Last year, members of Congress introduced the Respond, Innovate, Support, and Empower (RISE) Act which would reduce barriers and increase access to postsecondary opportunities for students with disabilities. NCLD and 40 other organizations support this bill but we need your help to push it forward. Together we can work to shape policy that reduces barriers and ensures opportunity and access for all. Talk isn’t enough. What we do depends on you: our advocates. We urge you to learn more about the RISE Act so that, together, we can dismantle inequitable systems for college students with disabilities. Here are 5 things to know:
1. The RISE Act allows students to use existing documentation as proof of a disability.
94% of students with learning disabilities received accommodations in high school, but only 17% received them in college. One reason for this is because many colleges and universities require students to submit a recent psycho-educational evaluation as documentation, which is a costly and burdensome process.
By allowing students with disabilities to submit a previous Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan as proof of a disability, the RISE Act would enable many more students with disabilities to receive accommodations to help them to succeed in college. These accommodations, such as extended time on tests, assistive technology like text-to-speech software, or a notetaker, enables equal access to college coursework. Individualized decisions about which accommodations a student can access would continue to be made by the college and the student.
2. If the RISE Act were passed, college faculty would receive more training on supporting students with disabilities.
The bill provides funding for the National Center for Information and Technical Support for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities (NCCSD). The center provides information to young adults and families, but also support and training to college faculty on best practices to support students with disabilities. For example, NCCSD’s online clearinghouse has inclusive teaching and learning resources, disability-specific information on accommodations, and even considerations for teaching students with disabilities in an online or hybrid setting during the pandemic.
3. The RISE Act would require colleges and universities to report data on students with disabilities in the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS).
IPEDS is the most comprehensive publicly-available source of data on the 7500+ postsecondary institutions in the United States. While IPEDS collects data on student characteristics such as race/ethnicity, income and age, it does not collect any data on students with disabilities enrolled in postsecondary institutions. If passed, the RISE Act would require colleges and universities to submit key data on undergraduate students with disabilities who are formally registered with the disability services office. This data would include:
- The total number of students with disabilities enrolled
- The percentage of students with disabilities of all undergraduate students
- The number of students accessing or receiving accommodations
- And the total number of degrees or credentials awarded to students with disabilities
4. President Biden has recognized these issues and committed to addressing them.
As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden pledged that he “will direct the Department of Education (ED) to provide guidance to all postsecondary programs to accept the accommodations students with disabilities have used in pre K-12 settings for postsecondary settings.”
NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council has asked ED to fulfill this pledge by issuing guidance to institutions of higher education. However, this guidance is not legally binding. Only passing federal legislation such as the RISE Act would change the law and require colleges and universities to reduce barriers to success for students with disabilities.
5. Support for the RISE Act is growing! Ask your Members of Congress to support it today.
Last July, the RISE Act was introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate with bipartisan support from 10 members of Congress. Since then, hundreds of advocates have asked their representatives to support this piece of legislation and three more members of Congress are co-sponsors of the bill.
You can share your own story and ask your Members of Congress to support the RISE Act today: ncld.co/RISEAct.
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