Leveraging The Power

of our collective voice

DSNetwork’s strength come from 20 years of advocacy that champions equitable solutions to critical issues that impact our loved ones with Down syndrome. These solutions are created from a coalition of voices and perspectives that seek a better future for all of those touched by Down syndrome in Arizona.

Because of your support and action, DSNetwork successfully advocated in the AZ legislature to change state law A.R.S. § 36-551 so that Down syndrome becomes an eligible category under the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). This change will reduce the burden on families in the first part of the eligibility process for DDD services. 



Help support Senate Bill (SB) 1463, known as the “No Surprises Act – special education; transition services.” Down Syndrome Network has been hearing for many years that our students with Down syndrome have been forced to graduate around age 18 despite the fact that they are not ready for college or career. 

We are grateful to Senator Bennett for sponsoring this bill and shining a light on this issue. A public debate is long overdue. We agree that graduation planning should begin freshman year and that parents should have the ability to defer the diploma. We also agree that a statewide IEP would provide consistency and help our efforts to support families. We support the creation of the proposed advisory council and highly recommend that the council consult with parents and self-advocates (former students) to ensure all stakeholders are heard. 

DSNetwork supports SB 1463.

The bill would provide the following changes to support the Down syndrome community:

Requires the State Board of Education to develop transition planning standards: Federal law allows our students with disabilities to stay in school until they are 22 and our students need more time to receive the education they need to reach their full potential. The standards would provide a common framework and language for schools and families to use for planning purposes throughout their high school career.

Requires transition planning to begin freshman year: Our families need more time to plan for transition from high school. No parent should be surprised that their child is being forced to graduate before they are ready. Beginning freshman year, course and transition planning should begin and be reviewed each year. This allows time for families and students to plan for the next steps of adult life.

Authorizes the development of a statewide individualized education program (IEP): Currently all school districts and charter schools develop or procure their own IEP system at their own cost. A statewide template will provide more consistency, facilitate student transfers and simplify training and advocacy support.

This bill is being heard Wednesday, February 14 at 1pm,  in the state Senate. To learn more here is a copy of the bill. Here is a one page summary with talking points for additional reference. 

Please help us show support for the bill by:

  • Signing in on the Request to Speak (RTS) system prior to the hearing – as a reminder you do not need to speak. This system allows you to register your support for the bill remotely without having to go to the Capitol.
  • Email the members of the House Education Committee and tell them why this is important to the Down Syndrome community
Steps to access RTS and show your support.
  1. Go to: https://apps.azleg.gov/Account/SignOn to sign in with your account information (email and password)
  2. Choose “Request to  Speak” (This can be a written comment.) 
  3. Choose “New Request” in the left-hand side menu options
  4. Type in “1463” in the “Search Phrase” box.  You do not have to change any other information.
  5. At the bottom of the page, the bill should show up after you click “search”.
  6. Choose the “Add Request” button next to “SB 1463 -special education; transition services;”
  7. Choose if you are representing yourself or an organization.
  8. Choose “For” the bill – the thumbs up
  9. Choose that you do not wish to speak
  10. Add any comments you would like in support – keep them brief
  11. Click “Submit”
If you do not have an RTS Account, please reach out to your legislator directly and ask them to support SB 1463.

To signal your position on a bill in RTS, you must first enable your account in person at the Arizona State Capitol. DSNetwork will save you a trip to the Capitol and help you set up your RTS account. Please add your name to the RTS Request Form and an account will be set up and logon information will be emailed to you. 

Sample Communication to your legislator: I am (share your relation to a person with DS or why you are invested in the issue) and I am reaching out today to request your support on SB 1463, special education; transition services. As your constituent, I feel this is an important issue for me and my family and I ask for your support.

Please contact Jennifer O’Connell, Executive Director, via email at [email protected] for further details if you are interested in attending the hearing. On behalf of the DSNetwork Advocacy Committee, we thank you for your support.