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Friday, August 6, 2021

Reintroducing the RISE Act

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum
U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act to help ease the transition from high school to college for students with disabilities. The legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) and clarify that students with previous documentation of a disability would be able to continue using that documentation as proof when they transition to higher education. This would help ensure students who receive special education or accommodations because of a disability do not need to spend time and money to go through unnecessary new diagnostic testing.

The RISE Act would also make school policies and data more transparent for students and families so they can make informed decisions on the college that best fits their needs. The legislation also provides additional support for technical assistance to colleges and universities to better serve students with disabilities.

“The RISE Act will help eliminate unnecessary barriers for students with disabilities and ease their transition to higher education,” Senator Casey said. “No student with a documented disability should have to jump through extra hoops or incur extra costs to access the services and support that they need to thrive. All students deserve the opportunity to realize their full potential.”

“Learning disabilities like dyslexia are lifelong conditions. It makes no sense to require families re-prove something that is a permanent part of someone’s neurobiology. This bill removes barriers to ensure college students access the resources they need to learn and thrive,” said Dr. Cassidy.

“It makes no sense that students who experience disabilities, when transitioning to higher education, must again go through the process of obtaining documentation for their accommodations,” said Senator Hassan. “This bill would help cut red tape and empower students who experience disabilities to more easily access and transition to higher education. I am glad to work with my colleagues across the aisle on this commonsense bill, and I urge the Senate to pass it.”

“All Hoosiers deserve opportunities to access higher education. Now more than ever, we should be removing barriers and allowing individuals to attain skills necessary to enter the workforce. This bill is a smart step to streamline the college enrollment process for people with disabilities, which will help equip students to advance their careers,” said Senator Young.

“Learning disabilities are real and they are lifelong. But for too long, the process for receiving accommodations has placed the burden on students and families to navigate the complex higher education system,” says Lindsay E. Jones, President & CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. “We applaud these Members of Congress for their leadership on this important civil rights issue and look forward to working with Congress to make the RISE Act a reality.”

“I am about to enter my sophomore year of college and I don’t have any accommodations for my ADHD because my school is forcing me to again prove I have a disability and get an expensive evaluation despite the fact I was already diagnosed 2 years ago,” says ??Malachai Pruett, NCLD Young Adult Leadership Council member. “The RISE Act would mean that students like myself don’t have to jump through hoops to have a level playing field, and don’t have to watch our grades slip simply because we can’t afford to get re-evaluated for conditions we already know we have.”

The RISE Act is endorsed by the following organizations:

National Center for Learning Disabilities, The Advocacy Institute, AHEAD, AIM Institute for Learning and Research, American Association of People with Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Center for Learner Equity, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Council for Exceptional Children, Decoding Dyslexia Network, Education Reform Now, Eye to Eye, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, InnovateEDU, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Association of School Psychologists, National Disability Rights Network, National Down Syndrome Congress, RespectAbility, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children and TeachPlus.

Read the RISE Act here.