[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 17 (Friday, January 25, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 5330-5337]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-01418]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter III


Proposed Priorities and Definitions--NIDRR DRRP--Community Living 
and Participation, Health and Function, and Employment of Individuals 
With Disabilities

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

ACTION: Proposed priorities and definitions.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

CFDA Numbers: 84.133A-3, 84.133A-4, and 84.133A-5.

SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes funding priorities and definitions for 
the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program 
administered by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research (NIDRR). Specifically, this document proposes priorities for a 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) on Community 
Living and Participation of Individuals with Disabilities (Proposed 
Priority 1), a DRRP on Health and Function of Individuals with 
Disabilities (Proposed Priority 2), and a DRRP on Employment of 
Individuals with Disabilities (Proposed Priority 3). If an applicant 
proposes to conduct research under these priorities, the research must 
be focused on one of the four stages of research. This document 
proposes definitions for the four stages of research: exploration and 
discovery, intervention development, intervention efficacy, and scale-
up evaluation. The Assistant Secretary may use one or more of these 
priorities and definitions for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2013 
and later years. We take this action to focus research attention on 
areas of national need. We intend these priorities and definitions to 
contribute to improved employment and independent living outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before February 25, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this document to Marlene Spencer, 
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5133, 
Potomac

[[Page 5331]]

Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700.
    If you prefer to send your comments by email, use the following 
address: marlene.spencer@ed.gov. You must include the phrase ``Proposed 
Priorities for Combined RRTC Notice'' in the subject line of your 
electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marlene Spencer. Telephone: (202) 245-
7532 or by email: marlene.spencer@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text 
telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-
800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of proposed priorities and 
definitions is in concert with NIDRR's currently approved Long-Range 
Plan (Plan). The currently approved 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://www2.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/other/2006-1/021506d.pdf.
    Through the implementation of the currently approved 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 document proposes three priorities and four definitions that 
NIDRR intends to use for a DRRP competition in FY 2013 and possibly 
later years. However, nothing precludes NIDRR from publishing 
additional priorities and definitions, if needed. Furthermore, NIDRR is 
under no obligation to make an award using any of these priorities. 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 document. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in 
developing the notice of final priorities, we urge you to identify 
clearly the specific priority or definition that each comment 
addresses.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Orders 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed 
priorities and definitions. 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 document in Room 5133, 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 document. 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 Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program is to plan and 
conduct research, demonstration projects, training, and related 
activities, including international 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 (Rehabilitation Act).

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects

    The purpose of NIDRR's DRRPs, which are funded through the 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, is 
to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the 
Rehabilitation Act by developing methods, procedures, and 
rehabilitation technologies that advance a wide range of independent 
living and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, 
especially individuals with the most severe disabilities. 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, training, 
demonstration, development, dissemination, utilization, and technical 
assistance.
    An applicant 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). Additional information on the DRRP program can be 
found at: www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#DRRP.

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

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

Proposed Priorities

    This document contains three proposed priorities. Each priority 
reflects a major area or domain of NIDRR's research agenda. These 
domains include community living and participation, health and 
function, and employment of individuals with disabilities.
    If the applicant proposes to conduct research under these 
priorities, the research must be focused on a specific stage of 
research. If the DRRP is to conduct research that can be categorized 
under more than one stage, or research that progresses from one stage 
to another, those stages must be clearly specified. For purposes of 
these priorities, the stages of research (i.e., exploration and 
discovery, intervention development, intervention efficacy, and scale-
up evaluation) are defined in the DEFINITIONS section of this document.

