[Federal Register: April 6, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 67)]
[Page 18359-18363]
>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part II
Department of Education
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; Notice
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National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Funding Priorities for Fiscal Years (FYs) 
2001-2003 for Community-based Research Projects on Technology for 
Independence and Resource Center for Community-based Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects on Technology for Independence.


SUMMARY: We propose funding priorities for Community-based Research 
Projects on Technology for Independence and Resource Center for 
Community-based Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects on 
Technology for Independence under the National Institute on Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) for FYs 2001-2003. We take this 
action to focus research attention on areas of national need. We intend 
these priorities to improve the rehabilitation services and outcomes 
for individuals with disabilities. This notice contains proposed 
priorities under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Program.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before May 7, 2001.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning these proposed priorities should be 
addressed to Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland 
Avenue, SW., room 3414, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2645. 
Comments may also be sent through the Internet: donna_nangle@ed.gov

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) 205-4475.
    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 in the preceding 


Invitation To Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed 
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed 
priorities. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should 
take to reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while 
preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about these priorities in Room 3414, Switzer Building, 330 C 
Street SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking record for these proposed priorities. If you want to 
schedule an appointment for this type of aid, you may call (202) 205-
8113 or (202) 260-9895. If you use a TDD, you may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.

National Education Goals

    These proposed priorities will address the National Education Goal 
that every adult American will be literate and will possess the 
knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and 
exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
    The authority for the program 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 (the Act) (29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(4)). Regulations 
governing this program are found in 34 CFR part 350.
    We will announce the final priorities in a notice in the Federal 
Register. We will determine the final priorities after considering 
responses to this notice and other information available to the 
Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing or funding 
additional priorities, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 

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

    The proposed priorities refer to NIDRR's Long Range Plan (the 
Plan). The Plan can be accessed on the World Wide Web at: (http://

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program

    The purpose of the DRRP and Centers program is to plan and conduct 
research, demonstration projects, training, and related activities to:
    (a) Develop methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology that 
maximizes the full inclusion and integration into society, employment, 
independent living, family support, and economic and social self-
sufficiency of individuals with disabilities; and
    (b) Improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Act.

Priorities for Community-based Rehabilitation Projects on 
Technology for Independence


Issues in Involvement of Community-based Organizations of People With 
Disabilities in Promoting Technology for Independence.
    As stated in the Plan, ``It is the mission of NIDRR to generate, 
disseminate, and promote the full use of new knowledge that will 
improve substantially the options for disabled individuals to perform 
regular activities in the community, and the capacity of society to 
provide full opportunities and appropriate supports for its disabled 
citizens.'' Assistive Technology (AT) and environmental access play key 
roles in this mission. The Plan provides detailed definitions, 
examples, and research objectives for AT and environmental access, 
including universal design.
    According to a National Center for Health Statistics report titled 
``Trends and Differential Use of Assistive Technology Devices: United 
States, 1994,'' approximately 17 million people used at least one AT 
device. AT and related environmental access approaches (environmental 
access approaches include the concept of universal design) help people 
with disabilities function on a more equal basis in society. For more 
information on the contributions of AT and access solutions, see the 
examples and links to relevant web sites provided by the United States 
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, also known 
as the Access Board (http://www.access-board.gov/), and the Doorway to 
Research on Technology for Access and Function at the National Center 
for the Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR) (http://
    The new paradigm of disability embodied in the Plan requires 
analysis of the extent to which AT and

