Final Priority; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research-Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers, 38779-38782 [2014-16089]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 9, 2014 / Rules and Regulations C, entry into, transit through or anchoring within this safety zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port of San Diego or his designated representative. (2) The safety zone is closed to all vessel traffic, except as may be permitted by the COTP or a designated representative. (3) Mariners requesting permission to transit through the safety zone may request authorization to do so from the Captain of the Port designated representative. (4) All persons and vessels shall comply with the instructions of the Coast Guard Captain of the Port or his designated representative. (5) Upon being hailed by U.S. Coast Guard or designated patrol personnel by siren, radio, flashing light or other means, the operator of a vessel shall proceed as directed. (6) The Coast Guard may be assisted by other Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies in the patrol and notification of the regulation. Dated: June 24, 2014. J.A. Janszen, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, Acting Captain of the Port San Diego. [FR Doc. 2014–16073 Filed 7–8–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–04–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [Docket ID ED–2014–OSERS–0018; CFDA Number: 84.133E–4] Final Priority; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research—Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education. ACTION: Final priority. AGENCY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Specifically, we announce a priority for a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and later years. We take this action to focus research emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:31 Jul 08, 2014 Jkt 232001 attention on an area of national need. We intend the priority to contribute to improving the accessibility, usability, and performance of technology for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Effective Date: This priority is effective August 8, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Barrett, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5142, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202–2700. Telephone: (202) 245–6211 or by email: patricia.barrett@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. DATES: 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. The program is also intended to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers The purpose of NIDRR’s RERCs program, which is funded through the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act. It does so by conducting advanced engineering research, developing and evaluating innovative technologies, facilitating service delivery system changes, stimulating the production and distribution of new technologies and equipment in the private sector, and providing training opportunities. RERCs seek to solve rehabilitation problems and remove environmental barriers to improvements in employment, community living and participation, and health and function outcomes of individuals with disabilities. The general requirements for RERCs are set out in subpart D of 34 CFR part 350 (What Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers Does the Secretary Assist?). PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 38779 Additional information on the RERCs program can be found at: http:// www2.ed.gov/programs/rerc/ index.html#types. Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(3). Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350. We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the Federal Register on April 16, 2014 (79 FR 21418). That notice contained background information and our reasons for proposing the particular priority. There are differences between the proposed priority and this final priority as discussed in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section of this notice. Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of proposed priority, four parties submitted comments on the proposed priority. Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and of any changes in the priority since publication of the NPP follows. Comment: One commenter observed that NIDRR RERC priorities have typically included a requirement that RERCs develop and implement a plan to ensure that technologies developed by the RERC are made available to the public. This commenter suggested that this requirement should be included in the priority. Discussion: We agree that this requirement would help ensure that technologies resulting from research and development conducted by the RERC would be made available to the public. Changes: New paragraph (e) has been added to the priority requiring the RERC to develop and implement a plan for transferring technologies developed by the RERC to the public. Comment: One commenter recommended specific changes to paragraph (a) of the priority, which focuses on improving technological and design features to maximize the adoption and use of auditory devices. This commenter suggested that the RERC should focus its research and development activities on open fit hearing aids, as well as other technological and design features that improve individuals’ ability to hear in noisy environments. Discussion: We agree that research on open fit hearing aids and design features that improve individuals’ ability to hear in noisy environments are important areas to consider for research and development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from proposing to focus on one or both of these topics. We do not, however, want to limit E:\FR\FM\09JYR1.SGM 09JYR1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with RULES 38780 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 9, 2014 / Rules and Regulations applicants’ ability to focus on other approaches by requiring a focus on these specific topics. The peer review process will determine the merits of each proposal. