Skip to Content
Home | news | Press Releases

Press Releases

Dingell, Schiff Lead Colleagues in Calling on DOJ and Department of Education to Strengthen Protections for Students with Disabilities

Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-06) and Adam Schiff (CA-30) today led 13 of their House colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona and Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Biden Administration to promptly issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to improve Section 504 regulations to strengthen and protect the rights of students with disabilities.

“Since the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, guidance on its application and the responsibilities of those it governs has not kept up with technological advances, particularly new tools that can be utilized by students with disabilities to access education through reasonable accommodations,” the lawmakers write. “Failure to modernize these rules has led to ambiguity in the application of protections under Section 504, denial of reasonable accommodations, and barriers to students with disabilities accessing education.
“The impacts of failing to update Section 504 are astounding in terms of its negative effects on college students. Nearly twenty percent of college students identify as having a disability, but twenty-five percent will leave college after just one year and only forty percent of students with disabilities earn their degrees after six years,” the lawmakers continue. “According to the National Center for Education Statistics, thirty-seven percent of students with disabilities at two-year colleges and fifteen percent at four-year colleges reported that they did not receive accommodations. More than half of the 6,467 disability-related complaints received by the Department of Education in FY2022 were related to free appropriate access to public education.”
“The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) must issue the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for updated guidance on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” the lawmakers conclude. “This updated guidance will help to eliminate ambiguity in the 50-year-old regulations that protect students with disabilities and remove barriers to their education.”
View the full text of the letter here

The letter is supported by The Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD). “The Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) is thrilled that Representatives Debbie Dingell and Adam Schiff are leading their colleagues in the House of Representatives to call for updated guidance on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973! Section 504 is at the core of ensuring that students with disabilities have fair and equal access to higher education,” said Stephan J. Smith, executive director, AHEAD. “Unfortunately, it is severely out of date and critical updates are needed to ensure that all postsecondary students can succeed. We applaud the efforts of these Members of Congress and look forward to this long-awaited progress for America's students!”

The letter is signed by Representatives Julia Brownley, Mark DeSaulnier, Sylvia Garcia, Dan Goldman, Raúl Grijalva, Sheila Jackson Lee, Dan Kildee, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Katie Porter, Raul Ruiz, David Trone, and Nikema Williams.
Back to top