Proposed Priority 1--Disability Rehabilitation Research Project on 
Community Living and Participation of Individuals With Disabilities

Background

    The United States Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, 527 U.S. 581 
(1999), requires States to provide services ``in the most integrated 
setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with 
disabilities,'' except in the rare instances where the individual 
objects or competent professionals consider it inappropriate. Id. at 
607. Federal efforts to support the implementation of this decision 
have included, among others, the New Freedom Initiative, the Year of 
Community Living, Community First Choice, and the Money Follows the 
Person demonstration program. Despite these national efforts, 
individuals with disabilities of all ages continue to experience 
significant barriers to living in the community and participating in 
the typical educational, employment, recreational, and civic and social 
activities (Reinhart, et al., 2011;

[[Page 5332]]

Houtenville et al., 2011; Brault, 2008; National Council on Disability 
(NCD), 2004; Rimmer et al., 2004; Gibson, 2003). Barriers to community 
living and participation include, but are not limited to, insufficient 
affordable home and community-based long-term services and supports 
(LTSS), such as personal assistance, assistance for family caregivers, 
assistive technologies and devices, and home modifications; shortages 
of affordable and accessible housing; inadequate transportation 
services; limited personal knowledge of community resources; and poor 
health status (Cooper, O'Hara & Zovistowski, 2011; Reinhart et al., 
2011; NCD, 2004; Rimmer, et al., 2004; Gibson, 2003).
    U.S. Census Bureau data indicate that an estimated 8 million adults 
in the non-institutionalized population need personal assistance with 
activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, dressing, and toileting) 
(U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). By 2030, this number is estimated to 
increase to between 8.8 million and 12.3 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 
2009). In addition, while studies show that most adults requiring 
assistance with daily activities prefer to live with support in their 
own homes (Salomon, 2010; Gibson, 2003), there is a growing disparity 
between the need for and supply of paid and informal direct care 
workers and family caregivers (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute 
(PHI), 2008; Hewitt et al., 2008; U.S. Department of Health and Human 
Services, 2003). In a 2007 national survey, 86 percent of States 
considered the shortage of direct care workers to be a serious issue 
affecting their ability to meet the growing demand for long-term 
services and supports among adults with disabilities (PHI, 2009).
    Individuals with disabilities, especially those with more 
significant disabilities, report feeling socially isolated and lonely 
in their communities (Price, Stephenson, Krantz & Ward, 2011). They are 
less satisfied with their community participation than their 
counterparts without disabilities (National Organization on Disability, 
2000; Sheppard-Jones, Prout & Kleinert, 2005), and participate in fewer 
community activities than their counterparts without disabilities. For 
example, despite the evidence of benefits of regular physical activity 
for health and functioning, individuals with disabilities are far less 
likely to engage in physically active lifestyles than are individuals 
without disabilities (Rimmer, et al., 2004; Spivock, et al., 2008). 
Similarly, individuals with disabilities are much less likely than 
those without disabilities to be actively engaged in the workforce. 
Approximately 18 percent of individuals with disabilities who are age 
16 or older are employed, compared to 64 percent of those without 
disabilities (U.S. Department of Labor, 2012). To address disparities 
in community participation, and to improve the opportunities and 
abilities of individuals with disabilities to live as integrated 
members of their communities, NIDRR proposes to fund one or more 
Disability Rehabilitation Research Project(s) (DRRPs) on Community 
Living and Participation for Individuals with Disabilities.
    NIDRR has funded a wide range of disability research and 
development projects related to the community living and participation 
of individuals with disabilities. In accordance with NIDRR's Plan, 
NIDRR seeks to build on these investments by supporting innovative and 
well-designed research and development projects that fall under one or 
more of NIDRR's general ``community living and participation'' priority 
areas, as described in the following proposed priority. NIDRR hopes to 
increase competition and innovation by allowing applicants to specify 
the research topics under the broad priority areas within the community 
living and participation domain. If an applicant proposes to conduct 
research activities, the applicant must identify the relevant priority 
area or areas, indicate the stage or stages of the proposed research 
(i.e., exploration and discovery, intervention development, 
intervention efficacy, and scale-up evaluation), justify the need and 
rationale for research at the proposed stage or stages, and describe 
fully an appropriate methodology or methodologies for the proposed 
research.

