[Federal Register: April 10, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 69)]
[Notices]               
[Page 18687-18692]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr10ap01-137]                         


[[Page 18687]]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Part II





Department of Education





-----------------------------------------------------------------------



National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; Proposed 
Funding Priorities for FY 2001-2003; Notice


[[Page 18688]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; 
Proposed Funding Priorities for FY 2001-2003

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed funding priorities for Fiscal Years (FY) 
2001-2003 for two rehabilitation engineering research centers.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We propose funding priorities for one Rehabilitation and 
Engineering Research Program (RERC) on Technology for Successful Aging 
and one RERC on Transportation Safety under the National Institute on 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) for FY 2001-2003. We may 
use these priorities for competitions in FY 2001 and later years. 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.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before May 10, 2001.

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning these proposed priorities should be 
addressed to Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland 
Avenue, S.W., room 3414, Switzer Building, Washington, D.C. 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 
paragraph.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Invitation To comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding these proposed 
priorities.
    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, D.C., between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., 
Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays.

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 that 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 (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 
requirements.

    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 that can 
be accessed on the World Wide Web at: (http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/
NIDRR/#LRP).

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers Program

    The authority for RERCs is contained in section 204(b)(3) of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. 764(b)(3)). The 
Assistant Secretary may make awards for up to 60 months through grants 
or cooperative agreements 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.

Description of Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers

    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 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 organizations.

Proposed Priority 1: RERC on Technology for Successful Aging

Background

    Americans are living longer, and because of this demographic 
revolution the landscape of disability is also changing. Since 1900, 
average life expectancy has increased dramatically

[[Page 18689]]

from less than 50 years of age to approximately 76 years, and 
centenarians now represent the fastest growing age group in the United 
States (Bureau of the Census, ``Current Population Reports,'' pgs. 70-
73, 1993). During this same time period, the percentage of Americans 
who are 65 years or older has more than tripled (from 4.1% in 1900 to 
12.7% in 1999) and the actual number increased eleven times from 3.1 
million to 34.5 million. This number is expected to double by the year 
2030 (Administration on Aging, ``Profile of Older Americans, 2000,'': 
http://www.aoa.dhhs.gov/aoa/stats/profile/).
    In 1994-1995 more than half of those 65 and older (52.5%) reported 
having at least one disability and it is estimated that one-third of 
this population has a severe disability. Over 4.4 million (14%) have 
difficulty in carrying out activities of daily living (ADLs), which 
includes bathing, dressing, eating, and getting around the house, and 
6.5 million (21%) reported difficulty in carrying out instrumental 
activities of daily living (IADLs) such as preparing of meals, 
shopping, managing money, using the telephone, doing housework, and 
taking medication. However, despite the increased risks of disability 
associated with aging, ninety-five percent of older Americans choose to 
remain in their own homes, use public services and function 
independently as they age (Current Population Reports, ``Americans with 
Disabilities, 1994-1995,'' http://www.census.gov/main/cprs.html).
    Although there are many similarities between younger and older 
persons with disabilities (e.g., the goal of independent living), there 
are also important differences. Younger persons with disabilities are 
much more likely to experience impairment or disability in only one 
area (e.g., cognitive, hearing, vision, or mobility), whereas older 
persons tend to have multiple chronic conditions, presenting a mix of 
symptoms, impairments, and functional limitations. Older persons with 
disabilities also differ from their younger counterparts in that they 
are predominantly female, have lower income, and have a smaller network 
of social support.
    As the baby boomer generation ages, the challenge for policymakers 
and industry is to fully leverage advances in information, 
communications, sensors, advanced materials, lighting, and many other 
technologies to optimize existing public and private investments and to 
create new environments that respond to an aging society's needs 
(Coughlin, J.F., ``Technology Needs of Aging Boomers,'' Issues in 
Science and Technology Online: http://bob.nap.edu/issues/16.1/
coughlin.htm, pg. 5, 1999). There is a need for an integrated 
infrastructure for independent aging that should include a safe home, a 
productive workplace, personal communications, and lifelong 
transportation.
    The NIDRR Long-Range Plan suggests that aging of the disabled 
population in conjunction with quality of life issues dictates a 
particular focus on prevention and alleviation of secondary 
disabilities and coexisting conditions and on health maintenance over 
the lifespan. Research in this area must focus on the development and 
evaluation of environmental options in the built environment and the 
communications environment, including such approaches as universal 
design, modular design, and assistive technology that enable 
individuals with disabilities and society to select the most 
appropriate means to accommodate or alleviate limitations (NIDRR, Long-
Range Plan: 1999-2003, pg. 49).
    Home environmental interventions and assistive and universally 
designed technologies have the potential to increase independence for 
community-based older persons with disabilities. A new generation of 
home-based monitoring and communication technologies could enable 
caregivers at any distance to monitor and respond to the needs of older 
friends, family, residents, and patients. Systems that make full use of 
the existing telecommunications infrastructure could be used to ensure 
that medicine has been taken, that physical functions are normal, and 
that minor symptoms are not indicators of a larger problem. They could 
provide early identification of problems that, if left untreated, may 
result in hospitalization for the individual and higher health care 
costs to society (Coughlin, J.F., op cit., pg. 7, 1999).
    The fact that most older adults choose to remain in their own homes 
as they age is a cost effective option from a public policy perspective 
provided that the home can be used as a platform to ensure overall 
wellness and community integration. For example, introduction of a new 
generation of appliances, health monitors, and related devices that can 
safely support independence and remote caregiving could make the home a 
viable alternative to longterm care for many older adults. Research 
should go beyond questions of design and physical accessibility to the 
development of an integrated home that is attractive to us when we are 
younger and supportive of us as we age (Coughlin, J.F., op cit., pg. 6, 
1999).
    In the emerging, evolving field of assistive technology, there are 
gaps in the research. This is particularly true for older adults with 
disabilities. To create enabling home environments, research is needed 
on assistive and universally designed technologies and environmental 
interventions that are safe, affordable, support independence and 
social participation, and involve the integration of information 
technology and ergonomic principles. As part of achieving this goal, 
there is a need to develop appropriate devices that unobtrusively 
monitor key needs (i.e., taking medications, eating, and drinking), as 
well as critical events (i.e., falls or stove left on). There is also a 
need for research to determine the most effective ways to inform 
professionals, families, and consumers about new and emerging assistive 
and universally designed technologies, the best ways to use them, and 
ways to pay for them.
    Another important area relates to the needs of older persons with 
cognitive impairments. This population presents the greatest challenge 
to creating enabling environments. According to recent findings, 
individuals with cognitive impairment use the fewest numbers of 
assistive devices but could benefit from the development of ``smart'' 
environments--devices that anticipate needs, suggest (or actually 
provide) alternatives, and limit the amount of sensory input and/or 
decision making required (Mann, W., Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 
8(2), pgs. 35-52, 1993).

Proposed Priority 1: RERC on Technology for Successful Aging

    We propose to establish an RERC on technologies for successful 
aging that will focus on technological solutions to promote the health, 
safety, independence, active engagement and quality of life of older 
persons with disabilities. The RERC must:
    (a) Identify, assess, and evaluate current and emerging needs, and 
barriers to meeting those needs, for home-based monitoring and 
communication technologies that promote heath, independence, and active 
engagement of older persons with disabilities in the community and with 
family and friends;
    (b) Investigate, develop, and evaluate home-based monitoring and 
communication technologies to promote health independence, and active 
engagement of older persons with disabilities;
    (c) Investigate, develop, and evaluate technologies that can be 
used to create

[[Page 18690]]

``smart'' environments that anticipate needs, suggest (or actually 
provide) alternatives, and limit the amount of sensory input and/or 
decision making required of older persons with multiple types of 
impairments, including sensory, mobility, and cognitive;
    (d) Identify, develop and evaluate strategies and training 
materials to promote knowledge about new and existing technologies for 
use by caregivers, home health providers, case managers and by older 
persons with disabilities; and
    (e) Develop and explore various strategies for strengthening 
partnerships with industry to facilitate the development of new 
technologies and applications that are appropriate for use by older 
persons with multiple types of impairments and functional capabilities.
    In addition to activities proposed by the applicant to carry out 
these purposes, the RERC must:
     Develop and implement in the first year of the grant, and 
in consultation with the NIDRR-funded National Center for the 
Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR), a plan to disseminate the 
RERC's research results to all relevant target audiences including, but 
not limited to, clinicians, engineers, manufacturers, service 
providers, older persons with disabilities, families, disability 
organizations, technology service providers, case managers, businesses, 
and appropriate journals;
     Develop and implement in the first year of the grant, and 
in consultation with the NIDRR-funded RERC on Technology Transfer, a 
utilization plan for ensuring that all new and improved technologies 
developed by this RERC are successfully transferred to the marketplace;
     Conduct in the third year of the grant a state-of-the-
science conference on home-based monitoring and communication 
technologies to promote the health, independence, and active engagement 
of older persons with disabilities and publish a comprehensive report 
on the final outcomes of the conference in the fourth year of the 
grant; and * Collaborate on research projects of mutual interest with 
NIDRR-funded projects, such as the RERCs on Universal Design and the 
Built Environment, Mobile Wireless Technologies, Information Technology 
Access, and Telecommunications Access and the RRTC on Aging with a 
Disability, as identified through consultation with the NIDRR project 
officer.

