ProRule: Pro Priorities; Nat Institute on Disability and Rehab[OSERS]
[Federal Register: January 27, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 17)]
[Page 4147-4150]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

[[Page 4147]]


Part VII

Department of Education

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

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

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Funding Priority for Fiscal Years 1998-1999 
for a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center.


SUMMARY: The Secretary proposes a 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 
problems that are significant to disabled persons and to the research 
community. This priority is intended to improve rehabilitation services 
and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before February 26, 1998.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning this proposed priority should be 
addressed to Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 600 Maryland 
Avenue, SW., room 3418, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2645. 
Comments may also be sent through the Internet:
    You must include the term ``Engineering Research Centers'' in the 
electronic message.

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 proposed priority 
under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 
program for an RERC focused on the development of rehabilitation 
technology devices, particularly low-cost prosthetic and orthotic 
devices, to meet the rehabilitation needs of land mine survivors.
    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. NIDRR is 
authorized, under Section 204(b)(6) of the Rehabilitation Act, to 
provide support for a program of international rehabilitation research, 
demonstration, and training.
    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).
    The Secretary will announce the final 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 a particular project 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 proposed priority does not solicit 
applications. A notice inviting applications under this competition 
will be published in the Federal Register concurrent with or 
following the notice of final priority.

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


    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 competition only applications 
that meet this absolute priority.

Proposed Priority: Improved Technology Access for Land Mine Survivors

    In the House Report accompanying the appropriations for the 
Department of Education:

    The Committee has included up to $850,000 * * * for 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 report language, the Secretary is proposing 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 landmine 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

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conditions such as sensory impairments, communication impairments, 
burns, and other conditions caused by anti-personnel land mines. The 
Secretary is particularly interested in receiving comments about the 
feasibility of addressing, to some extent, land mine injuries that do 
not involve missing limbs, such as vision, hearing, and other types of 
impairments within the scope of this RERC.
    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 landmine survivors and the Center 
should involve relevant organizations in appropriate roles in Center 
operations. Included in this group are organizations of survivors 
themselves; these 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 


    The Secretary proposes to 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.
    In carrying out the general purposes of this priority, 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 addition to its research functions, 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.
    * 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, Agency for International Development, 
Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
    Electronic Access to This Document: Anyone may view this document, 
as well as all other Department of 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.

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 3424, Switzer 
Building, 330 C Street S.W., Washington, D.C., between the hours of 
9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday of each week except 
Federal holidays.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR parts 350 and 353.

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

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

    Dated: January 22, 1998.
Judith E. Heumann,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 98-1936 Filed 1-26-98; 8:45 am]