References

Brault, M.W. (2012) Americans with Disabilities: 2010. Washington, 
DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau. Economics and 
Statistics Administration, July 2012.
Brault, M.W. (2008) Americans with Disabilities. Current Population 
Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census 
Bureau.
Cooper, E., O'Hara, A., Zovistoski, A. (2011). Priced Out: The 
Housing Crisis for People with Disabilities. Technical Assistance 
Collaborative, Inc. Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, 
Housing Task Force. Available from: www.tacinc.org/downloads/Priced%20Out%202010/PricedOut2010.pdf.
Gibson M.J. (2003) Beyond 50.03: A Report to the Nation on 
Independent Living and Disability. Washington, DC: AARP Public 
Policy Institute (PPI). Available from: http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/il/beyond_50_il_1.pdf.
Hewitt, A, Larson, S., Edelstein, S., Seavey, D., Hoge, M., Morris, 
J. (2008). A Synthesis of Direct Service Workforce Demographics and 
Challenges Across Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities, Aging, 
Physical Disabilities, and Behavioral Health. National Direct 
Service Workforce Resource Center. Available from: 
www.dswresourcecenter.org.
Houtenville, A., Ruiz, T., Gould, P., Guntz, N., Gianino, M., 
Paradis, J., Kurtz, M., Abraham, D., Brucker, D. (2011) 2011 Annual 
Disability Statistics Compendium. Durham NH: University of New 
Hampshire, Institute on Disability.
National Council on Disability (NCD). (2004) Livable Communities for 
Adults with Disabilities. National Council on Disability: 
Washington, DC. Published December 2, 2004. Available from: 
www.ncd.gov.
National Organization on Disability (2000). N.O.D./Harris Community 
Participation Study. Available from: http://nod.org/research_publications/nod_harris_survey/2000_survey_of_community_participation/.
PHI (formerly the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) (2008). 
Occupational Projections for Direct-Care Workers 2006-2016, Facts 1. 
Bronx, NY: PHI. Available from: www.directcareclearinghouse.org/download/BLSfactSheet4-10-08.pdf.
PHI (formerly the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) (2009). The 
2007 National Survey of State Initiatives on the Direct-Care 
Workforce: Key Findings. Prepared by PHI and the Direct Care Workers 
Association of North Carolina (DCWA-NC). Available from: 
www.directcareclearinghouse.org/download/PHI-StateSweepReport%20final%2012%209%2009.pdf.
Price, P., Stephenson, S., Krantz, L., Ward, K. (2011) Beyond my 
Front Door: The Occupational and Social Participation of Adults with 
Spinal Cord Injury. OTJR: Occupation, Participation, and Health. 
31(2): 81-88.
Reinhart, SC, Kassner, E, Houser, A. and Mollica, R. (September 
2011) Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services 
and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, 
and Family Caregivers. The AARP Foundation: Washington, DC. 
Available from: http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/ltc/ltss_scorecard.pdf.
Rimmer J, Riley B, Wang E, Rauworth A., Jurkowski J. (2004) Physical 
Activity Participation Among Persons with Disabilities: Barriers and 
Facilitators. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(5): 419-
425.
Salomon, E. (2010) AARP Public Policy Institute: Housing Policy 
Solutions to Support Aging in Place. Fact Sheet 172. ARRP Center for 
Housing Policy: Washington, DC. Available from: http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/liv-com/fs172-aging-in-place.pdf.
Sheppard-Jones, K, Prout, T, Kleinert, H. Quality of Life Dimensions 
for Adults with Developmental Disabilities: A

[[Page 5333]]

Comparative Study. Mental Retardation. 43(4): 281-291.
Spivock M., Gauvin L., Riva M, Brodeur JM. (2008). Promoting Active 
Living Among People with Physical Disabilities: Evidence for 
Neighborhood-Level Buoys. American Journal of Preventive Medicine; 
34(4): 291-298.
U.S. Census Bureau (2009) American Community Survey 2005-2009. Based 
on tabulations prepared by the Center for Personal Assistance 
Services of public use data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American 
Community Survey (ACS) for 2009. Available from: www.pascenter.org/state_based_stats/disability_stats/adl_projections.php?state=us.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2003), Office of the 
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The Future Supply 
of Long-Term Care Workers in Relation to the Aging Baby Boom 
Generation: Report To Congress. May 14, 2003. Available from: http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/ltcwork.pdf.
U.S. Department of Labor (2012a). Economic News Release: Table A-6. 
Employment Status of the Civilian Population by Sex, Age, and 
Disability Status, not Seasonally Adjusted. Available from: 
www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t06.htm.

