National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)-Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program-Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)-Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, 14585-14588 [2010-6783]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 58 / Friday, March 26, 2010 / Notices emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with NOTICES by RSA to participate in these in-depth case studies to determine factors or variables that are related to high performance as defined for this project. The factors or variables may be decisions or activities that are under the control of the State VR agency, or they may be characteristics of the external State environment. Information from the case study analysis will be used in the design of an intervention model by the successful grantee that will serve as the basis for the demonstration projects to be carried out and evaluated by the grantee under this priority. Proposed Priority The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority under the Special Demonstration Programs to fund a project to identify, develop, and implement model demonstration projects to improve outcomes for individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) who are served by State vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies. Under this priority, the project must be designed to contribute to the following outcomes: • Identify through in-depth case study of selected State VR agencies factors that account for the relatively better qualitative and quantitative results of these agencies in achieving employment outcomes at or above substantial gainful activity (SGA) for SSDI beneficiaries. • Determine whether there are a sufficient number of factors related to the better employment outcome results that are within the control of the State VR agency, and if so, develop an intervention model incorporating those factors that can be replicated in other State VR agencies and that can be evaluated in terms of the model’s impact after implementation. • Implement and evaluate the intervention model in at least three State VR agencies, selected by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) based on information provided by the grantee, that are willing to implement the model. One criterion for selecting these State VR agencies is that SSDI beneficiaries whom they serve have an employment outcome rate at or below the rate for other State VR agencies. • If the model demonstration projects show an improved employment rate for SSDI beneficiaries, complete the development of the intervention model incorporating information acquired through the model demonstration projects, recommend any strategies needed for implementation of the model by other State VR agencies, and VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:23 Mar 25, 2010 Jkt 220001 disseminate the findings of this demonstration project to State VR agencies. 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)). Final Priority We will announce the final priority in a notice in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priority after considering responses to this notice and other information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements. Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. Executive Order 12866: This notice has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential costs and benefits of this proposed regulatory action. The potential costs associated with this proposed regulatory action are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and efficiently. In assessing the potential costs and benefits—both quantitative and qualitative—of this proposed regulatory action, we have determined that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs. PO 00000 Frm 00031 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 14585 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 computer diskette) 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, call the FRS, toll free, at 1–800–877–8339. Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in the text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/ fedregister. To use PDF you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. Note: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/ index.html. Dated: March 23, 2010. Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2010–6787 Filed 3–25–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)— Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program— Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)—Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education. ACTION: Notice of proposed priority. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133B–6. E:\FR\FM\26MRN1.SGM 26MRN1 emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with NOTICES 14586 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 58 / Friday, March 26, 2010 / Notices SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority for the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by NIDRR. Specifically, this notice proposes a priority for an RRTC. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2010 and later years. We take this action to focus research attention on areas of national need. We intend this priority to improve rehabilitation services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities. DATES: We must receive your comments on or before April 26, 2010. ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this notice to Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 6029, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202–2700. If you prefer to send your comments by e-mail, use the following address: donna.nangle@ed.gov. You must include the term ‘‘Proposed Priority for an RRTC on Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired’’ in the subject line of your electronic message. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 245– 7462 or by e-mail: donna.nangle@ed.gov. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1–800–877–8339. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of proposed priority is in concert with NIDRR’s Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005–2009 (Plan). The Plan, which was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 (71 FR 8165), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/ about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/ policy.html. Through the implementation of the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) foster an exchange of expertise, information, and training to facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the unique needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) determine best strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate findings. Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding this notice. VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:23 Mar 25, 2010 Jkt 220001 We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of reducing regulatory burden that might result from this proposed priority. Please let us know of any further ways we could reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program. During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public comments about this notice in room 6029, 550 12th Street, SW., PCP, Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal holidays. Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 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 selfsufficiency 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. of 1973, as amended, through advanced research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities in general problem areas, as specified by NIDRR. Such activities are designed to benefit rehabilitation service providers, individuals with disabilities, and the family members or other authorized representatives of individuals with disabilities. In addition, NIDRR intends to require all RRTC applicants to meet the requirements of the General Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) Requirements priority that it published in a notice of final priorities in the Federal Register on February 1, 2008 (72 FR 6132). Additional information on the RRTC program can be found at: http:// www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/resprogram.html#RRTC. Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2). Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350. Proposed Priority This notice contains one proposed priority. Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who are Blind or Visually Impaired Background Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) The purpose of the RRTC program is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Statutory and Regulatory Requirements of RRTCs RRTCs must— • Carry out coordinated advanced programs of rehabilitation research; • Provide training, including graduate, pre-service, and in-service training, to help rehabilitation personnel more effectively provide rehabilitation services to individuals with disabilities; • Provide technical assistance to individuals with disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested parties; • Demonstrate in their applications how they will address, in whole or in part, the needs of individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds; • Disseminate informational materials to individuals with disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested parties; and • Serve as centers of national excellence in rehabilitation research for individuals with disabilities, their representatives, providers, and other interested parties. Background More than 21 million noninstitutionalized adults, age 18 and above, report trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contacts (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). Of working-age (16–64 years) individuals who report blindness or serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses, 38.9 percent are employed (American Foundation for the Blind, 2009). In contrast, 71.2 percent of individuals in this age range with no disabling condition are employed (U.S. Department of Labor, 2009). E:\FR\FM\26MRN1.SGM 26MRN1 emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 58 / Friday, March 26, 2010 / Notices Previous research, some of which has been conducted by NIDRR-funded centers on blindness and low vision, has identified a number of barriers to, and facilitators of, employment for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Facilitators include, but are not limited to, postsecondary education or training, braille literacy, inclusive corporate cultures, and some characteristics of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services (CapellaMcDonall, 2005; Golub, 2006; Jernigan Institute, 2009; Kirchner & Smith, 2005). Barriers include negative employer attitudes about blindness and work disincentives experienced by Social Security beneficiaries. These disincentives include reduced benefits and potential ineligibility for health care coverage for those who become employed and whose income exceeds program income limits (Crudden, Sansing & Butler, 2005; Stapleton, O’Day, Livermore, & Imparato, 2006). There is little empirical research that applies the results of this research on barriers and facilitators to the development and testing of specific practices, services, and interventions to improve employment outcomes in either the general population of individuals who are blind or who have visual impairments, or in subpopulations of individuals from this population who are at even greater risk for poor employment outcomes. Such populations include, but are not limited to, individuals who have more severe vision loss or who have multiple disabilities (National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, 2005; Shaw, Gold & Wolffe, 2007). Moreover, although there are a variety of services, practices, and interventions that are currently being used to improve employment outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, there is little research that supports the effectiveness and use of these interventions and practices. Some of these interventions and practices directly relate to improving employment outcomes. These include the use of peer mentoring as well as collaborations between VR agencies and consumer organizations that can provide access to mentors and input regarding VR services and counselor training (Drew & Alan, 2006; Iowa Department for the Blind, 2009; National Federation of the Blind, 2009). Other practices and interventions, such as training to promote positive adjustment to an acquired disability, and orientation/ mobility training, are intended to have more general effects, but appear to affect occupational success as well (Drew & Alan, 2004; Omvig, 2005). Research is VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:23 Mar 25, 2010 Jkt 220001 necessary to determine the effectiveness of these practices and to identify and validate other promising practices that improve employment outcomes for this population. References American Foundation for the Blind. (2009). Interpreting Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data. See http:// www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=15& SubTopicID=177. Capella-McDonnall, M.E. (2005). Predictors of competitive employment for blind and visually impaired consumers of vocational rehabilitation services. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99, 303–315. Crudden, A., Sansing, W., & Butler, S. (2005). Overcoming barriers to employment: Strategies of rehabilitation providers. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99, 325–335. Drew, D.W., & Alan, G.M. (Eds). (2004). Contemporary issues in orientation and mobility. Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, Monograph No. 29. Washington, DC: The George Washington University, Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program. Drew, D.W., & Alan, G.M (Eds.). (2006). Consumer organizations: Important resources for vocational rehabilitation agencies. Institute on Rehabilitation Issues Monograph No. 31. Washington, DC: The George Washington University, Center for Rehabilitation Counseling Research and Education. Golub, D.B. (2006). A model of successful work experience for employees who are visually impaired: The results of a study. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 100, 715–725. Iowa Department for the Blind. (2009). Pathfinders: Changing Lives together. See http://www.blind.state.ia.us/living/ pathfinders. Jernigan Institute. (2009). The Braille literacy crisis in America: Facing the truth, reversing the trend, empowering the blind. National Federation of the Blind. See http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Braille_ Initiative.asp. Kirchner, C, & Smith, B. (2005). Transition to what?: Education and employment outcomes for visually impaired youths after high school. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99, 499–503. National Federation of the Blind. (2009). National Center for Mentoring Excellence: A program of the National Federation of the Blind. See http:// www.nfb.org/nfb/NCME_ Brochure1.asp?SnID=1447563890. National Longitudinal Transition Study-2. (2005). Changes over time in the early post school outcomes of youth with disabilities. See http://www.nlts2.org/ reports/2005_06/. Omvig, J.H. (2005). Freedom for the blind: The secret is empowerment. Baltimore, MD: National Federation of the Blind. Shaw, A., Gold, E., & Wolffe, K. (2007). Employment-related experiences of youths who are visually impaired: How PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 14587 are these youths faring? Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 101, 7–21. Stapleton, D.C., O’Day, B.L., Livermore, G.A., & Imparato, A.J. (2006). Dismantling the poverty trap: Disability policy for the twenty-first century. The Milbank Quarterly, 84, 701–732. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Summary health statistics for the U.S. population: National Health Interview Survey, 2006. (DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 2008– 1564). Hyattsville, MD. Proposed Priority The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services proposes a priority for a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who are Blind or Visually Impaired. This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to improving competitive employment outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, consistent with the individual’s informed choice and abilities (see section 100(a)(2)(B) of Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended). For the purposes of this priority, this population is defined as individuals who have ‘‘central visual acuity of 20/ 200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for purposes of this paragraph as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less’’ (42 U.S.C. 416(i)(1)(B)). Under this priority, the RRTC must contribute to the following outcomes: (a) Evidence-based interventions and practices designed to facilitate competitive employment outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by developing and evaluating new interventions and practices, evaluating practices currently in use, or by conducting both of these types of research. (b) New knowledge about employment interventions and practices for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and who are also at greater risk for poor employment outcomes due to other individual characteristics (e.g., individuals with more severe vision loss or individuals with multiple disabilities). The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by conducting research with at least one at-risk group (as described earlier in this paragraph) to: develop and evaluate new interventions or practices, evaluate practices currently being used with members of the at-risk group, or by conducting both of these E:\FR\FM\26MRN1.SGM 26MRN1 14588 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 58 / Friday, March 26, 2010 / Notices emcdonald on DSK2BSOYB1PROD with NOTICES types of research. Applicants must identify the specific at-risk group or groups they propose to study, provide evidence that the selected population or populations are, in fact, at greater risk for poor employment outcomes, and explain how the proposed interventions and practices are expected to address the needs of the population or populations. (c) Increased incorporation of research findings into practice and policy. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by: (1) Collaborating with providers of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, employer groups, and stakeholders (e.g., individuals who are blind or visually impaired or consumer groups) in conducting the work of the RRTC; and (2) Conducting training and dissemination activities to facilitate the utilization of research findings in employment and VR settings. (d) In addition, through coordination with the NIDRR Project Officer, this RRTC must collaborate with: (1) Appropriate NIDRR-funded grantees, including knowledge translation grantees; and (2) Relevant Office of Special Education Programs and Rehabilitation Services Administration grantees. 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)). Final Priority We will announce the final priority in a notice in the Federal Register. We will determine the final priority after VerDate Nov<24>2008 15:23 Mar 25, 2010 Jkt 220001 considering responses to this notice and other information available to the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements. Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through a notice in the Federal Register. Executive Order 12866: This notice has been reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have assessed the potential costs and benefits of this proposed regulatory action. The potential costs associated with this proposed regulatory action are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and efficiently. In assessing the potential costs and benefits—both quantitative and qualitative—of this proposed regulatory action, we have determined that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs. Discussion of Costs and Benefits The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program have been well established over the years in that similar projects have been completed successfully. This proposed priority will generate new knowledge and technologies through research, development, dissemination, utilization, and technical assistance projects. Another benefit of this proposed priority is that the establishment of a new RRTC will support and will improve the lives of individuals with disabilities. The new RRTC will generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new information that will improve the options for individuals with disabilities to obtain, retain, and advance in employment. Intergovernmental Review: This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) 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, call the FRS, toll free, at 1–800–877–8339. Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as well as PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/ fedregister. To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. Note: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/ index.html. Dated: March 23, 2010. Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2010–6783 Filed 3–25–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Proposed Agency Information Collection U.S. Department of Energy. Notice and request for OMB review and comment. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Department of Energy (DOE) invites public comment on a proposed emergency collection of information that DOE is developing to collect data on the status of activities, project progress, jobs created and retained, spend rates and performance metrics under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. DATES: Comments regarding this collection must be received on or before April 9, 2010. If you anticipate difficulty in submitting comments within that period, contact the person listed in ADDRESSES as soon as possible. ADDRESSES: Written comments may be sent to: E:\FR\FM\26MRN1.SGM 26MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 58 (Friday, March 26, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 14585-14588]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-6783]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION


National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR)--Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 
Program--Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)--
Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed priority.

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

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133B-6.


[[Page 14586]]


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

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before April 26, 2010.

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle. Telephone: (202) 245-
7462 or by e-mail: donna.nangle@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of proposed priority is in 
concert with NIDRR's Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). The 
Plan, which was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 
(71 FR 8165), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: 
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html.
    Through the implementation of the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: (1) Improve 
the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) 
foster an exchange of expertise, information, and training to 
facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the unique 
needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) determine best 
strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for 
underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify 
mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate 
findings.
    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
this notice.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from this proposed 
priority. Please let us know of any further ways we could reduce 
potential costs or increase potential benefits while preserving the 
effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about this notice in room 6029, 550 12th Street, SW., PCP, 
Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., 
Washington, DC time, Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 
holidays.
    Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the 
Rulemaking Record: On request we will provide an appropriate 
accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability who 
needs assistance to review the comments or other documents in the 
public rulemaking record for this notice. If you want to schedule an 
appointment for this type of accommodation or auxiliary aid, please 
contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers 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.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

Proposed Priority

    This notice contains one proposed priority.

Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who are Blind or Visually 
Impaired

Background

Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs)
    The purpose of the RRTC program is to improve the effectiveness of 
services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 
through advanced research, training, technical assistance, and 
dissemination activities in general problem areas, as specified by 
NIDRR. Such activities are designed to benefit rehabilitation service 
providers, individuals with disabilities, and the family members or 
other authorized representatives of individuals with disabilities. In 
addition, NIDRR intends to require all RRTC applicants to meet the 
requirements of the General Rehabilitation Research and Training 
Centers (RRTC) Requirements priority that it published in a notice of 
final priorities in the Federal Register on February 1, 2008 (72 FR 
6132). Additional information on the RRTC program can be found at: 
http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#RRTC.

Statutory and Regulatory Requirements of RRTCs

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

Center on Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually 
Impaired

Background

    More than 21 million non-institutionalized adults, age 18 and 
above, report trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contacts 
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). Of working-age 
(16-64 years) individuals who report blindness or serious difficulty 
seeing even when wearing glasses, 38.9 percent are employed (American 
Foundation for the Blind, 2009). In contrast, 71.2 percent of 
individuals in this age range with no disabling condition are employed 
(U.S. Department of Labor, 2009).

