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Senator Hassan, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ease College Transition for Students with Disabilities

WASHINGTON - Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in introducing the bipartisan RISE Act in an effort to ease the burden of transitioning to college life for students who experience disabilities. The act amends the Higher Education Act (HEA) to clarify that documentation used in K-12 education and other settings to receive special education or accommodations would be acceptable as proof of a disability for students in higher education.

“We are at our strongest when we fully include the talent and energy of all people in our society and our economy,” Senator Hassan said. “The bipartisan RISE Act is critical to making that vision a reality by removing burdensome and unnecessary barriers for students who experience disabilities during their transition from K-12 to higher education. I will continue to work across party lines to move this important bill forward and expand opportunity for students who experience disabilities.”

From the National Center for Learning Disabilities:

“The National Center for Learning Disabilities applauds Senator Casey, Senator Hatch, Senator Cassidy, Senator Hassan, Representative Bonamici and Representative Bucshon for listening to families across the nation and introducing the RISE Act, which will make college more accessible for the 1 in 5 individuals with learning and attention issues. 

Importantly, the RISE Act closes a loophole that often requires college students with a documented disability to undergo new, costly diagnostic testing in college to be eligible for accommodations.  Not only will the RISE Act reduce this financial burden on students – and their families – but it will allow students and colleges to shift their focus to the important goal of promoting academic success,” stated Mimi Corcoran, President & CEO, National Center for Learning Disabilities.”

From the American Council on Education:

The American Council on Education (ACE) and the nearly 1,800 colleges, universities and related associations that we represent are grateful to Senators Casey and Hatch for introducing the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act of 2017. The RISE Act will provide valuable clarity for institutions as they serve students with disabilities, and we look forward to working with its sponsors to advance this legislation,” said Molly Corbett Broad, President, American Council on Education

The RISE Act addresses several existing issues within the Higher Education Act that serve as unnecessary barriers for students with disabilities and their families. Currently, students who have already been diagnosed with a disability in their K-12 years or in other settings must go through new testing to re-qualify for disability services during their post-secondary educations. Instead of forcing these students to expend the time and energy to go through new diagnostic testing, the RISE Act would allow previous documentation to be accepted as proof of a disability.

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. Finally, the bill also provides additional support for technical assistance to colleges and universities to better serve individuals with disabilities.

The RISE Act is endorsed by the following organizations:

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