Proposed Priority 1

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for a Disability Rehabilitation Research 
Project (DRRP) on Community Living and Participation of Individuals 
with Disabilities. The DRRPs must contribute to the outcome of 
maximizing the community living and participation outcomes of 
individuals with disabilities.
    (1) To contribute to this outcome, the DRRP must--
    (a) Conduct either research activities or development activities, 
in one or more of the following priority areas:
    (i) Technology to improve community living and participation 
outcomes for individuals with disabilities, generally or within 
specific disability or demographic groups.
    (ii) Individual and environmental factors associated with improved 
community living and participation outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities generally or within specific disability or demographic 
groups.
    (iii) Interventions that contribute to improved community living 
and participation outcomes for individuals with disabilities generally 
or within specific disability or demographic groups. Interventions 
include any strategy, practice, program, policy, or tool that, when 
implemented as intended, contributes to improvements in outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities.
    (iv) Effects of government policies and programs on community 
living and participation outcomes for individuals with disabilities 
generally or in specific disability or demographic groups.
    (v) Research, knowledge translation, and capacity building for 
improved community living and participation outcomes for individuals 
with disabilities generally or within specific disability or 
demographic groups.
    (vi) Practices and policies that contribute to improved community 
living and participation outcomes for transition-aged youth with 
disabilities;
    (b) If conducting research under paragraph (1)(a) of this priority, 
focus its research on a specific stage of research. If the DRRP is to 
conduct research that can be categorized under more than one stage, 
including research that progresses from one stage to another, those 
stages must be clearly specified. These stages, exploration and 
discovery, intervention development, intervention efficacy, and scale-
up evaluation, are defined in this document;
    (c) Conduct knowledge translation activities (i.e., training, 
technical assistance, utilization, dissemination) in order to 
facilitate stakeholder (e.g., individuals with disabilities, employers, 
policymakers, practitioners) use of the interventions, programs, 
technologies, or products that resulted from the research or 
development activities conducted under paragraph (1)(a) of this 
priority; and
    (d) Involve key stakeholder groups in the activities conducted 
under paragraph (1)(a) of this priority in order to maximize the 
relevance and usability of the research or development products to be 
developed under this priority.

Proposed Priority 2--Disability Rehabilitation Research Project on 
Health and Function of Individuals With Disabilities

Background

    In the United States, approximately 56.7 million individuals have a 
disability, including 38.3 million who have a severe disability 
(Brault, 2012). Research has contributed to a wide variety of policies, 
programs, services, interventions, and products to enhance the health 
and function of individuals with disabilities. Despite this work, a 
large number of individuals with disabilities with significant health 
conditions and functional limitations lack adequate access to health 
care, personal assistance services, and rehabilitation services 
(National Council on Disability, 2009). Maximizing the health and 
function of individuals with disabilities is critical to their general 
well-being and their fulfillment of personal aspirations in areas such 
as employment and community participation (Henry et al., 2007; Waghorn 
et al., 2008).
    Adults with disabilities are substantially more likely than adults 
without disabilities to be in fair or poor health (as opposed to 
excellent, very good, or good health), and to experience a wide variety 
of diseases and chronic conditions (Bureau for Health Information, 
Statistics, Research, and Evaluation, 2011). Health risks often vary by 
condition. For example, individuals with significant vision loss or 
with an intellectual disability have a greater prevalence of obesity, 
hypertension, and heart disease than individuals without disabilities 
(Capella-McDonnall, 2007; Stancliffe et al., 2011). Such risks often 
have major adverse health outcomes, including reduced longevity. For 
example, 60 percent of individuals with serious mental illness die 25 
or more years earlier than the general population due to preventable or 
treatable chronic diseases (Colton, Manderschied, 2006). Despite their 
substantial health needs and elevated risk of adverse health outcomes, 
individuals with disabilities are at a substantial disadvantage in 
obtaining access to needed health care services compared to those 
without disabilities (National Council on Disability, 2009; Yee, 2011).
    In addition to health impairments, individuals with disabilities 
experience a wide range of functional limitations that jeopardize their 
access to employment and other forms of community participation. 
According to the U.S. Census Bureau 5 million adults need assistance 
from another person to perform one or more activities of daily living, 
such as getting around inside the home, getting into or out of bed, 
bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting. Approximately 15 million 
individuals have difficulty with one or more instrumental activities of 
daily living such as going outside the home, managing money, preparing 
meals, doing housework, taking prescription medication, and using the 
phone (Brault, 2012). As the number of individuals with disabilities in 
the United States continues to grow (Institute on Medicine, 2007), it 
will be necessary to improve the Nation's capacity to meet their needs 
and access their talents. This will require the development and 
refinement of policies, programs, practices, and technologies that 
reduce functional limitations and improve health outcomes for these 
individuals.

