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  • Writer's pictureKarla Phillips-Krivickas

New Groundbreaking Laws in Arizona Support Individuals with Disabilities

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

This year, Arizona Governor Ducey signed into law four pivotal pieces of legislation to improve the lives and opportunities of individuals with disabilities. This progress is possible because of the many fearless family members and disability rights advocates who testified on each of these bills. Their work in 2022 shows what is possible when advocates and stakeholders channel their love and commitment into meaningful collaborative work.

Just as Arizona looked to the example of 30+ states to draft its new Organ Transplant

Discrimination bill, it’s my hope that our state will inspire others with some of our trailblazing legislation.

HB 2025 on Parental Classroom Visitation Policies in Schools

Sponsor: Representative Michelle Udall

Two years ago as I was looking for a middle school for my daughter with a disability, I was shocked when multiple schools prohibited parent tours or visits to their special education classrooms. My experience is not unique, and HB 2025 addresses this barrier to parents in choosing the best schools and classrooms for their children. The bill simply requires school districts and charter school governing boards to develop and adopt–in a public meeting–publicly accessible policies that allow for visits, tours, and observations of all classrooms by parents of enrolled pupils and prospective parents, unless said tours threaten the health and safety of pupils and staff.

Learn More: Read more about my story in the blog post Decisions in the Dark.

HB 2031 on Higher Education for Individuals with Disabilities

Sponsor: Representative Michelle Udall

Last year I authored a new report for the College in High School Alliance titled, Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs for Students with Disabilities. In this process, I learned much about the difficulties students with disabilities experience in transitioning from K12 to higher education. Although they qualified for services under federal law in high school, they were required to initiate a new process with the postsecondary school to prove their disability and advocate for themselves. This shift is significant and, often, difficult.

National disability advocates have introduced the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act in Congress to help address this barrier to postsecondary learning. NCLD reports that this bill proposes to “improve the process for students who qualify for disability services by requiring colleges to accept a wider variety of forms of documentation, such as an IEP, 504 plan, notice from a doctor, or an evaluation by a psychologist.”

But Arizona didn’t wait for Congress to act. Our state was the first to pass similar legislation at home. HB 2031 lists the documentation a student may submit that Arizona public universities and community colleges must accept as satisfactory to establish that an enrolled or admitted student has a disability.

Learn More: Visit the National Center for Learning Disabilities for more about the RISE Act.

HB 2113 on Improving Access to Care for Students with Down Syndrome

Sponsor: Representative Michelle Udall

Despite Down syndrome being widely recognized as a developmental disability that impacts cognition, physical ability, communication, and social/emotional development, Arizona families often have difficulty qualifying their children with Down syndrome for services through the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities.

Families must shoulder the financial and emotional burden of proving their child has a cognitive disability through additional–and unnecessary–tests. Worst of all, care for children with Down syndrome is delayed while they await approval of their diagnosis, up to two years in some circumstances. Existing state statute defines “developmental disability” as the individual having any of the following: a cognitive disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or autism. HB 2113, adds Down syndrome to this list, making it a qualifying diagnosis for services.

Learn More: Visit the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities to learn about the current eligibility process.

HB 2659 on Discrimination Against Individuals with Disabilities Regarding Organ Transplants

Sponsor: Representative Steve Kaiser

Despite protections under federal law, there are documented instances of discrimination against people with disabilities with regard to life-saving organ transplants.

Unfortunately, it’s common for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities, like Down syndrome or autism, to be denied organ transplants. And for people with Down syndrome, this is especially terrifying since approximately half of all infants born with Down syndrome have a heart defect. HB 2659 protects individuals with disabilities by prohibiting health care providers from determining transplant eligibility and related services based solely on an individual's ability.

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