[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 141 (Wednesday, July 23, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 42680-42683]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-17370]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter III

[Docket ID ED-2014-OSERS-0068]


Final Priority; Rehabilitation Training: Rehabilitation Long-Term 
Training Program--Rehabilitation Specialty Areas

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

ACTION: Final priority.

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

    [CFDA Numbers: 84.129C, E, F, H, J, P, Q, R, and W.]

SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the Rehabilitation 
Training: Rehabilitation Long-Term Training program. The Assistant 
Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 
2014 and later years in order to fund any of the rehabilitation 
specialty areas listed in this notice. The specific rehabilitation 
specialty areas to be funded in a given year will be listed in a notice 
inviting applications. This priority is designed to ensure that the 
Department funds high-quality rehabilitation programs in the following 
nine rehabilitation specialty areas of national need: Rehabilitation 
Administration (84.129C); Rehabilitation Technology (84.129E); 
Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment (84.129F); Rehabilitation of 
Individuals Who Are Mentally Ill (84.129H); Rehabilitation Psychology 
(84.129J); Rehabilitation of Individuals Who are Blind or Have Vision 
Impairments (84.129P); Rehabilitation of Individuals Who are Deaf or 
Hard of Hearing (84.129Q); Job Development and Job Placement Services 
(84.129R); and Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (84.129W). 
These programs must meet rigorous standards in order to provide 
rehabilitation professionals the training and qualifications necessary 
to meet the current challenges facing State vocational rehabilitation 
(VR) agencies and related agencies and assist individuals with 
disabilities in achieving high-quality employment outcomes.

DATES: Effective Date: This priority is effective August 22, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: RoseAnn Ashby, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., room 5055, Potomac Center Plaza 
(PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2800. Telephone: (202) 245-7258 or by 
email: roseann.ashby@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: Purpose of Program: The Rehabilitation Long-
Term Training program provides financial assistance for projects that 
provide--
    (1) Basic or advanced training leading to an academic degree in 
areas of personnel shortages in rehabilitation as identified by the 
Secretary;
    (2) A specified series of courses or programs of study leading to 
the award of a certificate in areas of personnel shortages in 
rehabilitation as identified by the Secretary; and
    (3) Support for medical residents enrolled in residency training 
programs in the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 772(b).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR parts 385 and 386.
    We published a notice of proposed priority for this competition in 
the Federal Register on May 13, 2014 (79 FR 27236). That notice 
contained background information and our reasons for proposing this 
particular priority.
    There are no differences between the proposed priority and this 
final priority.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of 
proposed priority, 24 parties submitted comments on the proposed 
priority.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
of any changes in the priority since publication of the notice of 
proposed priority follows.
    Comment: The overwhelming majority of commenters were supportive of 
the priority. They pointed out that it is important to have 
rehabilitation professionals trained in meeting the needs of 
individuals with a variety of disabilities. In particular, a number of 
commenters discussed the value that rehabilitation professionals 
trained in vocational evaluation can add to the field of 
rehabilitation. Professionals trained in vocational evaluation have 
particular expertise in assisting individuals with disabilities in 
making employment and career choices consistent with their unique 
abilities, thereby helping to ensure that individuals with disabilities 
achieve their employment goals.
    Discussion: We appreciate the commenters' support for this 
priority.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters expressed concern regarding the requirement 
for scholars to participate in an internship in a State VR agency as a 
requirement for program completion. They stated that internships may 
not be available in a State VR agency, particularly for those pursuing 
a rehabilitation program for serving individuals who are deaf or hard 
of hearing. Commenters stated that some State VR agencies may not have 
individuals qualified to supervise such internships, whereas other 
related agencies in the community may be able to provide internship 
opportunities that offer qualified supervisors and that would 
ultimately be more beneficial for scholars.
    Discussion: We recognize that there may be some instances in which 
an institution of higher education receiving funds under this priority 
will need to develop internships in agencies other than the State VR 
agency. For this reason, paragraph (c)(5) of the priority provides an 
exception to this requirement in the event that a State VR agency 
cannot provide an internship in a scholar's field of study or if 
applicants demonstrate that it is otherwise not feasible for all 
students to complete an internship in a State VR agency. For example, 
if an applicant demonstrates that it is not feasible to provide the 
scholar an internship in a State VR agency because there are no staff 
able to supervise the individual or because the distance that the 
scholar would have to travel to the State VR agency is too great, then 
the scholar could be provided an internship in a related agency as 
defined in 34 CFR 386.4.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters discussed the importance of coordination 
among professional associations, long-term training programs, and State 
VR agencies, specifically in the field of vocational