[[Page 5334]]

    NIDRR has funded a wide range of disability research and 
development projects related to the health and functional outcomes of 
individuals with disabilities. In accordance with NIDRR's Plan, NIDRR 
seeks to build on these investments by supporting innovative and well-
designed research and development projects that fall under one or more 
of NIDRR's general ``health and function'' priority areas, as described 
in the following proposed priority. NIDRR hopes to increase competition 
and innovation by allowing applicants to specify the research topics 
under the broad priority areas within the health and function domain. 
If an applicant proposes to conduct research activities, the applicant 
must identify the relevant priority area or areas, indicate the stage 
or stages of the proposed research in its application (i.e., 
exploration and discovery, intervention development, intervention 
efficacy, and scale-up evaluation), justify the need and rationale for 
research at the proposed stage or stages, and describe fully an 
appropriate methodology or methodologies for the proposed research.

References

Brault, M. W. (2012). Americans with Disabilities: 2010. U.S. Census 
Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce. (available at: www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf.
Bureau for Health Information, Statistics, Research, and Evaluation 
(2011). A Profile of Health Among Massachusetts Adults, 2010: 
Results from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. 
Massachusetts Department of Public Health. (available at: 
www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/data.html).
Capella-McDonnall, M. (2007). The Need for Health Promotion for 
Adults Who Are Visually Impaired, Journal of Visual Impairment and 
Blindness, 101(3): 133-145. (available at: http://lvib.org/2010/09/02/september-awareness/).
Colton CW, Manderscheid RW (2006). Congruencies In Increased 
Mortality Rates, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Causes of Death 
Among Public Mental Health Clients in Eight States. Preventing 
Chronic Disease, 3(2): 1-10. (available at: www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2006/apr/05_0180.htm).
Henry, A., Banks, S., Clark, R., & Himmelstein, J. (2007). Mobility 
Limitations Negatively Impact Work Outcomes Among Medicaid Enrollees 
with Disabilities. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 17(3), 
355-369.
Institute on Medicine (2007). The Future of Disability in America. 
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
National Council on Disability (2009). The Current State of Health 
Care for People with Disabilities. National Council on Disability. 
Washington, DC. (available at: www.ncd.gov/publications/2009/Sept302009).
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (2006). 
Notice of Final Long-Range Plan for Fiscal Years 2005-2009. Federal 
Register. Vol 71, No 31. P 8166-8200.
Stancliffe, R., Lakin, K.C., Larson, S., Taub, S., Bershadsky, J., & 
Fortune, J. (2011). Overweight and obesity among adults with 
intellectual disabilities who use ID/DD services in the U.S. 
American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 
116(6), 401-418.
Waghorn, G., Loyd, C., Abraham, B., Silvester, D., & Chant, D. 
(2008). Comorbid physical health conditions hinder employment among 
people with psychiatric disabilities. Psychiatric Rehabilitation 
Journal, 31(3), 243-247.
Yee, Sylvia (2011). Health and Health Care Disparities Among People 
with Disabilities. Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund. 
Berkeley, CA. (available at: www.dredf.org/healthcare/Health-and-Health-Care-Disparities-Among-People-with-Disabilities.pdf).