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that affordability is a critical factor in determining rates of adoption and use of auditory enhancement devices. The commenter recommended that NIDRR specifically require, in paragraph (a) of the priority, a focus on affordability when addressing factors that promote adoption and use. Discussion: We agree that affordability is important to consider when seeking to maximize the adoption and use of auditory enhancement devices. Changes: We have revised paragraph (a) of the priority to include affordability in the list of examples. Comment: One commenter supported the emphasis on improving the compatibility of auditory enhancement technologies with other technologies in paragraph (b) of the proposed priority. The commenter recommended that we require the RERC to, among other things, improve: (1) Listening systems for use in large meeting rooms such as theaters, movies, and places of worship; (2) technologies that improve signal-tonoise ratio; (3) technologies that use open source wireless connectivity; (4) wide-band audio technologies to increase the intelligibility of cell phone signals; (5) induction loop systems; (6) telecoil positioning; and (7) conference call technology. Discussion: We agree that these are important areas to consider for research and development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from proposing to focus on one or more of these topics. We do not, however, want to limit applicants’ ability to focus on other auditory enhancement technologies by requiring a focus on any specifically named technology. The peer review process will determine the merits of each proposal. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise paragraph (b) to include research and development on interoperability, and not just compatibility, of auditory enhancement technologies. Discussion: We agree that interoperability is an important concept to consider for this requirement. However, we believe that the requirement that there be compatibility supports this concept. Nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from addressing interoperability in its proposed approach. Changes: None. VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:31 Jul 08, 2014 Jkt 232001 Comment: Two commenters supported the emphasis on improving the performance of auditory enhancement devices and other accesspromoting technology in social environments in paragraph (c) of the proposed priority. One commenter recommended that the RERC focus its research and development activities on: (1) Universal platforms for connectivity to assistive listing devices; (2) smart phones/tablets/computers that work with hearing aids as assistive listening devices; (3) interactive variable message signs; and (4) speech-to-text methodologies. The other commenter suggested that the RERC focus on improving access through design of the architectural environment, for example, acoustics, lighting, and control of ambient noise and vibrations. Discussion: We agree that these are important areas to consider for research and development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from proposing to focus on one or more of these topics. We do not, however, want to limit applicants’ ability to focus on other potential solutions by requiring applicants to focus on a specific approach. The peer review process will determine the merits of each proposal. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter recommended that the environments named in paragraphs (c) and (d) of the priority be expanded to include ‘‘health care environments,’’ because of the importance of the interaction between health care service providers and individuals who are deaf and hard-ofhearing. Discussion: We agree that the interaction between health care service providers and individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing is important to these individuals, and we believe that this addition would be helpful in addressing the broad needs of individuals who are the focus of the RERC. Changes: We have added health care environments to the examples of environments that are in paragraphs (c) and (d). Comment: Two commenters supported the emphasis on enhancing aural rehabilitation and consumer involvement strategies in paragraph (d) of the proposed priority, but suggested that the requirements in paragraph (d) focus more on training. Specifically, one of these commenters recommended that paragraph (d) require the RERC to focus on: (1) Hearing assistive technology trainings; (2) online training and webinars; (3) focus groups, surveys, and consumer beta testing and review of products; and (4) encouraging young PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 people with hearing loss to pursue careers in engineering. Discussion: The suggested training approaches proposed by the commenters have merit, and we agree that consumer training is a key strategy in improving consumer knowledge and utilization of hearing enhancement technology. We do not, however, wish to limit applicants’ ability to propose potential training methods and audiences by requiring a specific focus or approach. The peer review process will determine the merits of each proposal. Changes: We are revising paragraph (d) of the priority to include general consumer training as one of the required methods of improving consumer knowledge and utilization of hearing enhancement technology. Comment: One commenter noted that consumer input is not considered sufficiently and suggested that the priority require the involvement of consumer organizations. Discussion: We agree that consumer involvement should be more explicitly required in the priority. Changes: We have modified paragraph (d) of the priority to clarify that key stakeholders must include consumers, as well as consumer groups for individuals, who are deaf or hard of hearing. Comment: One commenter suggested that there is a need to find other kinds of technologies or new ways to enhance older technologies to benefit people with hearing loss. Discussion: We agree with this suggestion, but believe that the priority as written allows applicants to pursue these options. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter wrote in support of the priority, and suggested that the RERC focus its research and development activities on the following areas: (1) Video conferencing technologies; (2) remote communication services; (3) individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and also have other disabilities; and (4) speech recognition and translation technologies. Discussion: We agree that these are important areas to consider for research and development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from proposing to focus on one or more of these topics. We do not, however, want to limit applicants’ ability to focus on other potential solutions by requiring research and development on specific technologies or topics. The peer review process will determine the merits of each proposal. Changes: None. E:\FR\FM\09JYR1.SGM 09JYR1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 9, 2014 / Rules and Regulations Comment: One commenter suggested that we frame the priority to support technological alternatives that allow improved access through both physiological enhancements via technology (e.g., cochlear implants) and modifications of the environment (e.g., relay telephone services or captioning services). The commenter also recommended that NIDRR revise the priority to recognize the diversity of consumers of hearing technology and to support the rights of the consumer to select physiological enhancements or environmental modifications. Discussion: NIDRR agrees that the diversity of consumer needs and preferences should be recognized in the RERC’s research and development work. Nothing in the priority prohibits applicants from proposing research and development on physiological enhancements, environmental modifications and related technologies, or both. Changes: None. Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority require the RERC to conduct research regarding psychosocial factors, such as stigma influence acceptability, that may affect the utilization of auditory enhancement devices. Discussion: While we agree that psycho-social factors may be an important consideration in designing auditory enhancement devices, nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from including this consideration in its proposed approach. We have no evidence to support our making this an absolute requirement of the priority. Changes: None. emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with RULES Final Priority Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services establishes a priority for a RERC on Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. The RERC must focus on innovative technological solutions, new knowledge, and concepts that will improve the lives of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Under this priority, the RERC must research, develop, and evaluate technologies, methods, and systems that will improve the accessibility, usability, and performance of technologies that benefit individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. This includes: (a) Improving technological and design features (e.g., device fit and VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:31 Jul 08, 2014 Jkt 232001 comfort, ease of control, affordability) in order to maximize adoption and use of auditory enhancement devices; (b) Improving the compatibility of auditory enhancement technologies with other technologies such as mobile devices, telephones, televisions, and other media devices); (c) Improving the performance of auditory enhancement devices and other access-promoting technology (e.g., voice to sign computer, smart phone applications, or portable real-time captioning applications) in social environments (e.g., school, work, recreation, health care, and entertainment); and (d) Enhancing aural rehabilitation, consumer involvement strategies (e.g., online access to peer and expert input on auditory technologies and communication strategies, consumer focus groups and surveys, and consumer beta testing and review of products), and consumer training to maximize access to auditory information in a variety of settings (e.g., educational, recreational, community, health care, and workplace). The RERC must involve key stakeholders in the design and implementation of RERC activities. These stakeholders must include individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and consumer groups who represent them. (e) Increasing the transfer of RERCdeveloped technologies to the marketplace for widespread testing and use by developing and implementing a plan to ensure that technologies developed by the RERC are made available to the public or to service delivery systems that serve the public. This technology transfer plan must be developed in the first year of the project period in consultation with the NIDRRfunded Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer. 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 PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 38781 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, 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 E:\FR\FM\09JYR1.SGM 09JYR1 emcdonald on DSK67QTVN1PROD with RULES 38782 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 131 / Wednesday, July 9, 2014 / Rules and Regulations (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 Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program have been well established over the years, as projects similar to the one envisioned by the final priority have been completed VerDate Mar<15>2010 16:31 Jul 08, 2014 Jkt 232001 successfully. The new RERC would generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new information that is intended to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities in the areas of community living and participation, employment, and health and function. 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: July 3, 2014. Michael K. Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. [FR Doc. 2014–16089 Filed 7–8–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000–01–P DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Chapter III [ED–2014–OSERS–0047] Final Priority; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research—Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education. ACTION: Final priority. AGENCY: [CFDA Number: 84.133B–8.] The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services announces a priority for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) Program administered by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Specifically, we announce a priority for an RRTC on Family Support. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and later years. We take this action to focus research attention on an area of national need. We intend the priority to contribute to improved outcomes for individuals with disabilities and family members who provide assistance to them. Effective Date: This priority is effective August 8, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Barrett, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5142, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202–2700. Telephone: (202) 245–6211 or by email: patricia.barrett@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. DATES: 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). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers The purpose of the RRTCs, which are funded through the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, is to achieve the goals of, and improve the effectiveness of, services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act through welldesigned research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination activities in important topical areas as specified by NIDRR. These activities are designed to benefit rehabilitation service providers, individuals with disabilities, family members, policymakers, and other research stakeholders. Additional information on the RRTC program can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/ programs/rrtc/index.html#types. Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(2). E:\FR\FM\09JYR1.SGM 09JYR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 131 (Wednesday, July 9, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 38779-38782]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-16089]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter III

