FR Doc E6-18192
[Federal Register: October 31, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 210)]
[Page 64077-64080]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

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Part VI

Department of Education


National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research--
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program; 

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National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research--
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program--
Disability Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRPs); Funding Priority

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

ACTION: Notice of final priority.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a final priority for the Disability 
and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered 
by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR). Specifically, this notice announces a priority for a DRRP on 
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): Transition Services that Lead to 
Competitive Employment Outcomes for Transition-Age Individuals With 
Blindness or Other Visual Impairments. The Assistant Secretary may use 
this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2007 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.
    Effective Date: This priority is effective November 30, 2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 6030, Potomac Center Plaza, 
Washington, DC 20202-2700. Telephone: (202) 245-7462 or via Internet:

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


Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program

    The purpose of the DRRP program is to plan and conduct research, 
demonstration projects, training, and related activities to develop 
methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology that maximize the 
full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent 
living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of 
individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most 
severe disabilities, and to improve the effectiveness of services 
authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. DRRPs 
carry out one or more of the following types of activities, as 
specified and defined in 34 CFR 350.13 through 350.19: Research, 
development, demonstration, training, dissemination, utilization, and 
technical assistance.
    An applicant for assistance under this program must demonstrate in 
its application how it will address, in whole or in part, the needs of 
individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds (34 CFR 
350.40(a)). The approaches an applicant may take to meet this 
requirement are found in 34 CFR 350.40(b). In addition, NIDRR intends 
to require all DRRP applicants to meet the requirements of the General 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Requirements 
priority that it published in a notice of final priorities in the 
Federal Register on April 28, 2006 (71 FR 25472).
    Additional information on the DRRP program can be found at:

    We published a notice of proposed priorities (NPP) for NIDRR's 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, 
including the DRRP program, in the Federal Register on June 7, 2006 (71 
FR 32938). The NPP included a background statement that described our 
rationale for the priority proposed in that notice.
    There are no differences between the NPP and this notice of final 
priority (NFP).

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to our invitation in the NPP, five parties submitted 
comments on the proposed priority addressed in this NFP. An analysis of 
the comments follows.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes, or 
suggested changes the law does not authorize us to make under the 
applicable statutory authority. In addition, we do not address general 
comments that raised concerns not directly related to the proposed 
    Comment: Four commenters expressed concern that the duration and 
the level of funding for the proposed DRRP may not be adequate to 
address the research activities proposed under the priority.
    Discussion: Although the funding level and the budget period were 
not addressed in the NPP, and are not subject to public comment, the 
Department is confident that the proposed funding level and budget 
period are reasonable.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter commended the U.S. Department of Education 
on its succinct synthesis of the problem, as well as its establishment 
of a priority for a DRRP that would research transition-age individuals 
with visual impairments. The commenter also suggested that the 
following additional issues should be considered for research and 
examination under the final priority: (1) The vital role of career 
education in the academic preparation of youths with visual 
disabilities; (2) The factors leading to disparities between 
postsecondary achievement and low employment outcomes of youth and 
young adults with blindness and other visual impairments; (3) The 
barriers to collaboration among service providers serving youth and 
young adults with blindness and other visual impairments and the impact 
of this disconnect on successful transition outcomes; (4) The factors 
contributing to successful adult outcomes, including orientation and 
mobility skills, socialization and independent living skills, and 
training in the use of materials in appropriate alternate media, such 
as Braille and new accessible information technologies; (5) The role of 
parents' attitudes and involvement in the transition process; and (6) 
Job-seeking strategies and the development of competitive employment 
    Discussion: NIDRR agrees with the commenter that each of the above 
issues is relevant to the scope of work of the proposed DRRP. Nothing 
in the proposed priority would preclude an applicant from proposing 
research that examines any or all of the issues listed by the 
commenter. However, NIDRR does not believe that it is appropriate to 
require all applicants to focus their research on one or all of these 
issues. The peer reviewers will assess the merits of research proposals 
    Changes: None.

