emphasis on NIDRR-sponsored 
research is preferred.
    Changes: The priority has been changed to reflect that NIDRR-
sponsored research is preferred.
    Comment: One commenter felt that nondisability-focused research 
should be included, such as that pertaining to welfare-to-work 
projects, in order to infuse disability research with what has been 
learned in that area and to promote the transfer of disability 
research to the non-disability field.
    Discussion: This comment is broader than the proposed priority 
area to develop specific models that could be useful for the 
utilization of disability research. Just developing a model that 
includes other types of research will not achieve the kind of 
outcome this commenter seeks. This might lend itself to a broader 
priority in the future.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that bullet number 3 be changed 
to add the words ``alternate media'' to ensure that training 
materials produced would be ready for use with audiences with 
disabilities.
    Discussion: NIDRR agrees that NIDRR supported programs should 
develop products that are accessible to all individuals, including 
alternative formats.
    Changes: The priority has been changed to add the word 
alternative.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the second unnumbered 
bullet be amended to include the words ``rehabilitation researchers 
and'' individuals with disabilities.
    Discussion: NIDRR wants to ensure that this priority is relevant 
to rehabilitation researchers and to individuals with disabilities. 
In the original priority, we required participation of individuals 
with disabilities.
    Changes: The priority has been changed to reflect rehabilitation 
researchers, as well as family members.

[FR Doc. 02-23270 Filed 9-11-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P