[Federal Register: December 18, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 242)]
[Notices]             
[Page 67186-67189]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18de09-51]                          

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
(NIDRR)--Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers
Program--Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)--
Individual-Level Characteristics Related to Employment Among
Individuals With Disabilities

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority.

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    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133B-1.
SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services proposes a funding priority for the Disability
and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered
by NIDRR. Specifically, this notice proposes a priority for an RRTC.
The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in
fiscal year (FY) 2010 and later years. We take this action to focus
research attention on areas of national need. We intend this priority
to improve rehabilitation services and outcomes for individuals with
disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before January 19, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Donna Nangle, U.S.
Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 6029, Potomac
Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700.
    If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following
address: donna.nangle@ed.gov. 
You must include the term ``Proposed
Priority for an RRTC on Individual-Level Characteristics Related to
Employment Among Individuals with Disabilities'' in the subject line of
your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 245-
7462 or by e-mail: donna.nangle@ed.gov.

[[Page 67187]]

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of proposed priority is in
concert with NIDRR's Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). The
Plan, which was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2006
(71 FR 8165), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site:
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html.
    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.
    This notice proposes a priority that NIDRR intends to use for RRTC
competitions in FY 2010 and possibly later years. However, nothing
precludes NIDRR from publishing additional priorities, if needed.
Furthermore, NIDRR is under no obligation to make an award for this
priority. The decision to make an award will be based on the quality of
applications received and available funding.
    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding
this notice. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in
developing the notice of final priority, we urge you to clearly
identify the specific topic that each comment addresses.
    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 ways we could 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 notice in room 6029, 550 12th Street, SW., PCP,
Washington, DC between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.,
Washington, DC, time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal
holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities in Reviewing the
Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate
accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who
needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the
public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an
appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Purpose of Program: The purpose of the RRTC program is to improve
the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973, as amended, through advanced research, training, technical
assistance, and dissemination activities in general problem areas, as
specified by NIDRR. Such activities are designed to benefit
rehabilitation service providers, individuals with disabilities, and
the family members or other authorized representatives of individuals
with disabilities. In addition, NIDRR intends to require all RRTC
applicants to meet the requirements of the General Rehabilitation
Research and Training Centers (RRTC) Requirements priority that it
published in a notice of final priorities in the Federal Register on
February 1, 2008 (72 FR 6132). Additional information on the RRTC
program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html%23RRTC.

Statutory and Regulatory Requirements of RRTCs

    RRTCs must--
     Carry out coordinated advanced programs of rehabilitation
research;
     Provide training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-
service training, to help rehabilitation personnel more effectively
provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities;
     Provide technical assistance to individuals with
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested
parties;
     Disseminate informational materials to individuals with
disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested
parties; and
     Serve as centers of national excellence in rehabilitation
research for individuals with disabilities, their representatives,
providers, and other interested parties.
    Applicants for RRTC grants must also demonstrate in their
applications how they will address, in whole or in part, the needs of
individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

Proposed Priority

    This notice contains one proposed priority.

Individual-Level Characteristics Related to Employment Among
Individuals with Disabilities

    Background: Individuals with disabilities experience lower rates of
employment than those without disabilities, and the disparity in
employment rates is seen across all sociodemographic groups (Steinmetz,
2006; U.S. Census Bureau, 2006; U.S. Department of Labor, 2009). This
disparity in employment outcomes also extends to other aspects of
employment, such as monthly earnings and hourly wages (Ozawa & Yeo,
2006).
    Individuals with disabilities are a heterogeneous group and
employment-related outcomes for people with disabilities appear to be
associated with individual-level characteristics, such as severity of
disability and sociodemographic characteristics (Crisp, 2005; Ozawa =
&
Yeo, 2006). Many studies of individual-level characteristics and
employment-related outcomes of individuals with disabilities have been
based on samples of individuals with a specific disabling condition
such as spinal cord injury, making it difficult to generalize findings
across disability types (Krause, 2003; Krause & Terza, 2006; =
Phillips &
Stuifbergen, 2006; Walker et al., 2006). In the few studies that have
used samples of individuals with a variety of disabilities, disparities
in employment outcomes across subpopulations of individuals with
disabilities appear to be defined by the characteristics of the
individual's disability or sociodemographic group. For example, the
likelihood of poor employment outcomes tends to increase with severity
of disability (Crisp, 2005; Meade et al., 2004; Ozawa & Yeo, 2006;
Phillips & Stuifbergen, 2006; Walker et al., 2006). In addition, =
poorer
employment outcomes are associated with being a member of a minority
race or ethnic group or being less well educated (Crisp, 2005; Krause =
&
Terza, 2006; Ozawa & Yeo, 2006; Randolph & Andresen, 2004).
    More systematic analyses of cross-disability data are needed to
examine the associations among disability and sociodemographic
characteristics and employment-related outcomes in order to identify
those subpopulations of individuals with disabilities who are most at
risk for poor employment outcomes. In addition, there is a need

[[Page 67188]]

for further information about the barriers to, and facilitators of,
employment for specific subpopulations, which can be used to design
interventions to improve the employment outcomes of members of these
specific subpopulations.
    References:

