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Support Reintroducing and Passing the Reducing Barriers to Learning Act

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Who are we?
We are a group of students from Saginaw Valley State University's Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program. We are petitioning to reintroduce and pass the Reducing Barriers to Learning Act. 

What is Occupational Therapy?
First, let us start with explaining what occupational therapy is. The American Occupational Therapy Association states that occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people from all across the lifespan to participate in tasks they want to and need to do through the "therapeutic use of everyday activities", called occupations (AOTA, n.d.). In other words, we get you back to doing what matters to you.

Occupational Therapy in the schools.
Occupational therapy is a very diverse field, working with a variety of ages and diagnoses, in a variety of settings. In the school setting, occupational therapists assist children with their daily tasks, from working on their fine motor skills, to working on in-class behavior and transitions to tasks. Occupational therapy is there to help children to fully participate in social and school settings.

Reducing Barriers to Learning Act 2015.
The purpose of the bill is to reduce barriers to learning by “establishing an Office of Specialized Instructional Support in for the Department of Education and providing grants to State educational agencies” (Civic Impulse, 2017). It aims to rework the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to allow similar competing grants to states for two purposes: “(1) to establish or expand specialized instructional support services and programs at the state level that are designed to provide technical assistance, coordination, and support to specialized instructional support services and programs addressing barriers to learning within local educational agencies and individual schools; and (2) to hire and support specialized instructional support services coordinators to provide such assistance, coordination, and support” (Civic Impulse, 2017). The passing of this bill would allow a variety of services, including therapeutic, counseling, and educational services, to work with students, providing support and promoting overall success (AOTA, 2017).

History and Origins of the Bill.
The bill was first introduced to Congress on August 3rd, 2007 by Representative David Loebsack. David Loebsack has served as the representative for Iowa’s second congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since January of 2007 (Civic Impulse, 2017). Since first introducing the bill, it has been introduced four other times (2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015), with the most recent being in 2015 (Civic Impulse, 2017).  Since the most recent introduction, five cosponsors have signed on the bill as well, including Representative Jim McDermott, Representative Raul Grijalva, Representative  David Price, Representative Joyce Beatty, and Representative Adam Smith (, n.d.).

Current Status of the Bill.
The most recent introduction of this bill was completed by David Loebsack and Jim McDermott and occurred during a congressional session on May 15, 2015. It was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce by the House of Representatives. On November 16th, 2015, the House Committee of Education and the Workforce referred the bill to the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education. Although it is was passed around, the bill was never enacted and died in Congress (, n.d.).

 How it impacts OT.
By passing this bill, it provides an even greater opportunity for occupational therapy to provide the specialty services in schools that some children need in order to reduce barriers to their education. Many schools are already on such limited budgets already that they are unable to afford specialized support services on their own. This bill provides direct grants and funding aimed specifically at obtaining these services in the schools that need it most. If we have the opportunity, why not give our children the best tools we can to help them succeed to their fullest potential?

How can I help?
By signing this petition, you are helping to make your voice heard to reintroduce and pass the Reducing Barriers to Learning Act. You can also write to your state representative and tell them how important this bill is to approve! To find the representative for your state's area, you can go here. Say YES to the Reducing Barriers to Learning Act and say YES to a brighter future for children! 


114th Congress (2015-2016): Reducing Barriers to Learning Act of 2015. (2015, November 16). Retrieved from

About Occupational Therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved from

American Occupational Therapy Association. (n.d.). About Occupational Therapy. Retrieved from

American Occupational Therapy Association. (n.d.). Congressional legislation- reducing barriers to learning act of 2015. American Occupational Therapy Association. Retrieved from

Civic Impulse. (2017). H.R. 2378 — 114th Congress: Reducing Barriers to Learning Act of 2015. Retrieved from (n.d.).  H.R.2378 - Reducing Barriers to Learning Act of 2015.  Retrieved from

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