[[Page 14587]]

    Previous research, some of which has been conducted by NIDRR-funded 
centers on blindness and low vision, has identified a number of 
barriers to, and facilitators of, employment for individuals who are 
blind or visually impaired. Facilitators include, but are not limited 
to, postsecondary education or training, braille literacy, inclusive 
corporate cultures, and some characteristics of vocational 
rehabilitation (VR) services (Capella-McDonall, 2005; Golub, 2006; 
Jernigan Institute, 2009; Kirchner & Smith, 2005). Barriers include 
negative employer attitudes about blindness and work disincentives 
experienced by Social Security beneficiaries. These disincentives 
include reduced benefits and potential ineligibility for health care 
coverage for those who become employed and whose income exceeds program 
income limits (Crudden, Sansing & Butler, 2005; Stapleton, O'Day, 
Livermore, & Imparato, 2006).
    There is little empirical research that applies the results of this 
research on barriers and facilitators to the development and testing of 
specific practices, services, and interventions to improve employment 
outcomes in either the general population of individuals who are blind 
or who have visual impairments, or in subpopulations of individuals 
from this population who are at even greater risk for poor employment 
outcomes. Such populations include, but are not limited to, individuals 
who have more severe vision loss or who have multiple disabilities 
(National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, 2005; Shaw, Gold & Wolffe, 
2007).
    Moreover, although there are a variety of services, practices, and 
interventions that are currently being used to improve employment 
outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, there is 
little research that supports the effectiveness and use of these 
interventions and practices. Some of these interventions and practices 
directly relate to improving employment outcomes. These include the use 
of peer mentoring as well as collaborations between VR agencies and 
consumer organizations that can provide access to mentors and input 
regarding VR services and counselor training (Drew & Alan, 2006; Iowa 
Department for the Blind, 2009; National Federation of the Blind, 
2009). Other practices and interventions, such as training to promote 
positive adjustment to an acquired disability, and orientation/mobility 
training, are intended to have more general effects, but appear to 
affect occupational success as well (Drew & Alan, 2004; Omvig, 2005). 
Research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of these practices 
and to identify and validate other promising practices that improve 
employment outcomes for this population.

References

American Foundation for the Blind. (2009). Interpreting Bureau of 
Labor Statistics employment data. See http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=15&SubTopicID=177.
Capella-McDonnall, M.E. (2005). Predictors of competitive employment 
for blind and visually impaired consumers of vocational 
rehabilitation services. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 
99, 303-315.
Crudden, A., Sansing, W., & Butler, S. (2005). Overcoming barriers 
to employment: Strategies of rehabilitation providers. Journal of 
Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99, 325-335.
Drew, D.W., & Alan, G.M. (Eds). (2004). Contemporary issues in 
orientation and mobility. Institute on Rehabilitation Issues, 
Monograph No. 29. Washington, DC: The George Washington University, 
Rehabilitation Continuing Education Program.
Drew, D.W., & Alan, G.M (Eds.). (2006). Consumer organizations: 
Important resources for vocational rehabilitation agencies. 
Institute on Rehabilitation Issues Monograph No. 31. Washington, DC: 
The George Washington University, Center for Rehabilitation 
Counseling Research and Education.
Golub, D.B. (2006). A model of successful work experience for 
employees who are visually impaired: The results of a study. Journal 
of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 100, 715-725.
Iowa Department for the Blind. (2009). Pathfinders: Changing Lives 
together. See http://www.blind.state.ia.us/living/pathfinders.
Jernigan Institute. (2009). The Braille literacy crisis in America: 
Facing the truth, reversing the trend, empowering the blind. 
National Federation of the Blind. See http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Braille_Initiative.asp.
Kirchner, C, & Smith, B. (2005). Transition to what?: Education and 
employment outcomes for visually impaired youths after high school. 
Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99, 499-503.
National Federation of the Blind. (2009). National Center for 
Mentoring Excellence: A program of the National Federation of the 
Blind. See http://www.nfb.org/nfb/NCME_Brochure1.asp?SnID=1447563890.
National Longitudinal Transition Study-2. (2005). Changes over time 
in the early post school outcomes of youth with disabilities. See 
http://www.nlts2.org/reports/2005_06/.
Omvig, J.H. (2005). Freedom for the blind: The secret is 
empowerment. Baltimore, MD: National Federation of the Blind.
Shaw, A., Gold, E., & Wolffe, K. (2007). Employment-related 
experiences of youths who are visually impaired: How are these 
youths faring? Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 101, 7-21.
Stapleton, D.C., O'Day, B.L., Livermore, G.A., & Imparato, A.J. 
(2006). Dismantling the poverty trap: Disability policy for the 
twenty-first century. The Milbank Quarterly, 84, 701-732.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Summary health 
statistics for the U.S. population: National Health Interview 
Survey, 2006. (DHHS Publication No. (PHS) 2008-1564). Hyattsville, 
MD.

