On January 26th, the National Center For Learning Disabilities’ (NCLD) Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) held a meeting with staff from the United States Department of Education. The meeting was a follow-up to a letter sent by the Council requesting the Department issue guidance to institutions of higher education to reduce the burden placed on students with disabilities as they transition from high school to postsecondary education. In this letter, we outlined the experiences students face as they transition from high school to postsecondary education. Students are less likely to receive accommodations and receive fewer supports. Students must also prove, at great expense, the need for accommodations that made it possible to achieve success in higher education. NCLD and the YALC have been working on this issue for over 6 years, having proposed the RISE Act (Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower Act), first introduced in December of 2016 and reintroduced 3 times since. Despite bipartisan support in Congress, the bill has not been made into law. Therefore, the members of the Young Adult Leadership Council won’t wait around for Congress to take action. Instead, we are asking the Department of Education to use its authority to issue federal guidance.
This meeting opened with NCLD’s Lindsay Kubatzky, Director of Policy & Advocacy giving a brief overview of NCLD and the work we do each year to improve outcomes for students with learning disabilities. Afterwards, YALC member Rachelle Johnson spoke about the pivotal point we are at in higher education for students with learning disabilities. She explained the current barriers in place for these students and requested that the Department of Education issue guidance that requires institutions of higher education to accept proof of receiving special education services or accommodations in K-12 settings as evidence of a disability when seeking accommodations in postsecondary settings. Read more about Rachelle’s opening here.
Once we gave an overview of the issue, several members of the YALC shared personal stories about their experiences obtaining accommodations in college, powerful illustrations of why this issue is not just theoretical but practical for millions of students with learning disabilities across the country. As members of the YALC we have a significant duty to represent these students. We can’t advocate with Congress and wait for change, but rather we need to make it ourselves.
I for one am so proud of myself and fellow YALC members for being so brave and vulnerable in sharing our stories. Change cannot come without people standing and speaking up for the injustices that currently plague students across the country. I left that meeting feeling more certain that when we work together as a council, sharing our stories in tandem, that’s when real change starts to happen. As we move toward 2022 and beyond, I hope you join us in pressuring the Biden Administration to issue guidance and join us in asking Congress to pass the RISE ACT!
In this blog series you will hear from members of NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council about the importance of college accommodations and what we are doing to make it easier for students with disabilities across the country to get the accommodations they are entitled to under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Post-Secondary Education Accommodations and Access Evaluation
Tell Congress: Pass the RISE Act
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