Education: Senators Introduce Bill to Improve Access to Accommodations in College

On May 22, 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 (S.1585). This bill would require institutions of higher education to accept a student’s individualized education plan (IEP), 504 plan, or prior evaluation as sufficient proof of disability. Additionally, it requires institutions to provide transparent information regarding the process of determining eligibility for disability services and to disseminate the information in an accessible format. It also requires institutions to report information on the number of students with disabilities served, their outcomes, and the accommodations provided. The Arc supports this legislation.

Education – Alternative Reauthorization of Higher Education Act Introduced in the House

On July 26, Representative Bobby Scott and sixteen co-sponsors introduced the Aim Higher Act (H.R. 6543) to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Among many other things, the bill would require colleges to accept formal disability documentation from high school so the students no longer must re-prove their disability to receive accommodations in college. The bill would reauthorize the Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities and teacher preparation programs that train teachers to educate diverse learners. The Aim Higher Act is the alternative to the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508) that passed the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in February. See the statement from the CCD Education Task Force here.

Higher Education Bill Introduced in Senate

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced the Higher Education Affordability Act (S. 2954), a bill to reauthorize and improve the Higher Education Act (HEA).  The bill seeks to improve affordability and accountability in the nation’s colleges and universities and includes a number of improvements for students with disabilities including:

  • Reauthorizing and expanding the Transition Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) to encourage more programs for students with intellectual disability and to better disseminate knowledge developed by institutions in creating and operating these programs (view TPSID programs by state);
  • Creating national technical assistance centers to help high school students with disabilities identify schools with appropriate supports and to help institutions better provide physical, programmatic, and instructional accommodations;
  • Creating a national data center to collect information about the recruitment, retention, graduation, and employment of students with disabilities; and
  • Requiring institutions to ensure their instructional materials are accessible.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP Committee).