Proposed Priority

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for a Rehabilitation Research and Training 
Center (RRTC) on Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who are Blind or 
Visually Impaired. This RRTC must conduct research that contributes to 
improving competitive employment outcomes for individuals who are blind 
or visually impaired, consistent with the individual's informed choice 
and abilities (see section 100(a)(2)(B) of Title I of the 
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended). For the purposes of this 
priority, this population is defined as individuals who have ``central 
visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a 
correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the 
fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field 
subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for 
purposes of this paragraph as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 
or less'' (42 U.S.C. 416(i)(1)(B)). Under this priority, the RRTC must 
contribute to the following outcomes:
    (a) Evidence-based interventions and practices designed to 
facilitate competitive employment outcomes for individuals who are 
blind or visually impaired. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by 
developing and evaluating new interventions and practices, evaluating 
practices currently in use, or by conducting both of these types of 
research.
    (b) New knowledge about employment interventions and practices for 
individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and who are also at 
greater risk for poor employment outcomes due to other individual 
characteristics (e.g., individuals with more severe vision loss or 
individuals with multiple disabilities). The RRTC must contribute to 
this outcome by conducting research with at least one at-risk group (as 
described earlier in this paragraph) to: develop and evaluate new 
interventions or practices, evaluate practices currently being used 
with members of the at-risk group, or by conducting both of these

[[Page 14588]]

types of research. Applicants must identify the specific at-risk group 
or groups they propose to study, provide evidence that the selected 
population or populations are, in fact, at greater risk for poor 
employment outcomes, and explain how the proposed interventions and 
practices are expected to address the needs of the population or 
populations.
    (c) Increased incorporation of research findings into practice and 
policy. The RRTC must contribute to this outcome by:
    (1) Collaborating with providers of vocational rehabilitation (VR) 
services, employer groups, and stakeholders (e.g., individuals who are 
blind or visually impaired or consumer groups) in conducting the work 
of the RRTC; and
    (2) Conducting training and dissemination activities to facilitate 
the utilization of research findings in employment and VR settings.
    (d) In addition, through coordination with the NIDRR Project 
Officer, this RRTC must collaborate with:
    (1) Appropriate NIDRR-funded grantees, including knowledge 
translation grantees; and
    (2) Relevant Office of Special Education Programs and 
Rehabilitation Services Administration grantees.

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)).

Final Priority

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

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

    Executive Order 12866: This notice has been reviewed in accordance 
with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have 
assessed the potential costs and benefits of this proposed regulatory 
action.
    The potential costs associated with this proposed regulatory action 
are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we have 
determined as necessary for administering this program effectively and 
efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this proposed regulatory action, we have determined 
that the benefits of the proposed priority justify the costs.

Discussion of Costs and Benefits

    The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Program have been well established over the years in that 
similar projects have been completed successfully. This proposed 
priority will generate new knowledge and technologies through research, 
development, dissemination, utilization, and technical assistance 
projects.
    Another benefit of this proposed priority is that the establishment 
of a new RRTC will support and will improve the lives of individuals 
with disabilities. The new RRTC will generate, disseminate, and promote 
the use of new information that will improve the options for 
individuals with disabilities to obtain, retain, and advance in 
employment.
    Intergovernmental Review: This program is not subject to Executive 
Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, 
audiotape, or computer diskette) 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, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    Electronic Access to This Document: You can view this document, as 
well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal 
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the 
Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister. To 
use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at 
this site.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the 
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal 
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/nara/index.html.


    Dated: March 23, 2010.
Alexa Posny,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2010-6783 Filed 3-25-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P