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Bonamici, Bucshon, Schrier, McMorris Rodgers Introduce Legislation to Help Students with Disabilities Access Support Services

June 6, 2019
Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC [6/6/19] – 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 legislation to streamline the process for college students with disabilities to access needed support services.


The bipartisan Respond, Innovate, Support, and Empower (RISE) Act, H.R. 3086, will ease the transition from high school to college for students with disabilities, and save their families hundreds or even thousands of dollars by allowing them to use existing documentation of a disability when seeking accommodations on campus. Currently, students are required to obtain expensive new evaluations before being granted access to special education services.


“Students with disabilities who have worked hard to get to college should be able to access all of the services they need without having to overcome burdensome, expensive hurdles,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Chair of the Education Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. “The bipartisan RISE Act will help more students earn a degree or credential by removing the requirement that they repeat the process of documenting a disability. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues in this important effort to expand access to higher education.”


“As a parent of a student with a learning disability, I understand firsthand the challenges of ensuring they receive quality education,” said Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. “With only about one-third of students with disabilities completing their four-year program within eight years, it is clear that we must remove the barriers that are preventing their success. 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,” said Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. “By helping to ensure a seamless transition to college for students with disabilities, we are removing unnecessary stress and spending at an already stressful time. Every student deserves support and the opportunity to succeed and this will remove a barrier to future success.”


“Everyone, no matter their ability, should have access to higher education and the opportunity for a better life,” said Congresswoman 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.”


“NCLD applauds Representatives Bonamici, Bucshon, Schrier, and McMorris Rodgers for reintroducing the RISE Act,” said Lindsay E. Jones, Esq, CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. “All too often, students with learning disabilities earn their high school diploma, yet fail to graduate college. This is a problem and is often due to not receiving the support and accommodations they need in college. Students with disabilities deserve an equal playing field and the RISE Act creates that. Students cannot afford to wait another day to have a fair chance at success.”


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 was supported by: Autism Society of America, National Center for Learning Disabilities, AHEAD, The Arc, National Disability Rights Network, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, The National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Learning Disabilities Association of America, School Social Work Association of America, Brain Injury Association of America, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, American Physical Therapy Association, National Association of School Psychologists, TASH, Council for Learning Disabilities, Tourette Association of America, National Parent Teacher Association, Autism Speaks, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Council for Exceptional Children, National Down Syndrome Congress, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, Association of University Centers on Disabilities, American Association of People with Disabilities, Eye to Eye, AIM Academy and AIM Institute for Learning & Research, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Decoding Dyslexia Network.


Students with disabilities are less likely than other students to earn a college degree; according to the National Council on Disability, only about one-third of students with disabilities complete a four-year degree within eight years. More than 10 percent of undergraduate students report having a disability.