Proposed Priority 2: RERC on Transportation Safety

Background

    Americans live in a very mobile society where access to, and use 
of, public and private transportation services is essential to daily 
living. There are roughly 1.7 million Americans living outside of 
institutions who use wheelchairs and scooters (Kaye, H.S., Kang, T., 
and LaPlante, M.P., ``Mobility Device Use in the United States,'' 
Disability Statistics Report, (14), Washington, DC: U.S. Department of 
Education, NIDRR, June, 2000), including those who rely heavily on 
public and private transportation services to commute to work and 
school, participate in recreational activities, and carry out daily 
activities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 
requires that children with disabilities, including those who use 
wheelchairs, must be transported safely to educational settings. The 
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires that all public 
and private transportation systems, including trains, buses, and 
subways be accessible to persons with disabilities, including those who 
use wheelchairs. (The ADA does not address air transportation and 
school buses.) However, in a recent report eighty-two percent of 
wheelchair users stated they have difficulty accessing their local 
public transportation system (Kaye, H.S., Kang, T., and LaPlante, M.P., 
``Mobility Device Use in the United States.'' Disability Statistics 
Report, (14), Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, NIDRR, 
June, 2000).
    Many wheelchair users are not capable of transferring into a 
vehicle seat and instead are required to travel seated while in their 
wheelchairs. However, most wheelchairs are not designed to function as 
vehicle seats, thus putting wheelchair-seated travelers at greater risk 
of injury compared to those who sit in standard vehicle seats 
(Bertocci, G.E., et al., ``Computer Simulation and Sled Test Validation 
of a Powerbase Wheelchair and Occupant Subjected to Frontal Crash 
Conditions,'' IEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering, Vol. 7, 
No. 2, pg. 234, June, 1999). Providing effective occupant protection in 
a motor vehicle is a multifaceted problem that involves the vehicle 
seat, how the seat is anchored to the vehicle, and an occupant 
restraint system (seatbelts, airbags, etc). Manufacturers of motor 
vehicle seats are required to perform extensive testing to ensure that 
vehicle seating systems are designed and constructed to provide support 
for the occupant under crash conditions (Department of Transportation, 
U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, ``Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standards Seating Systems,'' U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC, 49 CFR 571.207). However, wheelchairs used as motor 
vehicle seats are not necessarily designed for such use and must rely 
upon after-market products to secure or anchor the wheelchair to the 
vehicle. Unfortunately, tie-down systems are not afforded the same 
scrutiny as vehicle seating systems thereby increasing the likelihood 
that the tie-down systems could fail and the wheelchair and its 
occupant could become a projectile in crash settings.
    Laboratory research has dramatically demonstrated the potential 
danger for wheelchair riders not adequately secured using wheelchair 
tie-down and restraint systems (WTORS) during vehicle collisions 
(Benson, J.B. and Schneider, L.W., ``Improving the crashworthiness of 
restraints for handicapped children,'' In: Advances in belt restraint 
systems, design, performance, and usage: Society of Automobile 
Engineers Technical Paper #840528, Warrandale, PA., pgs. 389-404. 
1984). Although there has been an increased awareness about wheelchair 
rider safety, there is a paucity of information regarding the risk to 
wheelchair riders while riding in motor vehicles. In an effort to 
better characterize wheelchair rider risk, an analysis of motor vehicle 
accident data for the general public was conducted. According to Shaw, 
the most readily accessible and quantifiable information regarding 
vehicle accidents involving onboard wheelchairs was found in the 
National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database that is 
maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC staff 
collect information from a sample of 95 (out of an estimated 6,000) 
hospitals nationwide that are equipped to accommodate emergency visits. 
Based upon data collected from January 1988 through September 1996, an 
estimated 1,320 wheelchair riders were injured as a result of vehicle 
accidents (Shaw, G., ``Wheelchair rider risk in motor vehicles: A 
technical note,'' Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 
Vol. 37, No. 1, Pgs. 89-100, January/February, 2000).
    Similar results were found in a different study that looked at 
NEISS data from 1986 to 1990. In that study, an estimated 2,200 
wheelchair riders were injured and the author concluded that ``improper 
securement accidents generally occur when the vehicle stops

