May 22, 2019

Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Remove Unnecessary Barriers for Students with Disabilities

Washington—U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act to help ease the burden of transitioning to college for students with disabilities.  

The legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) to 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.

“Dyslexia is a lifelong condition, so requiring families to re-pay to re-establish something that is a permanent part of someone’s neurobiology is nonsensical and costly,” Dr. Cassidy said. “We must remove barriers so students can access the resources they need to succeed.”

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 provides additional support for technical assistance to colleges and universities to better serve people with disabilities.

“The RISE Act will help eliminate unnecessary barriers for students with disabilities and ease their transition to higher education,” Sen. Casey said. “No student with a documented disability should have to jump through extra hoops or incur extra costs to prove their disability. I’m pleased to see educational institutions and the disability community working together with me to ensure that students can thrive from day 1 on campus.” 

“This bipartisan legislation removes burdensome and unnecessary barriers Granite Staters and Americans who experience disabilities face when transitioning from K-12 to higher education,” Senator Hassan said. “In easing the transition to higher education for students who experience disabilities, we can help expand economic opportunity for more students and strengthen our economy.”

“All Hoosiers deserve a fair shot at success. This legislation takes an important step to simplify the college enrollment process for people with disabilities, which will help more students access higher education and open doors of opportunity,” Senator Young said.

The RISE Act is endorsed by the following organizations. 

The National Center for Learning Disabilities
AIM Institute for Learning and Research
American Association of People with Disabilities
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Decoding Dyslexia Network
Eye to Eye
Higher Education Consortium for Special Education
Learning Disabilities Association of America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Down Syndrome Congress
Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children
The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates.