[Federal Register: March 25, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 58)]
[Page 12062-12063]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Funding Priority for Fiscal Years 1996 and
1997 for a Research and Demonstration Project.


SUMMARY: The Secretary proposes a funding priority for Research and 
Demonstration (R&D) projects under the National Institute on Disability
and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) for fiscal years 1996-1997. The 
Secretary takes this action to focus research attention on areas of 
national need consistent with NIDRR's long-range planning process. This 
priority is intended to assist in the solutions to problems encountered 
by individuals with disabilities in their daily activities.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 24, 1996.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning this proposed priority should be 
addressed to David Esquith, U.S. Department of Education, 600 
Independence Avenue, S.W., Switzer Building, Room 3424, Washington, 
D.C. 20202-2601.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Esquith. Telephone: (202) 205-
8801. Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD) may call the TDD number at (202) 205-8133. Internet: David--

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice contains a proposed priority on 
universal design. Authority for the R&D program of NIDRR is contained
in section 204(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 
U.S.C. 760-762).
    Under this program the Secretary makes awards to public agencies 
and private agencies and organizations, including institutions of 
higher education, Indian tribes, and tribal organizations. This program 
is designed to assist in the development of solutions to the problems 
encountered by individuals with handicaps in their daily activities, 
especially problems related to employment (see 34 CFR 351.1). Under the 
regulations for this program (see 34 CFR 351.32), the Secretary may 
establish research priorities by reserving funds to support the 
research activities listed in 34 CFR 351.10.
    This proposed priority supports the National Education Goal that 
calls for all Americans to possess the knowledge and skills necessary 
to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and 
responsibilities of citizenship.
    The Secretary will announce the final funding priority in a notice 
in the Federal Register. The final priority will be determined by 
responses to this notice, available funds, and other considerations of 
the Department. Funding of particular projects depends on the final 
priority, the availability of funds, and the quality of the 
applications received. The publication of this proposed priority does 
not preclude the Secretary from proposing additional priorities, nor 
does it limit the Secretary to funding only this priority, subject to 
meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note: This notice of a proposed priority does not solicit 
applications. A notice inviting applications under this competition 
will be published in the Federal Register concurrent with or 
following publication of the notice of the final priority.


    Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) the Secretary proposes to give an 
absolute preference to applications that meet the following priority. 
The Secretary proposes to fund under this program only applications 
that meet this absolute priority:

Emerging Disability Populations


    Demographic and social trends indicate that the prevalence and 
distribution of various types of disability are changing, and that new 
populations of individuals are emerging to create unique demands on 
social policy and service systems. These new populations frequently 
result from such factors as: (1) Changing etiologies for existing 
disabilities; (2) growth in segments of the population with higher 
prevalence rates for certain disabilities, including the aging of the 
population in general and the population of individuals with 
disabilities in particular; (3) the unintended consequences of changes 
in public policy; or (4) the introduction of new disabilities.
    The first category includes, for example, mental retardation that 

[[Page 12063]]
from high-risk births, (President's Committee on Mental retardation, 
The New Morbidity, 1993) or spinal cord injury resulting from 
interpersonal violence (Stover, unpublished communique to NIDRR, 1994). 
The second category is exemplified by higher incidence and prevalence 
of activity limitations due to impairments typically correlated with 
increased age. (LaPlante, 1995) Examples include the onset of sensory 
loss in older persons, or certain strength-limiting musculoskeletal or 
neuromuscular diseases. A subset of this category is represented by the 
acquisition of secondary disabilities or new exacerbations of existing 
disabilities among individuals with disabilities as they age, for 
example post-polio syndrome or deterioration of stressed joints. The 
third category of emerging disabilities may have iatrogenic causes or 
may result from inappropriate societal interventions such as 
institutionalization or segregation during which the acquisition of 
social skills and learning opportunities are forfeited. Social policies 
such as deinstitutionalization into inadequately supportive 
environments, while not necessarily creating new disabilities, has led 
to different manifestations of problems associated with long-term 
mental illness, including homelessness, abuse, involvement in the 
criminal justice system, and the acquisition of additional disabilities 
and health problems. Other disabilities, particularly secondary 
disabilities, may result from policy decisions that result in 
inadequate preventive services. The final category includes persons 
with newly emergent disabilities, most clearly illustrated by persons 
living with HIV disease and AIDS, and by environmental or workplace 
disabilities such as repetitive motion syndrome, environmental 
allergies, and various hidden disabilities.
    The causes of each of these categories of disabilities are such 
that emergent disabilities tend to be differentially distributed 
throughout the population in ways that are not typical of other common 
disabilities. While there is a strong correlation between disability 
and poverty generally. (LaPlante, 1995; The New Morbidity, 1993; 
McNeil, 1995; Aday, 1993) these emergent disabilities appear to be 
inordinately concentrated among the poor, minorities, youth, the aged, 
the poorly educated, and those who already have other disabilities.
    The underlying causes of these emergent disabilities may be socio-
behavioral, environmental, or socio-economic, but are most often a 
combination of these elements. Among the most important factors 
creating this ``emerging universe of disability'' are interpersonal 
violence, such as shootings, battery, or child abuse; low-birthweight 
and other high-risk births, often to mothers who are young teenagers, 
substance abusers, HIV-positive, or with poor prenatal care; aging, 
with or without prior existing disabilities; high risk behaviors 
involving substance abuse or sexual activities; and secondary 
conditions, often resulting from inadequate acute or long-term care.
    The nation lacks a clear understanding of the existence of these 
disabilities, which are closely related to an individual's position in 
the social structure, and certainly does not comprehend the possible 
consequences for the disability service systems of a new population of 
disabled persons from among what one author calls ``the vulnerable.'' 
(Aday, 1993) There are many gaps in the knowledge base about risk 
factors associated with the emergence of disability, as there are no 
comprehensive surveillance systems or epidemiological studies.


    The Secretary proposes to establish a research and demonstration 
project to: (1) Define and characterize the emerging universe of 
disability; (2) assess the incidence and prevalence of these ``new 
universe'' disabilities; (3) identify etiologies associated with these 
disabilities; and (4) evaluate the implications of these emerging 
disabilities for service systems and social policy. In addition to 
activities proposed by the applicant to carry out these purposes, the 
proposed R&D project shall carry out the following activities:
    * Determine and test methods, using a range of existing
databases, to estimate and describe the emerging universe of disability 
both for the present and in the future, and assess the feasibility of 
using existing, or establishing new, surveillance systems to predict 
and characterize future emerging disabilities;
    * Assess the particular needs of the emerging universe, both
now and for the future, for vocational rehabilitation, special 
education, medical and psychosocial rehabilitation, independent living 
services, and assistive technology services, as well as for community-
based supports, income supports, and medical assistance;
    * Analyze the implications for the selection, preparation,
and training of personnel, including professionals and peers, to 
provide services to the emerging universe, and for the ways in which 
services should be delivered;
    * Design a practical and prioritized agenda for a future
research program to develop interventions and policy approaches to 
address the disability-related problems of various segments of the 
emerging universe; and
    * Convene a conference of individuals both within and
outside of the disability field to discuss the Center's findings and 
their implications.

Invitation To Comment

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments and 
recommendations regarding these proposed priorities.
    All comments submitted in response to this notice will be available 
for public inspection, during and after the comment period, in Room 
3423, Mary Switzer Building, 330 C Street S.W., Washington, D.C., 
between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday of 
each week except Federal holidays.

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR Parts 350 and 351.

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

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

    Dated: February 7, 1996.
Judith E. Heumann,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 96-7074 Filed 3-22-96; 8:45 am]