[Federal Register: August 14, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 157)]
[Page 48739-48741]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part IV

Department of Education


National Institute on Disability and Rehabalitation Research; Office of 
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Research--Assistive 
Technology Act Technical Assistance Program; Inviting Applications for 
Fiscal Year (FY) 2003; Notices

[[Page 48740]]



[RIN 1820 ZA31]

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority for one new award under the 
Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (AT Act) Technical Assistance Program 
(TA) for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research (NIDRR). The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for 
competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2003 and later years. We take this 
action to focus attention on an area of national need. We intend this 
priority to measure and improve the outcomes of the AT State grant 
program that serves individuals with disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before September 15, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this proposed priority 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: 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle, Telephone: (202) 205-
    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 


Invitation to Comment

    We invite you to submit comments regarding this proposed priority.
    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 this proposed 
priority. 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 this priority 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 

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking 

    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 this proposed priority. If you want to schedule 
an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person listed 
    We will announce the final priority in a notice in the Federal 
Register. We will determine the final priority 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 this proposed priority, 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.

Assistive Technology Act

    The AT Act reaffirmed the Federal role of promoting access to AT 
devices and services for individuals with disabilities. In 1988, 
Congress passed the original Technology Related Assistance for 
Individuals with Disabilities Act (Tech Act) to assist States to 
identify and respond to the AT needs of individuals with disabilities. 
Reauthorized in 1994, the Tech Act was premised on the assumption that 
individuals with disabilities needed access to AT devices and services, 
and that Federal funds could function as a catalyst and as leverage to 
create permanent systemic change within State infrastructures that did, 
could, or should make AT devices and services more readily available to 
individuals with disabilities.
    In addition to continuing the AT State grant program and TA 
activities conducted under the earlier Tech Act, the 1994 Tech Act 
amendments required each State grant to set aside funds for the 
Protection and Advocacy (P&A) system in each State to assist 
individuals with disabilities access AT devices and services. The 
amendments also included standards of accountability to ensure that 
States would meet the Tech Act goals within the ten-year funding 
    The Tech Act was replaced in 1998 with the AT Act, which authorized 
an additional three years of funding for the States. The AT Act was 
passed in recognition of the technology challenges that remain for 
individuals with disabilities. AT State grant programs have met some of 
these challenges, documented continuing needs and reported the outcomes 
of their efforts through the implementation of a web-based data 
collection system.



    The purpose of the AT Act Data Collection Project is to regularly 
collect data from the 56 AT State grant program grantees and 56 P&A 
systems that will provide information about access to and provision of 
AT devices and service. The analyses of this data can be used to 
identify outcomes, infer trends and impacts, identify effective and 
replicable strategies, and support the formulation of new policies and 
    In 1999, the Secretary established a Data Collection Project for a 
48-month period for the purpose of collecting annual data from the AT 
State grant program grantees that would provide evidence-based, 
measurable results for individuals with disabilities and

[[Page 48741]]

generate policy-relevant information for Federal, State and local 
decision-makers about the availability, use and purchase of AT devices 
and services as well as identify exemplary practices for improving 
access to AT services and devices.
    On-going analyses of data will provide for program development and 
inform planning activities. The AT Act received funding in the FY 2003 
budget to support operation through FY 2004. This Data Collection 
Project will be funded for 12 months to capture the grantees' 
activities during that period.


    The short-term goal of this proposed priority is to maintain and 
support the existing Web-based data collection instrument for AT Act 
State grantees and to develop and implement a new web-based data 
collection instrument for the AT Act P&A grantees. The long-term goal 
of this proposed priority is to evaluate the performance of the AT Act 
grantees' and to measure the outcomes and impacts of their activities. 
Performance indicators will be used to measure outcomes including the 
extent to which grantees achieve the following short-term and long-term 
goals: (1) Increase access to and dissemination of information about 
AT; (2) increase outreach to underserved groups; (3) increase technical 
assistance and training for consumers and service providers; (4) 
increase interagency coordination; and (5) the impact of activities on 
individuals with disabilities including improved access to and capacity 
to live independently in the community, participate in educational 
environments, and obtain and maintain employment.

Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary proposes a Data Collection Technical 
Assistance Project. The purpose of the project is to maintain and 
support the existing Web-based data collection instrument for the AT 
Act State grantees and to develop, implement, test, support and 
maintain a Web-based data collection instrument for the AT Act P&A 
grantees. The Data Collection Technical Assistance Project must:
    (a) Maintain and support the existing Web-based data collection 
instrument for the AT Act State grantees and develop, implement, test, 
support and maintain a Web-based data collection and analysis system, 
including a data collection instrument for the AT Act P&A grantees to 
assess performance, outcomes;
    (b) Train entities funded under the AT Act in the use of the data 
collection systems including specific training on the data collection 
    (c) Generate analytical reports based on the data collected from 
the grantees and prepare an annual report on grantees' performance and 
outcomes, including interpretations of findings;
    (d) Identify and evaluate successful strategies that can be linked 
to increased access to and provision of AT based on the data collected 
from the grantees, including analyses of use of AT by individuals with 
disabilities and national trends related to AT use by individuals with 
    (e) Coordinate information dissemination activities and distribute 
information about access to and provision of AT for individuals with 
disabilities of all ages to the AT Act State grantees, AT Act P&A 
grantees, grantees providing TA to the AT Act State grantees and P&A 
grantees, and the National AT Internet Site; and
    (f) Prepare and submit an annual report of findings about program 
outcomes, and separately prepare a report on assessment of the 
reliability of the data collection measures and validity of data 
collected from the AT Act grantees and P&A grantees, and the extent to 
which the data addresses the intended purposes of the data collection 

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priority 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 priority 
are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have 
determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and 
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priority, we have 
determined that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the 

Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The potential cost associated with this proposed priority 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 Data Collection Project have been well 
established over the years in that similar projects have been 
completed. This proposed priority will generate new knowledge through a 
dissemination, utilization, training, and technical assistance project.
    The benefit of this proposed priority and proposed applications and 
project requirements will be the establishment of a new Data Collection 
Technical Assistance Project that generates, disseminates, and promotes 
the use of new information that will improve access to AT and expand 
opportunities for employment, education and community life.

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: 
    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.gpoaccess.org/fr/.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.224B, Assistive 
Technology Act Technical Assistance Program)
    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 3014
    Dated: August 11, 2003.
Loretta Petty Chittum,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
[FR Doc. 03-20793 Filed 8-13-03; 8:45 am]