POLICY & ADVOCACY

November 9th, 2021

NCLD’s Young Adult Leadership Council Wants Fairer Access to College Accommodations Now

WASHINGTON – November 10, 2021 – The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) today urged the U.S. Department of Education to take action to ensure higher education students with disabilities have access to obtaining the accommodations they need. In a letter addressed to the Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education James Kvaal, the group of nearly 20 YALC leaders asked the Department to issue guidance for colleges and universities that would encourage them to accept a wider range of documentation as proof of a disability. 

As part of his candidacy, Joe Biden shared his Plan for Full Participation and Equality for People With Disabilities, which stated that he would “direct the Department of Education to provide guidance to all postsecondary programs to accept the accommodations students with disabilities have used in preK-12 settings for postsecondary settings.” Today, the young leaders of NCLD are calling on the Administration to follow through with this campaign promise.

The letter to ED explains that under current processes, students are often required to get a new psychological evaluation to prove, once again, that they have a learning disability—despite having previously received services or accommodations through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan in high school. This often unexpected obstacle for college students with disabilities can be costly, burdensome, and stigmatizing. Guidance from the Department would direct colleges to accept IEPs or 504 Plans as proof of a disability would remove the red tape that exists for many students with disabilities to receive reasonable accommodations in college.

“Students with disabilities across the nation face too many hurdles as they transition from high school to college settings,” said Joey Hunziker, Director of Young Adult Initiatives at NCLD. “Do our higher education administrators really believe that disabilities go away or can be ‘overcome’ by the time a student reaches college? Students with disabilities shouldn’t have to fight for the accommodations they have a right to under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We hope the Department of Education will take quick action to support students with disabilities.”

“Our leaders say that they want diverse minds in education, but with so many barriers to accommodations, disabled students are kept out of higher education,” says Rachelle Johnson, NCLD Young Adult Leadership Council Member. “As a Ph.D. student, I use my accommodations daily in order to access education. With accommodations, I am able to accurately reflect abilities and knowledge rather than the weaknesses that come with Dyslexia like slow reading. With my accommodations, I am able to thrive in academic settings, but without them I wonder if I would have a degree at all.”

Read the full letter here.

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ABOUT NCLD

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is the leading organization representing the learning disability community. NCLD improves the lives of all people with learning disabilities and attention issues by empowering parents, enabling young adults, transforming schools, and creating policy and advocacy impact. Learn more and read the latest news at www.ncld.org

For more information, please contact:

Lindsay Kubatzky, Director of Policy and Advocacy

lkubatzky@ncld.org 

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