[Docket ID ED-2014-OSERS-0018; CFDA Number: 84.133E-4]


Final Priority; National Institute on Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research--Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers

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

ACTION: Final priority.

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

SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program administered by 
the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
(NIDRR). Specifically, we announce a priority for a Rehabilitation 
Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Improving the Accessibility, 
Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals who are Deaf 
or Hard of Hearing. The Assistant Secretary may use this priority for 
competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and later years. We take this 
action to focus research attention on an area of national need. We 
intend the priority to contribute to improving the accessibility, 
usability, and performance of technology for individuals who are deaf 
or hard of hearing.

DATES:  Effective Date: This priority is effective August 8, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Barrett, U.S. Department of 
Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 5142, Potomac Center Plaza 
(PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700. Telephone: (202) 245-6211 or by 
email: patricia.barrett@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 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. The program is also intended to improve the 
effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 
1973, as amended (Rehabilitation Act).

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers

    The purpose of NIDRR's RERCs program, which is funded through the 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program, is 
to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the 
Rehabilitation Act. It does so by conducting advanced engineering 
research, developing and evaluating innovative technologies, 
facilitating service delivery system changes, stimulating the 
production and distribution of new technologies and equipment in the 
private sector, and providing training opportunities. RERCs seek to 
solve rehabilitation problems and remove environmental barriers to 
improvements in employment, community living and participation, and 
health and function outcomes of individuals with disabilities.
    The general requirements for RERCs are set out in subpart D of 34 
CFR part 350 (What Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers Does the 
Secretary Assist?).
    Additional information on the RERCs program can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/rerc/index.html#types.

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(3).

    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.
    We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the 
Federal Register on April 16, 2014 (79 FR 21418). That notice contained 
background information and our reasons for proposing the particular 
priority.
    There are differences between the proposed priority and this final 
priority as discussed in the Analysis of Comments and Changes section 
of this notice.
    Public Comment: In response to our invitation in the notice of 
proposed priority, four parties submitted comments on the proposed 
priority.
    Analysis of Comments and Changes: An analysis of the comments and 
of any changes in the priority since publication of the NPP follows.
    Comment: One commenter observed that NIDRR RERC priorities have 
typically included a requirement that RERCs develop and implement a 
plan to ensure that technologies developed by the RERC are made 
available to the public. This commenter suggested that this requirement 
should be included in the priority.
    Discussion: We agree that this requirement would help ensure that 
technologies resulting from research and development conducted by the 
RERC would be made available to the public.
    Changes: New paragraph (e) has been added to the priority requiring 
the RERC to develop and implement a plan for transferring technologies 
developed by the RERC to the public.
    Comment: One commenter recommended specific changes to paragraph 
(a) of the priority, which focuses on improving technological and 
design features to maximize the adoption and use of auditory devices. 
This commenter suggested that the RERC should focus its research and 
development activities on open fit hearing aids, as well as other 
technological and design features that improve individuals' ability to 
hear in noisy environments.
    Discussion: We agree that research on open fit hearing aids and 
design features that improve individuals' ability to hear in noisy 
environments are important areas to consider for research and 
development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from 
proposing to focus on one or both of these topics. We do not, however, 
want to limit

