Bill approved in Arizona gives universities parameters for documenting disabilities

State Legislative Assembly

An estimated 24% of adults in Arizona have a disability

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By Maria Garcia | Special for Freelancers

A new law in Arizona makes it easier for students to have their disabilities recognized by universities and colleges.

“In high school when I was diagnosed with multiple chronic conditions I had a guidance counselor who was amazing and when I got to college I realized I didn’t have that person anymore. support,” said Carly Wolf, founding executive of Sun. Devils for Accessible Education at Arizona State University.

Wolf was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic tissue disorder that affects his skin, joints and blood vessels, his primary diagnosis.
Wolf is a sophomore studying justice with a minor in organizational leadership.

“I’m incredibly passionate about civil rights issues, especially disability rights issues,” said Wolf, her main reason she started Sun Devils for Accessible Education.

Sun Devils for Accessible Education is an advocacy organization to promote accessibility for Arizona State University students that began in January 2021. The organization hosts events with guest speakers, as well as mindfulness and Sport.

“What we did was we brought in some of the students from the Student Accessibility and Learning Center and they talked about how to get housing, how to talk to teachers about needing housing, what has been very helpful for our members,” said Wolf. .

Students are intimidated by professors in many cases on how to get suitable accommodation. Wolf knows from experience how important support is to success in higher education.

“It’s difficult but not impossible,” she said.

To help overcome some of these hurdles, Wolf points out that State Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, sponsored Bill 2031, which establishes acceptable student-provided documentation that a university or college community must agree to document a disability.

The bill was signed into law on June 6.

“A lot of the time it’s about proving to a college or university that someone has a disability and that can sometimes be expensive,” Udall said.

Under HB 2031, a person can provide documentation showing that they have completed an Individualized Education Program, commonly referred to as an IEP, in accordance with the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act.

Community colleges or universities may also request additional documents that already had an IEP but were deemed ineligible for services. Documentation may include a 504 plan, which is information describing the services or accommodations provided to the individual, a service plan or record from a private school, local education agency , from a public education agency or higher education institution, an evaluation of a relevant accredited professional finding that the student has a disability, and documentation of a disability due to service in uniformed services according to HB 2031 preview.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.4 million adults have a disability in Arizona, which equates to 24% or 1 in 4 adults in Arizona.

Gina Schuh was 18 when she suffered a spinal cord injury following a car accident. She is quadriplegic and requires morning and evening care, but is independent during the day. Schuh received physical therapy and did not drive a car for two years after his accident.

Although she needed intensive care, Schuh continued her university education. She majored in political science at Arizona State University, graduated in 2011, then went to Arizona Summit Law School and graduated in 2013, which then closed in 2018 due to his probation by the American Bar Association.

“At ASU, I had a lot of resources and people who could relate, I thought they did a great job,” Schuh said.

Schuh asked for accommodations at law school because every minute counts, and it wasn’t as accommodating as ASU.

“I had to fight Arizona Summit to make the doors accessible and I had to hire a lawyer and threaten to sue, isn’t it ironic that this happened at law school?” Schuh said.

Editor’s note: Maria Garcia is a journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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