Proposed RISE Act Helps Youth with Disabilities Transition from High School to College

In May, senators introduced a bill called Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower, or the RISE Act, S.1585, which would benefit students with disabilities who are attending college (1). The RISE Act is an amendment to the Higher Education Act (HEA) (2). At present, the documentation of a disability that served students in secondary school does not always transfer over to the college level. Because of this, many college students struggle to re-confirm their diagnoses and carry over the support and tools they previously had access to into their college life (1,2). They may choose not to pursue it at all because it would be a hefty addition to their workload.

While roughly 94% of students with learning disabilities receive accommodations in high school, only about 17% receive accommodations in post-secondary education (2). 

The idea behind the RISE Act is to streamline this process and smooth the transition between high school and college for people with disabilities as much as possible. It would achieve this by (1):

  • Saving time and money: The RISE Act would allow students with documented disabilities (through IEPs or 504s) to use those same documents when they attend college to prove their disabilities and obtain accommodations. This means that they would not need to spend time and money to go through repeat diagnostic testing.
  • Informing: The RISE Act would increase the information provided by colleges about their disability data and policies so that students would have an easier time choosing a college that suits their needs.
  • Assisting: The RISE Act would increase the involvement of the federal government in providing technical assistance to colleges and universities regarding how to help students with disabilities.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Senator Todd Young of Indiana, Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

“The RISE Act will help eliminate unnecessary barriers for students with disabilities and ease their transition to higher education,” Senator Casey says. 

The RISE Act has been endorsed by: 

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

Related Resources


  1. Diament, M. (2019, June 04). Federal Proposal Would Ease Path From Special Ed To College. Retrieved June 16, 2019, from
  2. The RISE Act: Making College Accessible for Students with Disabilities[Pamphlet]. (n.d.). National Center for Learning Disabilities.
  3. Young, Casey, Cassidy, Hassan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Remove Unnecessary Barriers for Students with Disabilities. (2019, May 22). Retrieved June 26, 2019, from

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