FR Doc 03-11629
[Federal Register: May 9, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 90)]
[Notices]               
[Page 25019-25023]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr09my03-78]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes funding priorities under the 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) Program for up to 
four awards for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research (NIDRR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 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 June 9, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about these proposed priorities to 
Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 3412, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2645. If you prefer 
to send your comments through the Internet, use the following address: 
donna.nangle@ed.gov.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 205-
5880.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the TDD number at (202) 205-4475 or via the Internet: 
donna.nangle@ed.gov.    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:

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 3412, Switzer Building, 330 C 
Street, SW., Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 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 who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other

[[Page 25020]]

documents in the public rulemaking record for these proposed 
priorities. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of 
aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT.
    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 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 competitive priority over 
an application of comparable merit that does not meet the competitive 
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, we do not give an application that meets the 
priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications 
(34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

    Note: NIDRR supports the goals of President Bush's New Freedom 
Initiative (NFI). The NFI can be accessed on the Internet at the 
following site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/freedominitiative/freedominitiative.html.

    These proposed priorities are in concert with NIDRR's Long-Range 
Plan (the Plan). The Plan is comprehensive and integrates many issues 
relating to disability and rehabilitation research topics. While 
applicants will find many sections throughout the Plan that support 
potential research to be conducted under these proposed priorities, a 
specific reference is included for the topic presented in this notice. 
The Plan can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/NIDRR/Products.
    Through the implementation of the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve 
the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) 
foster an exchange of expertise, information, and training to 
facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the unique 
needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) determine best 
strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for 
underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify 
mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate 
findings.

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

    We may make awards for up to 60 months to institutions of higher 
education or providers of rehabilitation or other appropriate services. 
RRTCs conduct coordinated and integrated advanced programs of research 
targeted toward the production of new knowledge, to improve 
rehabilitation methodology and service delivery systems, alleviate or 
stabilize disability conditions, or promote maximum social and economic 
independence for persons with disabilities. Additional information on 
the RRTC program can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/NIDRR/Programs/res_program.html#RRTC.

General Requirements of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

    RRTCs must:
    [sbull] Carry out coordinated advanced programs of rehabilitation 
research;
    [sbull] Provide training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-
service training, to help rehabilitation personnel more effectively 
provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
    [sbull] Provide technical assistance to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties;
    [sbull] Disseminate informational materials to individuals with 
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested 
parties;
    [sbull] Serve as centers for national excellence in rehabilitation 
research for individuals with disabilities, their representatives, 
providers, and other interested parties; and
    [sbull] Involve individuals with disabilities and individuals from 
minority backgrounds as recipients or research as well as training.
    The Department is particularly interested in ensuring that the 
expenditure of public funds is justified by the execution of intended 
activities and the advancement of knowledge and, thus, has built this 
accountability into the selection criteria. Not later than three years 
after the establishment of any RRTC, NIDRR will conduct one or more 
reviews of the activities and achievements of the Center. In accordance 
with the provisions of 34 CFR 75.253(a), continued funding depends at 
all times on satisfactory performance and accomplishment.

Priorities

Background

    Community integration (CI) and independent living (IL) are at the 
heart of NIDRR's mission, which is to develop 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.'' The Plan, which articulates this mission, emphasizes that 
community integration is not just about being located physically in the 
community; it is about full participation, independence, empowerment, 
choice, and control.
    CI and IL are critical components of the new model of disability 
set forth in the Plan. This model maintains that disability is a 
product of an interaction between individual characteristics and the 
characteristics of the natural, built, cultural, and social 
environments. It incorporates a civil-rights model of disability.
    NIDRR's focus on CI follows the stated purpose of IL programs under 
the Rehabilitation Act. That purpose is ``to promote a philosophy of 
independent living, including a philosophy of consumer control, peer 
support, self help, self determination, equal access, and individual 
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 urgent need for CI of individuals with disabilities was made 
clear during Congressional passage of the Americans with Disabilities 
Act (ADA). Witnesses testified that when they tried to participate in 
community life, they experienced exclusion, derision, and a host of 
architectural, communication, and transportation barriers (S. Report 
101-116, Committee on Labor and Human Resources report on S. 933, 101st 
Congress, 1989).