[[Page 42681]]

evaluation. They indicated that collaboration would provide robust 
discussions, opportunities both for student training and for continuing 
education of professional evaluators, connections with associations 
that offer certifications, consultative support to long-term training 
programs and State VR agencies, and the identification of employment 
opportunities for rehabilitation professionals.
    Discussion: We agree with these commenters regarding the importance 
of collaboration among professional associations, long-term training 
programs, and State VR agencies. Nothing in this priority would prevent 
an applicant from developing collaborations with professional 
associations. However, we do not believe that it is necessary to make 
this a requirement.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter expressed concern about use of the term 
``rehabilitation specialty'' to describe the nine specific emphases in 
this priority. This commenter felt the term ``rehabilitation 
specialty'' when referring to professional areas of focus other than VR 
counseling demeans these professions.
    Discussion: This priority describes training programs for a number 
of rehabilitation professionals. The use of the term ``rehabilitation 
specialty'' is simply a convenient and easily understood term to 
distinguish between the general VR counselor training programs the 
Department funds and the programs described in this priority that train 
professionals who work with certain disability populations or who have 
skills in specific aspects of rehabilitation.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter asked that the priority specifically mention 
individuals who are deaf-blind or late-deafened in the discussion of 
rehabilitation of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The 
commenter emphasized that individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, 
late-deafened, and deaf-blind are four discrete populations with 
differing cultural, psychosocial, communication, and technology needs.
    Discussion: We recognize that the four populations of individuals 
with disabilities mentioned by the commenter have varying needs and 
that having coursework to train rehabilitation professionals to address 
these needs would be appropriate. The specialty area includes all four 
of these populations and nothing in this priority would prevent an 
applicant from proposing coursework that would address the 
rehabilitation needs of all four populations.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters discussed the need for individuals 
trained as vocational evaluators to learn how to assess the strengths 
of individuals who are deaf. They were concerned that individuals 
graduating with a degree in vocational evaluation often do not get the 
training they need to accurately perform these assessments. They 
encouraged coursework to address this need.
    Discussion: We agree that assessing the vocational strengths and 
service needs of individuals who are deaf requires special training. 
Nothing in this priority would prevent an applicant from proposing 
vocational evaluation coursework to teach the skills needed to 
accurately assess the vocational strengths and service needs of 
individuals who are deaf. Such coursework would fit squarely within the 
training programs the priority is designed to support. We expect that 
the peer review process will reward applicants that address this issue.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Several commenters suggested that, as tuition and other 
costs increase, grants funded under this priority should receive more 
funding. These commenters indicated that institutions of higher 
education may be discouraged from applying if grants are not funded at 
higher level.
    Discussion: We recognize that higher education is becoming more 
expensive for students every year. As a result, scholarship support may 
be available to fewer students or cover a smaller proportion of their 
overall tuition and fees. However, we do not typically set out funding 
levels in our priorities. The Department retains the authority to 
increase maximum award sizes in future years under this program in a 
notice inviting applications, if we deem it appropriate.
    Changes: None.