Proposed Priority 2

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for a Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Project (DRRP) on Health and Function of Individuals with 
Disabilities. The DRRPs must contribute to the outcome of maximizing 
health and function outcomes of individuals with disabilities.
    (1) To contribute to this outcome, the DRRP must--
    (a) Conduct either research activities or development activities in 
one or more of the following priority areas:
    (i) Technology to improve health and function outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities, generally or within specific disability 
or demographic groups.
    (ii) Individual and environmental factors associated with improved 
access to rehabilitation and healthcare and improved health and 
function outcomes for individuals with disabilities generally or within 
specific disability or demographic groups.
    (iii) Interventions that contribute to improved health and function 
outcomes for individuals with disabilities generally or within specific 
disability or demographic groups. Interventions include any strategy, 
practice, program, policy, or tool that, when implemented as intended, 
contributes to improvements in outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities.
    (iv) Effects of government policies and programs on health care 
access and on health and function outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities generally or within specific disability or demographic 
groups.
    (v) Research, knowledge translation, and capacity building for 
improved health and function outcomes for individuals with disabilities 
generally or within specific disability groups.
    (vi) Practices and policies that contribute to improved health and 
function outcomes for transition-aged youth with disabilities;
    (b) If conducting research under paragraph (1)(a) of this priority, 
focus its research on a specific stage of research. If the DRRP is to 
conduct research that can be categorized under more than one stage, 
including research that progresses from one stage to another, those 
stages must be clearly specified. These stages, exploration and 
discovery, intervention development, intervention efficacy, and scale-
up evaluation, are defined in this document;
    (c) Conduct knowledge translation activities (i.e., training, 
technical assistance, utilization, dissemination) in order to 
facilitate stakeholder (e.g., individuals with disabilities, employers, 
policymakers, practitioners) use of the interventions, programs, 
technologies, or products that resulted from the research or 
development activities conducted under paragraph (1)(a) of this 
priority; and
    (d) Involve key stakeholder groups in the activities conducted 
under paragraph (1)(a) of this priority in order to maximize the 
relevance and usability of the research or development products to be 
developed under this priority.

Proposed Priority 3--Disability Rehabilitation Research Project on 
Employment of Individuals With Disabilities

Background

    Despite the enactment of legislation and the implementation of a 
variety of policy and program efforts at the Federal and State levels 
to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities, the 
employment rate for individuals with disabilities remains substantially 
lower than the rate for those without disabilities.
    Approximately 18 percent of individuals with a disability aged 16 
years and older are employed, compared to 64 percent of individuals of 
the same age without a disability. The unemployment rate for these two 
populations is 13.5 percent, and 7.3 percent, respectively (U.S. 
Department of Labor, 2012). The economic downturn in recent years has 
disproportionately impacted employment outcomes of individuals with 
disabilities; among individuals 25 to 54 years of age during the recent 
recession, the unemployment rate of

[[Page 5335]]

individuals with a disability ranged from 2.0 to 2.3 times that of 
individuals without a disability (Fogg, Harrington, McMahon, 2010). Not 
only are individuals with a disability much less likely to be employed, 
the median earnings for individuals with a disability who are employed 
are $19,735 per year as compared to $30,285 per year earned by persons 
without a disability (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011).
    NIDRR has funded a wide range of disability research and 
development projects related to the employment outcomes of individuals 
with disabilities. In accordance with NIDRR's Plan, NIDRR seeks to 
build on these investments by supporting innovative and well-designed 
research and development projects that fall under one or more of 
NIDRR's general employment priority areas as described in the following 
proposed priority. NIDRR hopes to increase competition and innovation 
by allowing applicants to specify the research topics under the broad 
priority areas within the employment domain. If an applicant proposes 
to conduct research activities, the applicant must identify the 
relevant priority area or areas, indicate the stage or stages of the 
proposed research in its application (i.e., exploration and discovery, 
intervention development, intervention efficacy, and scale-up 
evaluation), justify the need and rationale for research at the 
proposed stage or stages and describe fully an appropriate methodology 
or methodologies for the proposed research.