[[Page 38780]]

applicants' ability to focus on other approaches by requiring a focus 
on these specific topics. The peer review process will determine the 
merits of each proposal.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that affordability is a critical 
factor in determining rates of adoption and use of auditory enhancement 
devices. The commenter recommended that NIDRR specifically require, in 
paragraph (a) of the priority, a focus on affordability when addressing 
factors that promote adoption and use.
    Discussion: We agree that affordability is important to consider 
when seeking to maximize the adoption and use of auditory enhancement 
devices.
    Changes: We have revised paragraph (a) of the priority to include 
affordability in the list of examples.
    Comment: One commenter supported the emphasis on improving the 
compatibility of auditory enhancement technologies with other 
technologies in paragraph (b) of the proposed priority. The commenter 
recommended that we require the RERC to, among other things, improve: 
(1) Listening systems for use in large meeting rooms such as theaters, 
movies, and places of worship; (2) technologies that improve signal-to-
noise ratio; (3) technologies that use open source wireless 
connectivity; (4) wide-band audio technologies to increase the 
intelligibility of cell phone signals; (5) induction loop systems; (6) 
telecoil positioning; and (7) conference call technology.
    Discussion: We agree that these are important areas to consider for 
research and development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an 
applicant from proposing to focus on one or more of these topics. We do 
not, however, want to limit applicants' ability to focus on other 
auditory enhancement technologies by requiring a focus on any 
specifically named technology. The peer review process will determine 
the merits of each proposal.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that we revise paragraph (b) to 
include research and development on interoperability, and not just 
compatibility, of auditory enhancement technologies.
    Discussion: We agree that interoperability is an important concept 
to consider for this requirement. However, we believe that the 
requirement that there be compatibility supports this concept. Nothing 
in the priority prohibits an applicant from addressing interoperability 
in its proposed approach.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: Two commenters supported the emphasis on improving the 
performance of auditory enhancement devices and other access-promoting 
technology in social environments in paragraph (c) of the proposed 
priority. One commenter recommended that the RERC focus its research 
and development activities on: (1) Universal platforms for connectivity 
to assistive listing devices; (2) smart phones/tablets/computers that 
work with hearing aids as assistive listening devices; (3) interactive 
variable message signs; and (4) speech-to-text methodologies. The other 
commenter suggested that the RERC focus on improving access through 
design of the architectural environment, for example, acoustics, 
lighting, and control of ambient noise and vibrations.
    Discussion: We agree that these are important areas to consider for 
research and development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an 
applicant from proposing to focus on one or more of these topics. We do 
not, however, want to limit applicants' ability to focus on other 
potential solutions by requiring applicants to focus on a specific 
approach. The peer review process will determine the merits of each 
proposal.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended that the environments named in 
paragraphs (c) and (d) of the priority be expanded to include ``health 
care environments,'' because of the importance of the interaction 
between health care service providers and individuals who are deaf and 
hard-of-hearing.
    Discussion: We agree that the interaction between health care 
service providers and individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing is 
important to these individuals, and we believe that this addition would 
be helpful in addressing the broad needs of individuals who are the 
focus of the RERC.
    Changes: We have added health care environments to the examples of 
environments that are in paragraphs (c) and (d).
    Comment: Two commenters supported the emphasis on enhancing aural 
rehabilitation and consumer involvement strategies in paragraph (d) of 
the proposed priority, but suggested that the requirements in paragraph 
(d) focus more on training. Specifically, one of these commenters 
recommended that paragraph (d) require the RERC to focus on: (1) 
Hearing assistive technology trainings; (2) online training and 
webinars; (3) focus groups, surveys, and consumer beta testing and 
review of products; and (4) encouraging young people with hearing loss 
to pursue careers in engineering.
    Discussion: The suggested training approaches proposed by the 
commenters have merit, and we agree that consumer training is a key 
strategy in improving consumer knowledge and utilization of hearing 
enhancement technology. We do not, however, wish to limit applicants' 
ability to propose potential training methods and audiences by 
requiring a specific focus or approach. The peer review process will 
determine the merits of each proposal.
    Changes: We are revising paragraph (d) of the priority to include 
general consumer training as one of the required methods of improving 
consumer knowledge and utilization of hearing enhancement technology.
    Comment: One commenter noted that consumer input is not considered 
sufficiently and suggested that the priority require the involvement of 
consumer organizations.
    Discussion: We agree that consumer involvement should be more 
explicitly required in the priority.
    Changes: We have modified paragraph (d) of the priority to clarify 
that key stakeholders must include consumers, as well as consumer 
groups for individuals, who are deaf or hard of hearing.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that there is a need to find other 
kinds of technologies or new ways to enhance older technologies to 
benefit people with hearing loss.
    Discussion: We agree with this suggestion, but believe that the 
priority as written allows applicants to pursue these options.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter wrote in support of the priority, and 
suggested that the RERC focus its research and development activities 
on the following areas: (1) Video conferencing technologies; (2) remote 
communication services; (3) individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing 
and also have other disabilities; and (4) speech recognition and 
translation technologies.
    Discussion: We agree that these are important areas to consider for 
research and development. Nothing in the priority prohibits an 
applicant from proposing to focus on one or more of these topics. We do 
not, however, want to limit applicants' ability to focus on other 
potential solutions by requiring research and development on specific 
technologies or topics. The peer review process will determine the 
merits of each proposal.
    Changes: None.