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environmental access helps individuals with disabilities in attaining 
full participation in society. Much of NIDRR's work reflects the 
components of the Independent Living (IL) philosophy: consumer control, 
self-help, advocacy, peer relationships and peer role models, and equal 
access to society, programs, and activities. IL and achieving community 
integration to the maximum extent possible are issues at the crux of 
NIDRR's mission. Furthermore, NIDRR is committed to the creation of a 
theoretical framework with measurable outcomes that is based upon the 
experiences of individuals with disabilities.
    To improve ``end-user'' participation in addressing AT problems, 
and related environmental access solutions, NIDRR will support projects 
that involve community-based organizations in researching AT related 
problems and needs. Two types of projects will be supported. The first 
type includes research projects that will investigate the use of, and 
need for, AT devices and services at the community level. The second 
type of project is a community-based research ``Resource Center'' that 
will develop, evaluate, and disseminate improved research and training 
methods appropriate to AT and environmental access involvement of 
community-based disability organizations. The Resource Center will also 
provide AT and environmental access technical assistance to community-
based organizations and will foster cooperation among the funded 
projects. These community-based research projects will broaden the 
inclusion of persons with disabilities in developing practical and 
affordable solutions to AT and environmental access problems and needs.
    In recent years, a number of NIDRR grant competitions have led to 
research projects and activities that aim at improving access to AT and 
reducing environmental barriers. For many years, NIDRR funded grants to 
States under the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with 
Disabilities Act of 1988 (Tech Act). In addition to research programs 
under Title II of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 
796) (Rehab Act), NIDRR now has responsibility for AT programs under 
the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (AT Act), which replaced the Tech 
Act. A June 5, 2000 notice (65 FR 35768-35774) for a new Alternative 
Financing Program under Title III of the AT Act identified numerous 
issues affecting access of people with disabilities to AT. An April 5, 
1999 notice (64 FR 16531) under NIDRR's Rehabilitation Engineering 
Research Center (RERC) program discussed the importance of improving 
access to the environment through universal design. For information on 
ongoing and completed NIDRR-supported activities in these areas, 
contact the National Rehabilitation Information Center at http://
www.naric.com/ or telephone 1-800-346-2742.
    This year, NIDRR anticipates awarding a number of projects related 
to AT and environmental access. For updates on the status of 
announcements please see the Education Department Forecast of Funding 
Opportunities under Department of Education Discretionary Grant 
Programs for FY 2001 at http://ocfo.ed.gov/grntinfo/forecast/
    According to the Rehab Act, the purpose of IL programs is ``to 
promote a philosophy of consumer control, peer support, self-help, 
self-determination, equal access, and individual empowerment, equal 
access, and system advocacy, in order to maximize the leadership, 
empowerment, independence, and productivity of individuals with 
disabilities, and the integration and full inclusion of individuals 
with disabilities into the mainstream of American society.'' The 
concepts in this philosophy of consumer control, peer support, and 
self-help place these Title VII independent living centers (CILs) 
within a broader world-wide grouping known as ``community-based'' 
    The term ``community-based'' organization has varying meanings in 
disability and rehabilitation programs and in social research. For the 
purpose of these two priorities, a ``community-based disability 
organization'' is a consumer-directed community organization such as a 
CIL. Consumer control is the key. Some community rehabilitation service 
organizations, for example psychosocial rehabilitation programs, also 
value consumer direction. Other disability-related organizations are 
located in community settings, but do not have significant consumer 
direction. Section 7 of the Rehab Act, for example, identifies 
community rehabilitation programs as providers of AT devices and 
services for persons with disabilities, but such organizations may or 
may not be consumer directed. Organizations with consumer direction, 
including CILs and other organizations such as protection and advocacy 
(P&A) agencies, are in a unique position to help identify and study the 
specific needs for AT and environmental access of individuals from 
diverse populations and therefore are the focus of this research 
    A number of private foundations and international agencies have 
identified the value of investing in ``grassroots'', consumer-directed 
organizations, particularly in public health and economic development. 
These organizations aim at reducing poverty or specific diseases such 
as HIV/AIDS, or they provide assistance to special needs groups such as 
people in troubled urban and rural areas (see the World Wide Web sites 
or publications of the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services at http:/
/www.pewtrusts.com/, the World Health Organization at http://
www.who.int/, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at http://
www.rwjf.org/index.jsp for examples).
    Community-based research encompasses a broad set of research 
activities with differing, and sometimes competing, concepts and 
methods. Sociology, anthropology, community psychology and public 
health, for example, use applied community research methods. For the 
purpose of these two proposed priorities, community-based research is 
intensive, systematic study directed toward new or full scientific 
knowledge or understanding of AT or environmental access problems. In 
addition, the research must be completed in the community under the 
direction of community-based disability organizations (Sclove, R.E, 
Scammell, M.L. & Holland, B. (1998). Community-based Research in the 
U.S. Amherst, MA: The Loka Institute http://www.loka.org/).
    Community-based disability and rehabilitation research puts primary 
emphasis on assisting persons with disabilities by producing and 
disseminating knowledge and technology and promoting and advancing the 
rehabilitation and integration process at the community level. 
Community-based disability and rehabilitation research, according to 
these two priorities, applies to the use of, or need for, AT devices 
and services by persons with disabilities in the community, and related 
issues of environmental access. Such research should be performed by 
qualified researchers in cooperation with community-based disability 
organizations. NIDRR supports the notion that persons with disabilities 
provide unique perspectives about living with disability and must be 
included in community-based research projects to the greatest possible 
extent. Their experience with, and interest in, finding practical 
solutions to problems encountered in home, school, place of work, and 
community make them informed participants, if not particularly

