At the start of each two-year legislative session, the MDSC’s Government Affairs Committee carefully selects a set of priority bills and secondary support bills for our statewide legislative platform. We believe that the best way to put these bills on legislators’ agendas is for our members to take action and contact their representatives about the issues they care about.
Act Now and Make a Difference!
Provide Access to College for People with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, and Other Developmental Disabilities
What is the Higher Education Bill?
The Higher Education Bill (HB. 1331/1337, SB. 846) will allow people with intellectual disabilities (ID), developmental disabilities (DD), and autism spectrum disorder to access the Commonwealth’s state colleges and universities to gain skills necessary to work and live as independently as possible as adults.
What will the Higher Education Bill do?
This key legislation will tear down numerous barriers that have historically restricted individuals with I/DD and autism from reaping the benefits of higher education. To participate in higher education, students with disabilities will not be required to take MCAS or any standardized college entrance aptitude exams, meet a minimum course requirement or GPA, or have a high school diploma. The Higher Education Bill will ensure that students with disabilities can participate with their nondisabled peers in extracurricular activities, courses, and other aspects of campus life, all with supports and services to facilitate inclusion.
Why is the Higher Education Bill CRUCIAL?
Students with disabilities have historically struggled to attain higher education due to systemic barriers such as MCAS and diploma requirements. As a result, individuals with disabilities who were unable to attend college have endured a lower self-assessed quality of life: a study found that fewer than half of individuals with ID who did not attend college said they were satisfied with their social life; by comparison, nearly 100% of college graduates with ID reported satisfaction.
Individuals with I/DD and autism thrive at and after college. They lead more independent lives, learn how to advocate for themselves and effectively utilize support services. They achieve higher paying jobs as well as higher employment rates. Many use public transportation and services like UBER to travel to college and their places of employment. Some even hold multiple jobs.
We NEED Your Support!
MDSC and our advocacy partners at the Massachusetts Advocates for Children have been working on this legislation for close to 10 years. With your support, we hope to get this passed during this legislative session!
Please send a message or call your elected officials asking them to support the Higher Education Bill and equal access to education for students with disabilities. Be sure to tell them your personal experience and let them know if you are a parent of a child with a disability, an educator, advocate, or a concerned citizen. If your elected Senator or Representative is already a cosponsor, please thank them for their support and ask them to put this as one of their top priorities. You can check the status of your elected officials at the following links: for the Senate Bill (SB. 846): https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S846/Cosponsor; for the House Bill (HB. 1331/1337): https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/H1331/Cosponsor.
For more information the Boston Globe recently wrote a compelling editorial in support of the Higher Education Bill, arguing its passage is “the right thing to do.” WBUR also covered the hearing at the State House. You can also visit our directory on our Legislative Action Center to track how the bill is doing at any time. https://mdsc.org/centers-of-excellence/legislative-action-center/