[[Page 38781]]

    Comment: One commenter suggested that we frame the priority to 
support technological alternatives that allow improved access through 
both physiological enhancements via technology (e.g., cochlear 
implants) and modifications of the environment (e.g., relay telephone 
services or captioning services). The commenter also recommended that 
NIDRR revise the priority to recognize the diversity of consumers of 
hearing technology and to support the rights of the consumer to select 
physiological enhancements or environmental modifications.
    Discussion: NIDRR agrees that the diversity of consumer needs and 
preferences should be recognized in the RERC's research and development 
work. Nothing in the priority prohibits applicants from proposing 
research and development on physiological enhancements, environmental 
modifications and related technologies, or both.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter suggested that the priority require the RERC 
to conduct research regarding psycho-social factors, such as stigma 
influence acceptability, that may affect the utilization of auditory 
enhancement devices.
    Discussion: While we agree that psycho-social factors may be an 
important consideration in designing auditory enhancement devices, 
nothing in the priority prohibits an applicant from including this 
consideration in its proposed approach. We have no evidence to support 
our making this an absolute requirement of the priority.
    Changes: None.

Final Priority

 Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology 
for Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services establishes a priority for a RERC on Improving the 
Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals 
who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. The RERC must focus on innovative 
technological solutions, new knowledge, and concepts that will improve 
the lives of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
    Under this priority, the RERC must research, develop, and evaluate 
technologies, methods, and systems that will improve the accessibility, 
usability, and performance of technologies that benefit individuals who 
are deaf or hard of hearing. This includes:
    (a) Improving technological and design features (e.g., device fit 
and comfort, ease of control, affordability) in order to maximize 
adoption and use of auditory enhancement devices;
    (b) Improving the compatibility of auditory enhancement 
technologies with other technologies such as mobile devices, 
telephones, televisions, and other media devices);
    (c) Improving the performance of auditory enhancement devices and 
other access-promoting technology (e.g., voice to sign computer, smart 
phone applications, or portable real-time captioning applications) in 
social environments (e.g., school, work, recreation, health care, and 
entertainment); and
    (d) Enhancing aural rehabilitation, consumer involvement strategies 
(e.g., online access to peer and expert input on auditory technologies 
and communication strategies, consumer focus groups and surveys, and 
consumer beta testing and review of products), and consumer training to 
maximize access to auditory information in a variety of settings (e.g., 
educational, recreational, community, health care, and workplace). The 
RERC must involve key stakeholders in the design and implementation of 
RERC activities. These stakeholders must include individuals who are 
deaf or hard of hearing and consumer groups who represent them.
    (e) Increasing the transfer of RERC-developed technologies to the 
marketplace for widespread testing and use by developing and 
implementing a plan to ensure that technologies developed by the RERC 
are made available to the public or to service delivery systems that 
serve the public. This technology transfer plan must be developed in 
the first year of the project period in consultation with the NIDRR-
funded Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer.

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, 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

[[Page 38782]]

(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 Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Program have been well established over the years, as 
projects similar to the one envisioned by the final priority have been 
completed successfully. The new RERC would generate, disseminate, and 
promote the use of new information that is intended to improve outcomes 
for individuals with disabilities in the areas of community living and 
participation, employment, and health and function.
    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: July 3, 2014.
Michael K. Yudin,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services.
[FR Doc. 2014-16089 Filed 7-8-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P