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qualified researchers. To ensure that technology-related problems 
relevant to persons with disabilities are studied, contributions from 
such persons are encouraged. In addition, university-based research on 
disability needs to be complemented by community-based research to 
provide the community with useful and immediate tools, technologies, 
and knowledge for overcoming barriers to access and participation in 
economy and society.
    Community-based rehabilitation research is particularly suited for 
persons with disabilities. According to the University of Washington 
School of Public Health and Community Medicine's Principles of 
Community-Based Research, a research partnership between a university 
and community-based organizations should accomplish the following:
     Community partners should be involved at the earliest 
stages of the project, helping to define research objectives and having 
input into how the project will be organized.
     Community partners should have real influence on project 
direction--that is, enough leverage to ensure that the original goals, 
mission, and methods of the project are adhered to.
     Research processes and outcomes should benefit the 
community. Community members should be hired and trained whenever 
possible and appropriate, and the research should help build and 
enhance community assets;
     Community members should be part of the analysis and 
interpretation of data and should have input into how the results are 
distributed. This does not imply censorship of data or of publication, 
but rather the opportunity to make clear the community's views about 
the interpretation prior to final publication;
     Productive partnerships between researchers and community 
members should be encouraged to last beyond the life of the project. 
This will make it more likely that research findings will be 
incorporated into ongoing community programs and therefore provide the 
greatest possible benefit to the community from research; and
     Community members should be empowered to initiate their 
own research projects that address needs they identify themselves.

Proposed Priority 1: Community-based Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Projects on Technology for Independence

    The Plan identifies disability in terms of the relationship between 
the individual and the natural, built, cultural, and social 
environments (63 FR 57189-57219). The Plan focuses on both individual 
and systemic factors that have an impact on the ability of people to 
function. The elements of the Plan include employment outcomes, health 
and function, technology for access and function, and IL and community 
integration. To attain the goals in these areas, the Plan also includes 
capacity building for research and training, and to ensure knowledge 
dissemination and utilization. Each area of the Plan includes 
objectives at both the individual and system levels. For example, the 
technology for access and function area of the Plan includes research 
objectives to develop AT that supports people with disabilities to 
function and live independently and obtain better employment outcomes, 
and research objectives to promote improved access to the built 
environment and concepts of universal design. It is clear that the 
challenges and opportunities for AT and improved environmental access 
reflect all of the priority areas of the Plan.