Final Priority

Rehabilitation Specialty Areas

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services announces a priority to fund programs leading to a master's 
degree or certificate in one of nine specialty areas: (1) 
Rehabilitation Administration; (2) Rehabilitation Technology; (3) 
Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment; (4) Rehabilitation of 
Individuals Who Are Mentally Ill; (5) Rehabilitation Psychology; (6) 
Specialized Personnel for Rehabilitation of Individuals Who Are Blind 
or Have Vision Impairments; (7) Rehabilitation of Individuals Who Are 
Deaf or Hard of Hearing; (8) Job Development and Job Placement 
Services; and (9) Comprehensive System of Personnel Development. The 
goal of this priority is to increase the skills of scholars in these 
rehabilitation specialty areas so that, upon successful completion of 
their master's degree or certificate programs, they are prepared to 
effectively meet the needs and demands of consumers with disabilities.
    Under this priority, applicants must:
    (a) Provide data on the current and projected employment needs and 
personnel shortages in the specialty area in State VR agencies and 
other related agencies as defined in 34 CFR 386.4 in their local area, 
region, and State, and describe how the proposed program will address 
those employment needs and personnel shortages.
    (b) Describe how the proposed program will provide rehabilitation 
professionals with the skills and knowledge that will help ensure that 
the individuals with disabilities whom they serve can meet current 
demands and emerging trends in the labor market, including how:
    (1) The curriculum provides a breadth of knowledge, experience, and 
rigor that will adequately prepare scholars to meet the employment 
needs and goals of VR consumers and aligns with evidence-based and 
competency-based practices in the rehabilitation specialty area;
    (2) The curriculum prepares scholars to meet all applicable 
certification standards;
    (3) The curriculum addresses new or emerging consumer needs or 
trends at the national, State, and regional levels in the 
rehabilitation specialty area;
    (4) The curriculum teaches scholars to address the needs of 
individuals with disabilities who are from diverse cultural 
backgrounds;
    (5) The curriculum trains scholars to assess the assistive 
technology needs of consumers, identify the most appropriate assistive 
technology services and devices for assisting consumers to obtain and 
retain employment, and train consumers to use such technology;
    (6) The curriculum teaches scholars to work with employers 
effectively in today's economy, including by teaching strategies for 
developing relationships with employers in their State and local areas, 
identifying employer needs and skill demands, making initial employer 
contacts, presenting job-ready clients to potential employers, and 
conducting follow-up with employers; and
    (7) The latest technology is incorporated into the methods of

[[Page 42682]]