References

Fogg, N.P., Harrington, P.E., & McMahon, B.T. (2011). The 
Underemployment of Persons with Disabilities During the Great 
Recession. The Rehabilitation Professional, 19(1), 3-10.
U.S. Census Bureau (2011) American Community Survey: Table B18140. 
Available from: http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml.
U.S. Department of Labor (2012). Economic News Release: Table A-6. 
Employment Status of the Civilian Population by Sex, Age, and 
Disability Status, Not Seasonally Adjusted. Available from: 
www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t06.htm.

Proposed Priority 3

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services announces a priority for a Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Project (DRRP) on Employment of Individuals with Disabilities. 
The DRRPs must contribute to the outcome of maximizing employment 
outcomes of individuals with disabilities.
    (1) To contribute to this outcome, the DRRP must--
    (a) Conduct either research activities or development activities, 
in one or more of the following priority areas:
    (i) Technology to improve employment outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities, generally or within specific disability or demographic 
groups.
    (ii) Individual and environmental factors associated with improved 
employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities generally or 
within specific disability or demographic groups.
    (iii) Interventions that contribute to improved employment outcomes 
for individuals with disabilities generally or within specific 
disability or demographic groups. Interventions include any strategy, 
practice, program, policy, or tool that, when implemented as intended, 
contributes to improvements in outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities.
    (iv) Effects of government policies and programs on employment 
outcomes for individuals with disabilities generally or in specific 
disability or demographic groups.
    (v) Research, knowledge translation, and capacity building for 
improved employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities 
generally or within specific disability groups.
    (vi) Practices and policies that contribute to improved employment 
outcomes for transition-aged youth with disabilities.
    (vii) Vocational rehabilitation (VR) practices that contribute to 
improved employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities;
    (b) If conducting research under paragraph(1)(a) of this priority, 
focus its research on a specific stage of research. If the DRRP is to 
conduct research that can be categorized under more than one stage, 
including research that progresses from one stage to another, those 
stages must be clearly specified. These stages, exploration and 
discovery, intervention development, intervention efficacy, and scale-
up evaluation, are defined in this document;
    (c) Conduct knowledge translation activities (i.e., training, 
technical assistance, utilization, dissemination) in order to 
facilitate stakeholder (e.g., individuals with disabilities, employers, 
policymakers, practitioners) use of the interventions, programs, 
technologies, or products that resulted from the research activities, 
development activities, or both, conducted under paragraph (1)(a) of 
this priority; and
    (d) Involve key stakeholder groups in the activities conducted 
under paragraphs (1)(a) of this priority in order to maximize the 
relevance and usability of the research or development products to be 
developed under this priority.

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 in 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)).

Proposed Definitions

Background

    For the purpose of NIDRR's DRRPs and other programs that NIDRR uses 
to sponsor research activities, definitions of the four stages of 
research (i.e., exploration and discovery, intervention development, 
intervention efficacy, and scale-up evaluation) are proposed in this 
document.

Proposed Definitions

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes the following definitions for this program. We may 
apply one or more of these definition in any year in which this program 
is in effect.
    Exploration and discovery means the stage of research that 
generates hypotheses or theories by conducting new and refined analyses 
of data, producing observational findings, and creating other sources 
of research-based information. This research stage may include 
identifying or describing the barriers to and facilitators of improved 
outcomes of individuals with disabilities, as well as identifying or 
describing existing practices, programs, or policies that are 
associated with important aspects of the lives of

