Intellectual Disability Advocates Push For Bill To Expand College Access

Mass State House wbz 16:9

Photo: Mario Jarjour/WBZ NewsRadio

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Massachusetts Joint Committee of Higher Education is hearing from intellectual disability advocates on legislation that would expand their community's opportunities to attend college.

The bills introduced by State Sen. Joan Lovely and State Reps. Patricia Haddad and Sean Garballey would allow people with intellectual disabilities to participate in college courses and campus life by removing barriers to higher education.

Some of those barriers include things like requirements for admission -- such as minimum GPA thresholds or a passing MCAS score.

Kate Bartlett, who has down syndrome, testified before the committee that she is glad she was "persistent" in enrolling at Middlesex Community College.

"The computer skills I learned in college were really important, and the computer skills helped me to get the job I have now," she said.

Bartlett is also a member of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, which empowers people with disabilities by "promoting self-sufficiency, community inclusion and opportunity."

"I still ran into road blocks, even for people who have met the requirements to attend college," she said. "I can't imagine the barriers that exist for students with more challenging disabilities."

Along with modifying application and enrollment requirements, legislation being introduced would also add people with disabilities to the Higher Education System Mission Statement and codify a related grant program for those individuals.

WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports.

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