[[Page 18691]]

too quickly or makes a sharp turn.'' Furthermore, the author could only 
find the record of one fatality between 1973 and 1991 that resulted 
from an occupant falling from the wheelchair due to a sudden stop 
(Richardson, H.A., ``Wheelchair occupants injured in motor vehicle-
related accidents,'' U.S. Department of Transportation National Center 
for Statistics and Analysis, Mathematical Analysis Division, 
Washington, DC, 1991).
    Both studies expressed the need for caution when using NEISS data 
to define wheelchair rider injury risk. Although the NEISS data source 
provides a perspective regarding the approximate number of incidents 
and insight as to the kinds of injury-producing situations, it does not 
provide sufficient specific detail such as a consistent reporting and 
classification of vehicle type and size (i.e., large, heavy vehicles 
versus small, lighter vehicles), the WTORS used, and the death and 
injury rate per unit of exposure. This information is needed to 
establish the risk and to evaluate the efficiency of risk-reduction 
efforts (Shaw, G., op cit., 2000).
    Voluntary standards have been developed to establish general design 
and performance requirements for wheelchairs intended to also be used 
as a vehicle seat and for WTORS. The American National Standards 
Institute/Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (ANSI/
RESNA) wheelchair standard (hereafter referred to ANSI/RESNA WC-19) 
provides wheelchair manufacturers with design and testing guidelines 
under frontal impact conditions for wheelchairs intended to be used as 
seats in motor vehicles (American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/
Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA), ``WC/
Volume 1, Section 19: Wheelchairs used as seats in motor vehicles,'' 
RESNA standard, Arlington, VA: RESNA, 2000). Similarly, a standard 
developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE J2249) provides 
guidance for the installation and usage of WTORS (SAE, ``SAE J2249: 
Wheelchair tie-downs and occupant restraints systems for use in motor 
vehicles,'' Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), 1996).
    Although these voluntary standards address the safety needs of 
wheelchair-seated travelers, there is still much that needs to be 
accomplished. For instance, the ANSI/RESNA WC-19 standards are used to 
assess the crashworthiness of complete wheelchair systems through a 
variety of tests including dynamic frontal impact testing. However, 
there are no requirements to test the crashworthiness of wheelchair 
systems under varying impact directions, such as side or rear impact 
crashes. Studies of both the biomechanics and kinematics of occupants 
and wheelchairs subjected to side and rear impact crashes could lead to 
a better understanding of injury risk for wheelchair-seated occupants 
under these circumstances and improved design criteria and safety 
standards.
    The SAE J2249 standards recommend using four-point, strap-type 
wheelchair tie-downs for securing wheelchairs to a vehicle. Devices 
such as these have been used for some time and are effective if the 
chair is designed to accommodate the strains and is secured properly. 
However, strap-type tie-downs are cumbersome and time-consuming, 
warranting the need for development of wheelchair tie-downs that are 
both safe and easy to operate.
    Finally, it is not uncommon for rehabilitation technology 
professionals to order a wheelchair frame or base from one supplier and 
add to it a separate seating system or other peripheral device, such as 
a ventilator, that has been purchased from another supplier. Despite an 
effort to evaluate the crashworthiness of a wheelchair system using the 
ANSI/RESNA WC-19 standards, the common practice of adding after-market 
or customized equipment invalidates the test results of a wheelchair 
tested with originally manufactured components. Subsequently, the 
after-market or customized equipment are not subjected to the same 
dynamic impact testing used on the original wheelchair system to 
evaluate its ability to withstand crash-level forces (Van Roosmalen, 
L., et al., ``Proposed Test Method for and Evaluation of Wheelchair 
Seating System (WCSS) Crashworthiness,'' Journal of Rehabilitation 
Research and Development, Vol. 37, No. 5, Pgs. 543-553, September/
October, 2000).
    Perhaps one of the most successful safety devices introduced by the 
automobile industry is the safety belt, or occupant restraint system. 
It is estimated that safety belts save 9,500 lives every year (National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ``America's Experience with Seat 
Belt and Child Seat Use,'' January 2, 2001: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/
injury/airbags/presbelt/america_seatbelt.html) and many States now make 
it mandatory for occupants riding in private vehicles to wear safety 
belts. Traditional vehicle seating systems protect their occupants 
through properly positioned occupant restraint systems and crashworthy 
seat design (Department of Transportation, U.S. National Center for 
Health Statistics, ``Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Seating 
Systems,'' U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 49 CFR 
571.207). Unfortunately, individuals who must remain seated in their 
wheelchairs while traveling in motor vehicles are unable to benefit 
from traditional seating systems. According to the SAE J2249 standards, 
the current practice for wheelchair-seated occupant pelvic restraints 
(lap belts) is to anchor the belts to the vehicle floor or to rear 
wheelchair tie-downs. Current practice for the shoulder restraint is to 
anchor one end of the belt on the vehicle wall or ceiling and the lower 
end to the pelvic restraint belt (Society of Automotive Engineers, 
``SAE J2249: Wheelchair tie-downs and occupant restraints (WTORS) for 
use in motor vehicles,'' 1996). ANSI/RESNA WC-19 recommends an 
additional wheelchair integrated pelvic restraint on wheelchairs that 
are used in motor vehicles (American National Standards Institute 
(ANSI)/Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA), 
``WC/Volume 1, Section 19: Wheelchairs used as seats in motor 
vehicles,'' RESNA Standard, Arlington, VA: RESNA, 2000). However, there 
are numerous problems associated with anchoring vehicle-mounted 
occupant restraint systems for wheelchair-seated occupants including, 
but not limited to, the limited number of anchoring options due to 
window locations, seating positions, and the vehicle's structural 
integrity. In addition, all users, regardless of wheelchair models, 
seat heights, etc., are required to use the same fixed occupant 
restraint systems that have the potential of compromising safety belt 
fit, comfort, and occupant safety.