[[Page 5336]]

individuals with disabilities. Results achieved under this stage of 
research may inform the development of interventions or lead to 
evaluations of interventions or policies. The results of the 
exploration and discovery stage of research may also be used to inform 
decisions or priorities.
    Intervention development means the stage of research that focuses 
on generating and testing interventions that have the potential to 
improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Intervention 
development involves determining the active components of possible 
interventions, developing measures that would be required to illustrate 
outcomes, specifying target populations, conducting field tests, and 
assessing the feasibility of conducting a well-designed interventions 
study. Results from this stage of research may be used to inform the 
design of a study to test the efficacy of an intervention.
    Intervention efficacy means the stage of research during which a 
project evaluates and tests whether an intervention is feasible, 
practical, and has the potential to yield positive outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities. Efficacy research may assess the 
strength of the relationships between an intervention and outcomes, and 
may identify factors or individual characteristics that affect the 
relationship between the intervention and outcomes. Efficacy research 
can inform decisions about whether there is sufficient evidence to 
support ``scaling-up'' an intervention to other sites and contexts. 
This stage of research can include assessing the training needed for 
wide-scale implementation of the intervention, and approaches to 
evaluation of the intervention in real world applications.
    Scale-up evaluation means the stage of research during which a 
project analyzes whether an intervention is effective in producing 
improved outcomes for individuals with disabilities when implemented in 
a real-world setting. During this stage of research, a project tests 
the outcomes of an evidence-based intervention in different settings. 
It examines the challenges to successful replication of the 
intervention, and the circumstances and activities that contribute to 
successful adoption of the intervention in real-world settings. This 
stage of research may also include well-designed studies of an 
intervention that has been widely adopted in practice, but that lacks a 
sufficient evidence-base to demonstrate its effectiveness.

Final Priorities and Definitions

    We will announce the final priorities and definitions in a notice 
in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priorities and 
definitions after considering responses to this document and other 
information available to the Department. This document does not 
preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, 
definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable 
rulemaking requirements.

    Note: This document does not solicit applications. In any year 
in which we choose to use one or more of these priorities and 
definitions, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal 
Register.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether 
this regulatory action is ``significant'' and, therefore, subject to 
the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866 defines a ``significant regulatory action'' as an action likely 
to result in a rule that may--
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, 
or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, 
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local or 
tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to 
as an ``economically significant'' rule);
    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the 
Executive order.
    This proposed regulatory action is not a significant regulatory 
action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 
12866.
    We have also reviewed this proposed regulatory action under 
Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the 
principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review 
established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, 
Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency--
    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only on a reasoned determination 
that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits 
and costs are difficult to quantify);
    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, 
consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into 
account--among other things and to the extent practicable--the costs of 
cumulative regulations;
    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select 
those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential 
economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other 
advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);
    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather 
than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must 
adopt; and
    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct 
regulation, including economic incentives--such as user fees or 
marketable permits--to encourage the desired behavior, or provide 
information that enables the public to make choices.
    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency ``to use the best 
available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future 
benefits and costs as accurately as possible.'' The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these 
techniques may include ``identifying changing future compliance costs 
that might result from technological innovation or anticipated 
behavioral changes.''
    We are issuing these proposed priorities and definitions only on a 
reasoned determination that their benefits would justify their costs. 
In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those 
approaches that maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis that 
follows, the Department believes that this regulatory action is 
consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not 
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the 
exercise of their governmental functions.
    In accordance with both Executive orders, the Department has 
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and 
qualitative, of this regulatory action. The potential costs are those 
resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as 
necessary for administering the Department's programs and activities.
    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. These proposed 
priorities and definitions would generate new

[[Page 5337]]

knowledge through research and development. Another benefit of these 
proposed priorities and definitions is that the establishment of new 
DRRPs would improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. The new 
DRRPs would generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new 
information that would improve outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities.
    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 compact disc) on request to the program contact person 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Electronic Access to This Document: 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 via the Federal Digital System 
at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site 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). To use PDF 
you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the 
site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at: 
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Dated: January 18, 2013.
Michael Yudin,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 2013-01418 Filed 1-24-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P