Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
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This notice of final priorities (NFP) is in concert with National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research's (NIDRR's) currently approved Long-Range Plan (Plan). The Plan, which was published in the
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 the best strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate findings.
This notice announces two priorities that NIDRR intends to use for RERC competitions in FY 2011 and possibly later years. However, nothing precludes NIDRR from publishing additional priorities, if needed. Furthermore, NIDRR is under no obligation to make an award for these priorities. The decision to make an award will be based on the quality of applications received and available funding.
The purpose of the RERC program is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act by conducting advanced engineering research on and development of innovative technologies that are designed to solve particular rehabilitation problems, or to remove environmental barriers. RERCs also demonstrate and evaluate such technologies, facilitate service delivery system changes, stimulate the production and distribution of new technologies and equipment in the private sector, and provide training opportunities.
RERCs carry out research or demonstration activities in support of the Rehabilitation Act by—
• Developing and disseminating innovative methods of applying advanced technology, scientific achievement, and psychological and social knowledge to solve rehabilitation problems and to remove environmental barriers through studying and evaluating new or emerging technologies, products, or environments and their effectiveness and benefits; or
• Demonstrating and disseminating: (a) Innovative models for the delivery of cost-effective rehabilitation technology services to rural and urban areas; and (b) other scientific research to assist in meeting the employment and independent living needs of individuals with severe disabilities; and
• Facilitating service delivery systems change through: (a) The development, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative, consumer-responsive, and individual- and family-centered models for the delivery to both rural and urban areas of innovative cost-effective rehabilitation technology services; and (b) other scientific research to assist in meeting the employment and independent living needs of and addressing the barriers confronted by individuals with disabilities, including individuals with severe disabilities.
Each RERC must be operated by, or in collaboration with, one or more institutions of higher education or one or more nonprofit organizations.
Each RERC must provide training opportunities, in conjunction with institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations, to assist individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to become rehabilitation technology researchers and practitioners.
Each RERC must emphasize the principles of universal design in its product research and development. Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design (North Carolina State University, 1997, The Center for Universal Design,
Additional information on the RERC program can be found at:
29 U.S.C. 762(g) and 764(b)(3).
We published a notice of proposed priorities (NPP) for NIDRR's Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program in the
Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes. In addition, we do not address general comments that raised concerns not directly related to the proposed priorities.
The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services establishes a priority for a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Low Vision and Blindness. This RERC must research and develop technologies that will improve the assessment of low vision and blindness and promote independence for individuals with low vision and blindness of all ages, including those who are deaf-blind and those with multiple disabilities. Specifically, the RERC must improve vision assessment for the changing and expanding population of individuals who are at risk for experiencing low vision and blindness, including but not limited to, the elderly, returning military veterans, and prematurely born infants. The RERC must also research and develop technologies that will improve individuals' access to graphical information, signage, and travel information and devices and appliances that have digital displays and control panels. In addition, the RERC must research and develop technologies to promote the participation of individuals with low vision and blindness in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Regarding participation in STEM education, these technologies include but are not limited to accessible scientific measurement instruments, tools, and materials.
The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services establishes a priority for a Rehabilitation
A RERC established under either of the proposed priorities in this notice must be designed to contribute to the following outcomes:
(1) Increased technical and scientific knowledge relevant to its designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute to this outcome by conducting high-quality, rigorous research and development projects.
(2) Increased innovation in technologies, products, environments, performance guidelines, and monitoring and assessment tools applicable to its designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute to this outcome through the development and testing of these innovations.
(3) Improved research capacity in its designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute to this outcome by collaborating with the relevant industry, professional associations, institutions of higher education, health care providers, or educators, as appropriate.
(4) Improved awareness and understanding of cutting edge developments in technologies within its designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute to this outcome by identifying and communicating with NIDRR, individuals with disabilities and their representatives, disability organizations, service providers, professional journals, manufacturers, and other interested parties regarding trends and evolving product concepts related to its designated priority research area.
(5) Increased impact of research in the designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute to this outcome by providing technical assistance to relevant public and private organizations, individuals with disabilities, employers, and schools on policies, guidelines, and standards related to its designated priority research area.
(6) Increased transfer of RERC-developed technologies to the marketplace. The RERC must contribute to this outcome by developing and implementing a plan for ensuring that all technologies developed by the RERC are made available to the public. The technology transfer plan must be developed in the first year of the project period in consultation with the NIDRR-funded Disability Rehabilitation Research Project, Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer.
In addition, under each priority, the RERC must—
• Have the capability to design, build, and test prototype devices and assist in the technology transfer and knowledge translation of successful solutions to relevant production and service delivery settings;
• Evaluate the efficacy and safety of its new products, instrumentation, or assistive devices;
• Provide as part of its proposal, and then implement, a plan that describes how it will include, as appropriate, individuals with disabilities or their representatives in all phases of its activities, including research, development, training, dissemination, and evaluation;
• Provide as part of its proposal, and then implement, in consultation with the NIDRR-funded National Center for the Dissemination of Disability Research, a plan to disseminate its research results to individuals with disabilities and their representatives, disability organizations, service providers, professional journals, manufacturers, and other interested parties;
• Conduct a state-of-the-science conference on its designated priority research area in the fourth year of the project period, and publish a comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the conference in the fifth year of the project period; and
• Coordinate research projects of mutual interest with relevant NIDRR-funded projects, as identified through consultation with the NIDRR project officer.
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
This notice does not preclude us from proposing additional priorities, requirements, definitions, or selection criteria, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking requirements.
This notice does
The potential costs associated with this final 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 final regulatory action, we have determined that the benefits of the final priorities justify the costs.
You may also access documents of the Department published in the