instruction (e.g., the use of distance education to reach scholars who 
live far from the university and the use of technology to acquire labor 
market information).
    (c) Describe their methods to:
    (1) Recruit highly capable prospective scholars who have the 
potential to successfully complete the academic program, all required 
practicum and internship experiences, and the required service 
obligation;
    (2) Educate potential scholars about the terms and conditions of 
the service obligation under 34 CFR 386.4, 386.34, and 386.40 through 
386.43 so that they will be fully informed before accepting a 
scholarship;
    (3) Maintain a system that ensures that scholars sign a payback 
agreement and an exit form when they exit the program, regardless of 
whether they drop out, are removed, or successfully complete the 
program;
    (4) Provide academic support and counseling to scholars throughout 
the course of the academic program to ensure successful completion;
    (5) Ensure that all scholars complete an internship in a State VR 
agency or a related agency as a requirement for completion of a program 
leading to a master's degree. The internship must be in a State VR 
agency unless the VR agency does not directly perform work related to 
the scholar's course of study or an applicant can provide sufficient 
justification that it is not feasible for all students receiving 
scholarships to complete an internship in a State VR agency. In such 
cases, the applicant may require scholars to complete an internship in 
a related agency, as defined in 34 CFR 386.4. Circumstances that would 
constitute sufficient justification may include, but are not limited 
to, a lack of capacity at the State VR agency to provide adequate 
supervision of scholars during their internship experience and the 
physical distance between scholars and the nearest office of the State 
VR agency (e.g., for scholars enrolled in distance-learning programs or 
at rural institutions). Applicants should include a written 
justification in the application or provide it to RSA for review and 
approval by the appropriate RSA Project Officer no later than 30 days 
prior to a scholar beginning an internship in a related agency. For 
applicants proposing a certificate program, the requirement for an 
internship in a State VR agency or a related agency is waived unless 
the certificate program has an internship requirement.
    (6) Provide career counseling, including informing scholars of 
professional contacts and networks, job leads, and other necessary 
resources and information to support scholars in successfully obtaining 
and retaining qualifying employment;
    (7) Maintain regular contact with scholars upon successful program 
completion to ensure that they have support during their search for 
qualifying employment as well as support during the initial months of 
their employment (e.g., by matching scholars with mentors in the 
field);
    (8) Maintain regular communication with scholars after program exit 
to ensure that their contact information is current and that 
documentation of employment is accurate and meets the regulatory 
requirements for qualifying employment; and
    (9) Maintain accurate information on, while safeguarding the 
privacy of, current and former scholars from the time they are enrolled 
in the program until they successfully meet their service obligation.
    (d) Describe a plan for developing and maintaining partnerships 
with State VR agencies and community-based rehabilitation service 
providers that includes:
    (1) Coordination between the grantee and the State VR agencies and 
community-based rehabilitation service providers that will promote 
qualifying employment opportunities for scholars and formalized on-
boarding and induction experiences for new hires;
    (2) Formal opportunities for scholars to obtain work experiences 
through internships, practicum agreements, job shadowing, and mentoring 
opportunities; and
    (3) When applicable, a scholar internship assessment tool that is 
developed to ensure a consistent approach to the evaluation of scholars 
in a particular program. The tool should reflect the specific 
responsibilities of the scholar during the internship. The grantee and 
worksite supervisor are encouraged to work together as they see fit to 
develop the assessment tool. Supervisors at the internship site will 
complete the assessment detailing the scholar's strengths and areas for 
improvement that must be addressed and provide the results of the 
assessment to the grantee. The grantee should ensure that (i) scholars 
are provided with a copy of the assessment and all relevant rubrics 
prior to beginning their internship, (ii) supervisors have sufficient 
technical support to accurately complete the assessment, and (iii) 
scholars receive a copy of the results of the assessment within 90 days 
of the end of their internship.
    (e) Describe how scholars will be evaluated throughout the entire 
program to ensure that they are proficient in meeting the needs and 
demands of today's consumers and employers, including the steps that 
will be taken to provide assistance to a scholar who is not meeting 
academic standards or who is performing poorly in a practicum or 
internship setting.
    (f) Describe how the program will be evaluated. Such a description 
must include:
    (1) How the program will determine its effect over a period of time 
on filling vacancies in the State VR agency with qualified 
rehabilitation professionals capable of providing quality services to 
consumers;
    (2) How input from State VR agencies and community-based 
rehabilitation service providers will be included in the evaluation;
    (3) How feedback from consumers of VR services and employers 
(including the assessments described in paragraph (d)(3)) will be 
included in the evaluation;
    (4) How data from other sources, such as those from the Department 
on the State VR program, will be included in the evaluation; and
    (5) How the data and results from the evaluation will be used to 
make necessary adjustments and improvements to the program.

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)).
    This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional 
priorities,

[[Page 42683]]

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 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 final 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 final 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 upon 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 this final priority only on a reasoned determination 
that its benefits justify its 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 does 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 Rehabilitation Long-Term Training program have been 
well established over the years through the successful completion of 
similar projects. Grants to provide funding for scholars to acquire 
master's degrees and certificates in the rehabilitation specialty areas 
listed in this notice are needed to ensure that State VR agencies and 
related agencies have a supply of qualified rehabilitation 
professionals with the skills to help individuals with disabilities to 
achieve employment in today's economy.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the 
objectives of the Executive order is to foster an intergovernmental 
partnership and a strengthened federalism. The Executive order relies 
on processes developed by State and local governments for coordination 
and review of proposed Federal financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or compact disc) by contacting the Grants and Contracts 
Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., 
room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. 
If you use a TDD or a TTY, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    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: July 18, 2014.
Melody Musgrove,
Director, Office for Special Education Programs.
[FR Doc. 2014-17370 Filed 7-22-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P