Proposed Priority 2: RERC on Transportation Safety

    We propose to establish an RERC on transportation to improve the 
safety of wheelchair users who remain seated in their wheelchairs while 
using public and private transportation services and to investigate new 
wheelchair securement technologies that might enable wheelchair users 
to independently secure and release the wheelchair without the need for 
a second person. The RERC must:
    (a) Investigate and report on the incidence, extent, and nature of 
injury of wheelchair riders due to motor vehicle accidents, making a 
distinction between vehicle size and weight, and include 
recommendations for ways to minimize injury;

[[Page 18692]]

    (b) Investigate and report on safety issues, including both 
kinematics and biomechanics, related to wheelchair-seated occupants 
subjected to side and rear impact crashes;
    (c) Investigate, develop and evaluate universal securement 
interfaces that would enable wheelchair and scooter users to safely and 
independently secure their wheelchairs and scooters to motor vehicles;
    (d) Investigate and compare methods for dynamically testing the 
crashworthiness of after-market and customized wheelchair seating 
systems and peripheral devices and, if found to be viable, develop 
strategies for integrating these methods into existing voluntary 
wheelchair performance standards;
    (e) Investigate, develop, and evaluate integrated occupant 
restraint systems that are independent of the vehicle and easy for 
wheelchair-seated occupants to operate; and
    (f) Investigate the use of new or existing voluntary performance 
standards that would address problems associated with wheelchair-seated 
occupants subjected to side and rear impact crashes and potential 
benefits of using integrated occupant restraint systems, universal 
securement interfaces, and after-market and customized wheelchair 
seating systems and peripheral devices.
    In addition to the activities proposed by the applicant to carry 
out the purposes, the RERC must:
     Develop and implement in the first year of the grant, and 
in consultation with the NIDRR-funded National Center for the 
Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR), a plan to disseminate the 
RERC's research results to clinicians, engineers, manufacturers, 
persons with disabilities, disability organizations, technology service 
providers, businesses, and appropriate journals;
     Develop and implement in the first year, and in 
consultation with the NIDRR-funded RERC on Technology Transfer, a 
utilization plan for ensuring that all new and improved technologies 
developed by this RERC are successfully transferred to the marketplace;
     Conduct in the third year of the grant a state-of-the-
science conference on wheelchair transportation and publish a 
comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the conference in the 
fourth year of the grant;
     Collaborate on research projects of mutual interest with 
other projects, such as the NIDRR-funded RERC on Wheeled Mobility and 
the Federal Transit Administration-funded Project Action, as identified 
through consultation with the NIDRR project officer; and
     Collaborate with relevant Federal agencies responsible for 
the administration of public laws that address access to and usability 
of public and private transportation for individuals with disabilities 
including, but not limited to, the U.S. Department of Transportation's 
Federal Transit Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, and other relevant Federal agencies identified by the 
NIDRR project officer.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

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

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at the previous 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 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: 84.133E, 
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Program)

    Dated: April 4, 2001.
Andrew J. Pepin,
Executive Administrator for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 01-8722 Filed 4-9-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P