Proposed Priority 1

    We proposes to establish research projects to involve community-
based disability organizations in AT and environmental access research 
leading to practical and affordable solutions to identified problems 
and needs, and building research capacity at the community level and in 
community-based organizations serving persons with disabilities.
    In carrying out these purposes, a project must:
    (a) From the examples of research objectives below, conduct a 
significant and substantial research program on the involvement of 
community-based disability organizations in promoting technology for 
access and function that will contribute to the advancement of 
knowledge in accordance with the Plan by:
     Investigating and developing research questions, 
methodologies, and recommendations for use by other research entities 
in solving technology-related, engineering, psychosocial, economic and 
other problems at the individual and systems levels, in the United 
States (U.S.); and
     Designing and testing models for partnership of community-
based disability organizations in research, participant observation 
studies and other qualitative and quantitative research approaches to 
using technology in community-based settings; and
    (b) Disseminate findings from community-based research to persons 
with disabilities, their representatives, disability and rehabilitation 
service providers, researchers, planners, and policy makers.
    In carrying out these purposes, the project must:
     Coordinate with appropriate federally funded projects. 
Coordination responsibilities will be identified through consultation 
with the NIDRR project officer and may include outreach to specific 
NIDRR DRRPs, RERCs, Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers 
(RRTCs), Disability Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACs) and 
AT Projects; Office of Special Education technology projects and Parent 
Training and Information Centers; and Rehabilitation Services 
Administration training, special demonstration, and IL projects;
     Involve individuals with disabilities in key decision-
     Participate in a formative review session to be convened 
by the Resource Center within six months of award, and cooperate with 
the Resource Center's capacity-building and evaluation activities; and
     Participate in a state-of-the-science conference in the 
third year of the grant.

Proposed Priority 2: Resource Center for Community-based Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Projects on Technology for Independence

    There is a need for capacity-building on conceptual and 
methodological approaches to research on the involvement of community-
based organizations of people with disabilities in promoting technology 
for independence. There is need for training, technical assistance, and 
dissemination efforts to guide ongoing efforts. Advice and strategies 
are needed in specific areas including, but not limited to, research 
designs and methodologies, case studies, focus group research, AT and 
environmental assessment, small sample surveys, participant 
observation, ethnography, and participatory action research. There is a 
need to develop ``how-to-do'' materials on disability-related AT and 
environmental access community-based research, reference resources, 
web-based access to materials, and other means of communicating 
knowledge about community-based rehabilitation research in the U.S.

Proposed Priority 2

    We propose to establish a resource center to assist Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects on Technology for Independence and 
other related NIDRR activities under the Plan with capacity-building 
for improving the involvement of community-based

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organizations of people with disabilities in promoting technology for 
    In carrying out these purposes, the project must:
    (a) Establish and conduct a significant and substantial resource 
program on capacity-building in research, training, and TA on the 
involvement of community-based disability organizations in promoting 
technology for access and function that will contribute to the 
advancement of knowledge in accordance with the Plan.
    (b) Disseminate findings from the Resource Center's program on 
community-based research to DRRPs on Technology for Independence and 
other related NIDRR-funded activities under the Plan.
    In addition to the activities proposed by the applicant to carry 
out these purposes, the Resource Center must:
     Involve individuals with disabilities and, if appropriate, 
their representatives, in planning and implementing the research, 
training, and dissemination activities, and in evaluating the Center;
     Coordinate with appropriate federally funded projects. 
Coordination responsibilities will be identified through consultation 
with the NIDRR project officer and may include outreach to specific 
NIDRR DRRPs, RERCs, RRTCs, DBTACs and AT Projects; Office of Special 
Education technology projects and Parent Training and Information 
Centers; and Rehabilitation Services Administration training, special 
demonstration, and IL projects;
     Convene a formative review session within six months of 
project award with the DRRPs on Technology for Independence to assist 
these community-based rehabilitation researchers in the finalization of 
their research plans, and to help them with the commencement of their 
research projects; and
     Conduct a state-of-the-science conference, including the 
DRRPs on Technology for Independence, in the third year of the grant 
and publish a comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the 
conference in the fourth year of the grant.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(4).

Electronic Access to This Document

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    Note: The official version of this document is published in the 
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available on GPO Access at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 84.133A, Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Project and Centers Program)

    Dated: April 2, 2001.
Andrew J. Pepin,
Executive Administrator for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
[FR Doc. 01-8462 Filed 4-5-01; 8:45 am]