    Crisp, R. (2005). Key factors related to vocational outcome:
Trends for six disability groups. Journal of Rehabilitation, 71, 30-
37.
    Krause, J. S. (2003). Years to employment after spinal cord
injury. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 84, 1282-
1289.
    Krause, J., Terza, J. (2006). Injury and demographic factors
predictive of disparities in earnings after spinal cord injury.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 87, 1318-1326.
    Meade, M., A.L., Njeri, J.M., & Hess, D. (2004). Race,
employment, and spinal cord injury. Archives of Physical Medicine
and Rehabilitation, 85, 1782-1792.
    Ozawa, M.N., & Yeo, Y., H. (2006). Work status and work
performance of people with disabilities. Journal of Disability
Policy Studies, 17, 180-190.
    Phillips, L., & Stuifbergen, A. (2006). Predicting continued
employment in persons with multiple sclerosis. Journal of
Rehabilitation, 72, 35-43.
    Randolph, D.W., & Andresen, E.M. (2004). Disability, gender, and =

unemployment relationships in the United States from the behavioral
risk factor surveillance system. Disability & Society, 19, 403-414.
    Steinmetz, E. (2006). Americans With Disabilities: 2002.
Household Economic Studies Current Population Reports P70-107
Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. See 
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disability/sipp/disable02.html.
    U.S. Census Bureau (2006). American Community Survey table
B1802: Selected Economic Characteristics for the Civilian
Noninstitutionalized Population By Disability Status. Washington,
DC: U.S. Census Bureau. See hhttp://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/STTable=
?_bm=3Dy%26-qr_name=3DACS_2006_EST_G00_S1802%26-geo_id=3D01000US%26-ds_na=
me=3DACS_2006_EST_G00_%26_-lang=3Den%26-format=3D%26-CONTEXT=3Dst.
    U.S. Department of Labor (2009). Labor force statistics from the
current population survey. See http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsdisability.htm.
    Walker, W., Marwitz, J., Kreutzer, J., Hart, T., & Novack, T.
(2006). Occupational categories and return to work after traumatic
brain injury: A multicenter study. Archives of Physical Medicine and
Rehabilitation, 87, 1576-1582.
    Proposed Priority: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education
and Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority for a Rehabilitation
Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Individual-Level Characteristics
Related to Employment Among Individuals with Disabilities. This RRTC
must identify subpopulations of individuals with disabilities who are
at risk of poor employment outcomes, and document the barriers to, and
facilitators of, employment that these subgroups experience. This new
knowledge is intended to serve as a foundation for future interventions
research that will target those who are most at risk of poor employment
outcomes. The RRTC must be designed to contribute to the following
outcomes:
    (a) A synthesis of available knowledge about employment disparities
among subpopulations of individuals with disabilities. The RRTC must
contribute to this outcome by conducting a review and synthesis of
existing research on individual-level characteristics related to
successful and poor employment outcomes among individuals with
disabilities. Such individual-level characteristics may include, but
are not limited to the following: disabling condition, severity of
disability, age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status,
education level, and urban/rural status. Successful and poor employment
outcomes may be measured by the following indicators: an individual's
employment status (e.g., employed, unemployed, underemployed), income,
and job retention or promotion. The RRTC must complete this activity by
the end of the first year of the grant.
    (b) New knowledge about the individual-level characteristics that
are most strongly associated with employment-related outcome variables
among individuals with disabilities. The RRTC must contribute to this
outcome by conducting research on the extent to which employment of
individuals with disabilities is related to individual-level
characteristics. This research must include, but is not limited to,
multivariate analyses of existing national datasets. Analyses of
existing data must examine possible variations of employment, including
full- or part-time work, self-employment, and industry sector. The RRTC
must complete this activity by the end of the second year of the grant.
    (c) New knowledge of the employment experiences of individuals who
are at risk of poor employment outcomes. The RRTC must contribute to
this outcome by collecting and analyzing information from members of
subpopulations identified under paragraphs (a) and (b) of this
priority. The RRTC must collect individual-level data about the
barriers to, and facilitators of, employment that members of these
subpopulations have experienced (e.g., the availability of
transportation to and from work, social support, workplace
accommodations, and employer practices).
    (d) Increased incorporation of disability and employment research
findings into practice or policy. The RRTC must contribute to this
outcome by:
    (1) Collaborating with stakeholder groups to develop, evaluate, or
implement strategies to promote utilization of the RRTC's research
findings.
    (2) Conducting training and dissemination activities to facilitate
the utilization of the RRTC's research findings by individuals with
disabilities, employers, policymakers, and State vocational
rehabilitation agencies.
    In addition, this RRTC must collaborate with relevant
Rehabilitation Services Administration grantees, such as the 10
regional Technical Assistance and Continuing Education projects.
    Types of Priorities: When inviting applications for a competition
using one or more priorities, we designate the type of each priority as
absolute, competitive preference, or invitational through a notice the
Federal Register. 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 (1)
awarding additional points, depending on the extent to which the
application meets the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2)
selecting an application that meets the priority over an application of
comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are
particularly interested in applications that meet the priority.
However, we do not give an application that meets the priority a
preference over other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).
    Final Priority: 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
additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection
criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in
which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through
a notice in the Federal Register.

    Executive Order 12866: This notice 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 proposed regulatory
action.

[[Page 67189]]

    The potential costs associated with this proposed regulatory action
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 proposed regulatory action, we have determined
that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs.
    Discussion of Costs and Benefits: The benefits of the Disability
and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Programs have been
well established over the years in that similar projects have been
completed successfully. This proposed priority will generate new
knowledge through research and development.
    Another benefit of this proposed priority is that the establishment
of a new RRTC will improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
The new RRTC will disseminate and promote the use of new information
that will improve the options for individuals with disabilities to
obtain, retain, and advance in employment.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is not subject to Executive
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print,
audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as
well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the
Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available
free at this site.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document
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.go=
v/nara/index.html.


    Dated: December 15, 2009.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. E9-30188 Filed 12-17-09; 8:45 am]

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