    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. When inviting applications we 
designate the 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 

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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 competitive preference priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
competitive preference 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 invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other 
applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

    Note: This NFP is in concert with President George W. Bush's New 
Freedom Initiative (NFI) and the Plan. The NFI can be accessed on 
the Internet at the following site:[fxsp0

    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:[fxsp0]list/


    .1. Through the implementation of the NFI and 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.


    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services establishes a priority for a DRRP on VR: Transition Services 
that Lead to Competitive Employment Outcomes for Transition-Age 
Individuals With Blindness or Other Visual Impairments. Under this 
priority, the project must be designed to contribute to the following 
    (a) Increased knowledge about factors that influence vocational 
rehabilitation and/or transition outcomes and contribute to the 
acquisition of skills that correlate with sustained competitive 
employment and postsecondary success for transition-age individuals 
with blindness or other visual impairments. The grantee must: (1) 
Conduct a comprehensive literature review of research in the area of VR 
transition services that lead to successful employment outcomes for 
transition-age individuals with blindness or other visual impairments; 
(2) conduct a preliminary analysis of the Rehabilitation Services 
Administration (RSA) 911 Case Service Report data and other appropriate 
data sets to identify all pertinent information related to transition 
services for individuals with blindness or other visual impairments; 
and (3) examine factors that affect employment outcomes including the 
types of transition services provided by VR; the types of transition 
services provided by special education, if any; the age of the 
transitioning student at the time of first contact with VR; the amount 
of interaction the transitioning student has with VR prior to leaving 
school; the relationship the transition-age individual has with the VR 
counselor; the transition-age individual's early employment history; 
the transition-age individual's dependence on Social Security 
Administration (SSA) benefits; and the transition-age individual's 
socio-economic factors. In implementing item (3), the grantee must 
review VR case records from State VR agencies for the blind and State 
VR combined agencies, and interview consumers, rehabilitation 
professionals, teachers, postsecondary support service providers, SSA 
representatives, and other individuals involved in providing transition 
    (b) Improved outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually 
impaired. Through development, demonstration, and evaluation of 
intervention methods, the grantee must identify practices that support 
and lead to improved outcomes for transition-age individuals with 
blindness or other visual impairments, including outcomes in workforce 
participation, competitive employment, or other areas of postsecondary 
success. The grantee should include activities that facilitate 
development of skills that lead to employment (critical thinking and 
problem-solving skills, and personal qualities). Grantees must utilize 
a rigorous (e.g., experimental or quasi-experimental) design.
    (c) Dissemination of research findings to State VR agencies, 
education agencies, consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders.
    (d) Coordination with projects sponsored by NIDRR, RSA, and the 
Office of Special Education Programs to ensure that research conducted 
under this priority builds on rather than duplicates related research 
and to ensure effective dissemination strategies. At a minimum, the 
grantee must coordinate with the NIDRR Rehabilitation Research and 
Training Center (RRTC) on Measuring Rehabilitation Outcomes and current 
RSA-sponsored research on related topics (including the post-VR 
experiences study and the national study of transition policies and 
practices in State VR agencies, and other relevant projects).

Executive Order 12866

    This NFP 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 this NFP 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 NFP, we have determined that the benefits of 
the final priority justify the costs.

Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The potential costs associated with this final priority are minimal 
while the benefits are significant. Grantees may incur some 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 Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Programs have been well established over the years in that 
similar projects have been completed successfully. This final priority 
will generate new knowledge and technologies through research, 
development, dissemination, utilization, and technical assistance 
    Another benefit of this final priority is that the establishment of 
a new DRRP will support the President's NFI and will improve the lives 
of persons with disabilities. The new DRRP will generate, disseminate, 
and promote the use of new information that will improve the options 
for individuals with disabilities.
    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:

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    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 
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    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:

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.133A, Disability 
Rehabilitation Research Projects)

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

    Dated: October 24, 2006.
John H. Hager,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
 [FR Doc. E6-18192 Filed 10-30-06; 8:45 am]