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Bonamici, Bucshon, Schrier, McMorris Rodgers Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Students with Disabilities Access College Support Services

July 29, 2021
Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC [7/29/21] – Today Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) introduced bipartisan legislation to ease the transition from high school to college for students with disabilities by making it easier for them to access the support services they need.


The Respond, Innovate, Support, and Empower (RISE) Act will allow college students to use existing documentation of a disability when seeking accommodations on campus, saving families hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Currently, students are required to obtain expensive new evaluations before being granted access to special education services.


“Students with disabilities face too many barriers to earning a degree or credential after high school,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Chair of the Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. “Congress can remove one of these barriers by making sure students can easily access the support services for which they already have a documented need. The RISE Actwill ease the burdensome, expensive, and redundant requirements these students frequently face when they enter college. The RISE Act also requires that colleges and universities keep students, parents, and faculty informed about accommodations for students with disabilities.”


“As a parent of a child with a learning disability, I understand firsthand the challenges of ensuring they receive quality education,” said Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. “We must work to eliminate the roadblocks preventing students with disabilities from pursuing higher education, especially as we continue to deal with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The RISE Act is common-sense legislation that will remove barriers of entry to ensure that students with disabilities have a chance to succeed at the collegiate level.”


“I’m proud to be introducing the RISE Act with my colleagues to ease paperwork burdens on college students,” said Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. “Going to college can be a stressful time, especially for students with disabilities. This legislation will allow high school diagnoses and treatment plans to transfer to the college level, decreasing unnecessary paperwork and ensuring a seamless transition to college. There should be no gap in support for students, so they have every opportunity to succeed.”


“Everyone, no matter their ability, should have access to higher education and the opportunity for a better life,” said Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.“But far too often, people with disabilities struggle to access the services and accommodations they need to succeed in college. The RISE Act will address the challenges these students face by ensuring information on disability services is readily available for parents and students and by removing barriers to accessing these accommodations.”


"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,” said Lindsay E. Jones, President & CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD). “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,” said ​​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.”


Under the RISE Act, qualifying documentation would include a 504 plan or an individualized education program (IEP), which many students have before attending college.


The legislation also authorizes an increase in funding for the National Center for Information and Technical Support for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities. This technical assistance center disseminates information to students and families about the process for receiving accommodations in higher education, and it provides best practices for supporting students with disabilities to college and university faculty. The RISE Act also improves reporting on academic outcomes for students with disabilities.


The legislation is supported by: 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.


The Senate companion to the RISE Act was introduced by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).