[[Page 25021]]

    While great strides have been made since the passage of the ADA in 
1990, much more remains to be done. In general, people with 
disabilities continue to live outside the mainstream of American life. 
They remain unnecessarily institutionalized. They have lower rates of 
participation in community life. They have lower educational levels and 
higher unemployment levels and poverty rates.
    The 2000 National Organization on Disability/Lou Harris Survey on 
Community Integration found that 40 percent of people with severe 
disabilities are not at all involved in their communities; this is 
almost double the percentage as people without disabilities.
    The NFI expands research on and access to assistive technology 
(AT); promotes education, homeownership, and employment opportunities 
for people with disabilities; and emphasizes swift implementation of 
the ADA and the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision. The Olmstead 
decision holds that title II of the ADA prohibits unjustified isolation 
or segregation of qualified individuals with disabilities through 
institutionalization. The President further issued Executive Order 
13217, ``Community-Based Alternatives for Individuals with 
Disabilities,'' which requires Federal agencies to implement Olmstead.
    In order to further the goals of CI and IL, NIDRR intends to fund 
up to four community integration-related RRTCs.
    Applicants must select from the following topic areas: (a) 
Community Integration for Individuals with Intellectual and 
Developmental Disabilities; (b) Promoting Healthy Aging and Community 
Inclusion Among Adults with Intellectual and Developmental 
Disabilities; (c) Positive Behavioral Support in Community Settings; 
(d) Policies Affecting Families of Children with Disabilities; (e) 
Community Integration for People with Psychiatric Disabilities; and (f) 
Community-Based Substance Abuse Rehabilitation for Individuals with 
Disabilities.
    For purposes of this priority, the definition of ``Intellectual 
Disability'' follows that of the American Association of Mental 
Retardation (AAMR). A person with an intellectual disability, as 
defined by the AMMR, must have:
    (1) A significantly sub-average general IQ. The AAMR defines this 
as an IQ of 70 or less on a standard measure of intelligence;
    (2) Limitations in two or more of the following adaptive skills: 
communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, 
self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, and leisure 
and work; and
    (3) Acquired their condition before 18 years old.
    For purposes of this priority, the definition of ``Developmental 
Disability'' follows the Developmental Disabilities from the 
Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act. The term 
developmental disability means a severe, chronic disability of an 
individual that:
    (1) Is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or 
combination of mental and physical impairments;
    (2) Is manifested before the individual attains age 22;
    (3) Is likely to continue indefinitely;
    (4) Results in substantial functional limitations in 3 or more of 
the following areas of major life activity: self-care; receptive and 
expressive language; learning; mobility; self-direction; capacity for 
independent living; economic self-sufficiency; and
    (5) Reflects the individual's need for a combination and sequence 
of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, individualized 
supports, or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended 
duration and are individually planned and coordinated.

Letters of Intent

    Due to the open nature of this competition, NIDRR is requiring all 
potential applicants to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI). Each LOI must 
be limited to a maximum of four pages and must include the following 
information: (1) The title of the proposed RRTC, the name of the host 
institution, the name of the Principal Investigator (PI), and the names 
of partner institutions and entities; (2) a brief statement of the 
vision, goals, and objectives of the proposed RRTC and a description of 
its research and development activities at a sufficient level of detail 
to allow NIDRR to select potential peer reviewers; (3) a list of 
proposed RRTC staff including the Center Director and key personnel; 
and (4) a list of individuals whose selection as a peer reviewer might 
constitute a conflict of interest due to involvement in proposal 
development, selection as an advisory board member, co-PI 
relationships, etc.
    The signed, original LOI, or with prior approval an e-mail or 
facsimile copy, must be received by NIDRR no later than June 9, 2003. 
Applicants that submit e-mail or facsimile copies must follow up by 
sending to NIDRR the signed original copy no later than one week after 
the date the e-mail or facsimile copy was sent. All communications 
pertaining to the LOI must be sent to: Ruth Brannon, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3425, Switzer Building, 
Washington, DC 20202-2645. For further information regarding the LOI 
requirement, contact Ruth Brannon at (202) 358-2971 or by e-mail
at: ruth.brannon@ed.gov.

Proposed Priorities

    The Assistant Secretary proposes to fund up to four RRTCs that will 
focus on improving the community integration outcomes of persons with 
disabilities. Each RRTC must:
    (1) Identify, develop, and evaluate rehabilitation techniques to 
address its respective area of research and improve outcomes for its 
designated population group;
    (2) Develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive plan for 
training critical stakeholders, e.g., consumers and their family 
members, practitioners, service providers, researchers, and 
policymakers;
    (3) Provide technical assistance to critical stakeholders, as 
appropriate, e.g., consumers and their family members, practitioners, 
and service providers, to facilitate utilization of research findings 
in its respective area of research; and
    (4) Develop a systematic plan for widespread dissemination of 
informational materials based on knowledge gained from the Center's 
research activities, and disseminate the materials to persons with 
disabilities, their representatives, service providers, and other 
interested parties.
    In addition to the activities proposed by the applicant to carry 
out these purposes, each RRTC must:
    [sbull] Conduct a state-of-the-science conference on its respective 
area of research in the third year of the grant cycle and publish a 
comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the conference in the 
fourth year of the grant cycle;
    [sbull] Coordinate on research projects of mutual interest with 
relevant NIDRR-funded projects as identified through consultation with 
the NIDRR project officer;
    [sbull] Involve individuals with disabilities in planning and 
implementing its research, training, and dissemination activities, and 
in evaluating the Center;
    [sbull] Demonstrate in its application how it will address, in 
whole or in part, the needs of individuals with disabilities from 
minority backgrounds.
    [sbull] Demonstrate how the RRTC project will yield measurable 
results for people with disabilities;

[[Page 25022]]

    [sbull] Identify specific performance targets and propose outcome 
indicators, along with time lines to reach these targets; and
    [sbull] Demonstrate how the RRTC project can transfer research 
findings to practical applications in planning, policy-making, program 
administration, and delivery of services to individuals with 
disabilities.
    Each RRTC must focus on one of the following priorities.
    (a) Community Integration for Individuals with Intellectual and 
Developmental Disabilities (I/DD): This Center must conduct qualitative 
and quantitative research, including the development and implementation 
of outcome measures, on factors that assist and hinder community 
integration, self-determination, training, employment, and independent 
living for persons with I/DD. The references for this topic can be 
found in the Plan, chapter 6, Independent Living and Community 
Integration: Independent Living and Community Integration Concepts; 
Expanding the Theoretical Framework; and Directions of Future Research 
on Independent Living and Community Integration.
    (b) Promoting Healthy Aging and Community Inclusion Among Adults 
with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD): This Center 
must conduct epidemiological and community-based research, training, 
and dissemination activities regarding factors, such as aging, 
healthcare utilization, and caregiver characteristics, that assist and 
hinder community integration for adults with intellectual and 
developmental disabilities. The references for this topic can be found 
in the Plan, chapter 4, Health and Function: Research on Aging with a 
Disability; and chapter 6, Independent Living and Community 
Integration: Independent Living and Community Integration Concepts; 
Expanding the Theoretical Framework; and Directions of Future Research 
on Independent Living and Community Integration.
    (c) Positive Behavioral Support in Community Settings: This Center 
must conduct research, training, and dissemination activities on 
positive behavioral support interventions that assist and sustain 
community integration efforts for a broad range of individuals with 
disabilities, including people with mental illness, over time and 
across systems. Dissemination and training efforts must target 
community partners, e.g., employers, teachers and coaches, and 
landlords, as well as individuals with disabilities and their families. 
The reference for this topic can be found in the Plan, chapter 6, 
Independent Living and Community Integration: Research on Increasing 
Personal Development and Adaptation.
    (d) Policies Affecting Families of Children with Disabilities: This 
Center must research and disseminate information on the effects of 
government, system, network, and agency policies on community 
integration and quality of life for families who have children with 
disabilities. The Center also must validate instruments to measure 
these effects and provide technical assistance, with the goal of 
improving community integration and quality of life, by: (a) enhancing 
and coordinating policies between systems and (b) informing and 
empowering family and peer-based networks and partnerships. The 
references for this topic can be found in the Plan, chapter 2, 
Dimensions of Disability: Employment and Independent Living; and 
chapter 6, Research on Social Roles.
    (e) Community Integration for People with Psychiatric Disabilities: 
This Center must research, disseminate, and provide training on 
factors, policies, and interventions, such as peer-support models and 
other innovative treatment approaches, that assist community 
integration for people with psychiatric disabilities. The target 
population may include individuals from any age group. The references 
for this topic can be found in the Plan, chapter 6, Independent Living 
and Community Integration: Independent Living and Community Integration 
Concepts; Expanding the Theoretical Framework; and Directions of Future 
Research on Independent Living and Community Integration.
    (f) Substance Abuse: This Center must conduct research, disseminate 
information, and provide training on community-based interventions, 
partnerships, and service delivery models that improve community 
integration outcomes for people with disabilities who are recovering 
from substance abuse problems. The target population may or may not 
include individuals with co-occurring disorders such as mental illness. 
The reference for this topic can be found in the Plan, chapter 2, 
Dimensions of Disability: Emerging Universe of Disability.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priorities has been reviewed in accordance 
with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have 
assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with the notice of proposed 
priorities are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we 
have determined as necessary for administering this program effectively 
and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priorities, we have 
determined that the benefits of the proposed priorities justify the 
costs.
    Summary of potential costs and benefits: The potential cost 
associated with these proposed priorities is minimal while the benefits 
are significant. Grantees may anticipate costs associated with 
completing the application process in terms of staff time, copying, and 
mailing or delivery. The use of e-Application technology reduces 
mailing and copying costs significantly.
    The benefits of the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center 
Program have been well established over the years in that similar 
projects have been completed. These proposed priorities will generate 
new knowledge through research, dissemination, utilization, training, 
and technical assistance projects.
    The benefit of these proposed priorities and proposed applications 
and project requirements will be the establishment of new RRTCs that 
generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new information that will 
improve the options for disabled individuals to perform regular 
activities in the community.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

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: 
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 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: 84.133B, 
Rehabilitation Research and Training Center Program.)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).


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    Dated: May 6, 2003.
Robert H. Pasternack,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 03-11629 Filed 5-8-03; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P