Speeches and Testimony

Statement by

Judith E. Heumann
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Before the

U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations

On the

Fiscal Year 2001 Request for Special Institutions for Persons with Disabilities

March 16, 2000

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:

It is my pleasure to appear before you on behalf of the Special Institutions for Persons with Disabilities, which include the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), and Gallaudet University. As you know, Dr. I. King Jordan, President of Gallaudet University, and I appeared before you earlier this morning to review Gallaudet University's fiscal year 2001 budget request.

The Special Institutions provide specialized programs and services to students with disabilities. The Department helps ensure that each institution provides services and programs in compliance with the requirements of its respective authorizing legislation and that these activities meet the needs of the students for whom they are intended. I am pleased to present the Department's testimony on behalf of the President's fiscal year 2001 budget for these institutions. I would like to take a few minutes to summarize the budget request and to comment on several key issues. Then representatives of the American Printing House and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf will provide specific testimony in support of the budget request for their respective programs.

Budget Request

The total budget request for the Special Institutions is $149.70 million. Within this amount, our request includes $10.265 million for the American Printing House for the Blind and $51.786 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The Department is pleased to be able to provide support for these important programs, and for the children and adults with disabilities who will benefit from their services.

Operations and Initiatives

The Department's request of $10.265 million for the American Printing House for the Blind is an increase of $165,000 above the fiscal year 2000 appropriation level. The fiscal year 2001 request also would retain $380,000 that was included in the fiscal year 2000 appropriation for initiatives that will be completed in 2000, will cost less in 2001, or for which APH did not request funding in 2001. The combination of the proposed increase and the funds retained from 2000 will be used to provide $183,000 to help offset the effect of inflation and assist with other consumer-services costs in program operations and increased funding for a number of special projects. These projects include: $5,000 to expand the Expert Database Service and $15,000 to expand the LOUIS Student-Use Initiative; 60,000 for a new initiative, the National Instructional Partnerships project, which is designed to develop new training opportunities for parents and personnel serving students with visual impairments; and $50,000 for the Collaborative Instructional Project with University-Based Teacher Training Programs, which is another new initiative under Advisory Services. Projects increased under Educational and Technical Research include: $11,000 for the second year of a three-year special initiative to produce primary-grade storybooks introducing tactile graphics; $6,000 to expand the Optical Aids and Curriculum Development project; $3,000 to offset higher production costs associated with the Textbook File Conversion project; and $23,000 to expand the scope of the Braille Literacy for Older Blind Students project. In addition, $189,000 will be used for a major new initiative to develop a tactile display that would simulate computer graphics.

Our request of $51.786 million for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf is an increase of $3.635 million over the fiscal year 2000 appropriation. The 2001 request also would retain $2.651 million that was included in the fiscal year 2000 appropriation for the first stage of the dormitory construction project. The combination of the increase of $3.635 million in funding above the 2000 level and the $2.651 million retained from 2000 would be used to provide an increase of $910,000 for operations to help offset the effect of inflation, and $5.376 million for the second year of the dormitory renovation project.

Endowment Funds

As in previous years, our request would provide NTID the flexibility to use current-year program funds for its endowment grant program. The Institute would have the discretion to determine whether and how much of the appropriation to use for matching purposes. Our request, however, continues to carry $586,000 which was incorporated into the operations base from prior years for endowment purposes. Mark, can I say this? The Department believes that the endowment grant program helps promote the financial independence of NTID and provides a permanent and increasing source of funds for special projects.

Construction Funds

The Department is requesting an increase of $2.725 million for NTID construction above the fiscal year 2000 appropriation level of $2.651 million, for a total of $5.376 million in construction funds for fiscal year 2001. These funds would be used for the second stage of the NTID dormitory renovation project. Originally, NTID had requested these funds in two increments. However, recent plans submitted by NTID show that it is now projecting to spend only $562,500 of the $2.651 million appropriated in fiscal year 2000. In addition, the Institute is now projecting that the funds will be needed over a 3-year period: $562,500 in 2000, $8,881,500 in 2001, and $2,408,000 in 2002. Pursuant to these changes, the Department's request for fiscal year 2001 represents the total of the funds needed for fiscal years 2000 and 2001, less the funds already provided for fiscal year 2000 and the 15 percent required match. The Department strongly believes that NTID should take advantage of the 85 percent match to leverage Federal resources and expand funding available for this project.

Major Activities

An issue that we have been working on with NTID and that we have discussed in our budget justification is the issue of comparable tuition policies between NTID and Gallaudet University for graduate students. Several years ago Gallaudet instituted a tuition surcharge of 10 percent for graduate students to reflect part of the additional cost associated with graduate education. We supported the University's policy and have recommended that NTID consider the adoption of a similar policy consistent with the University.

The Department has worked closely with NTID and APH to monitor and update their Annual Program Performance Plans and Reports to comply with the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). The integrated performance plans and reports that have been submitted to Congress for the Institutions include the key performance measures the Department believes are appropriate for inclusion in the GPRA plans. In addition, there are more extensive plans that we refer to as "master plans" for each institution. These plans contain other measures not included in the annual performance plans submitted to Congress that will be used by the institutions to oversee internal operations, and by the Department for monitoring purposes.

An example of a key measure for the American Printing House is how the materials that are provided through the Act affect student performance. The Printing House plans to conduct annual surveys of its Ex Officio Trustees and periodic surveys of teachers to better understand the impact of its educational materials on the performance of students. Although the 1999 survey data analysis is not yet available, the 1998 survey revealed that ninety-eight percent of the trustees reported that the performance of students and their participation in their educational programs had improved due to the availability of educational materials provided through the Act. In addition, the Printing House plans to conduct a survey of teachers in early 2001 to continue to collect data on the effect of the materials provided through the Act on the performance of students.

A major objective of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf is to maximize the number of students successfully completing a program of study. The retention of students plays a significant role in ensuring that students successfully complete a program of study. In fiscal year 1999, the Institute's overall retention rate was 74 percent, with 69 percent in sub-baccalaureate programs and 84 percent in baccalaureate programs. NTID plans to continue its concentration on retention in fiscal year 2000, and specifically its focus on sub-baccalaureate students, in order to meet the retention target of 73 percent. The graduation rate increased considerably in fiscal year 1999, with an overall rate of 53 percent, sub-baccalaureate programs at 50 percent and baccalaureate at 61 percent. NTID has instituted a number of strategies to continue to improve on the retention and graduation rates, including development and implementation of new instructional programs and practices, to enable underprepared students to acquire the skills necessary to complete a postsecondary program of study.

We are pleased with the efforts the institutions have made in working with the Department to develop and track these measures, which we believe are vitally important to the missions of their respective programs.

In fiscal year 2001, the Department plans to continue to work closely with the Special Institutions for Persons with Disabilities to ensure that Federal funds are being used efficiently and effectively to expand educational opportunities for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and individuals who are blind.

My colleagues and I will be happy to respond to any questions you may have.

[ Return to Budget News page ] Return to ED Home Page

Last Updated -- [3/15/2000] (mjj)