Learning Disability Module
- Learning Objectives
- Historical Perspective
- Definition of Learning Disabilities
- Types of Learning Disabilities
- Trends and Prevalence
- Success in College and Learning Challenges
- Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities
- Impact of Learning Disabilities on Social and Personal Interactions
- Perceptions and Myths
- Additional Resources
Definition of Learning Disabilities
The definition of LD has evolved over the years as knowledge and research in the field have grown, and legislation has been passed by the federal government to assure the educational rights of students with LD. The following definition taken from the 1968 definition of the National Advisory Committee on Handicapped Children (NACHC) was adopted by the U.S. Office of Education for use in the implementation of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142, 1975):
This definition of LD has remained in effect with minor word changes and is reflected in subsequent legislation (i.e., Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990, PL 101-476; Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 1997, PL 105-17; Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, PL 108-446).
Founded in 1975, the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD), a group of 12 professional organizations with interest in children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities, was created with the purpose of developing greater cooperation and understanding among its members (LD Online, n.d.). This Committee has made several observations regarding the NACHC definition of LD that are informative:
- LD is a heterogeneous group of disorders. “These disorders are realized as significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of one or more of the following functions: listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, and math abilities” (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 1991, p. 2).
- LD is generally recognized as a central nervous system dysfunction, but this does not mean that LD diagnosis can only be conducted by a medical professional. Diagnosis of LD requires assessment of psychological, educational and/or language abilities.
- LD can be accompanied by problems in self-regulation, social perception, and social interaction.
- LD cannot occur primarily due to cultural, educational, or environmental circumstances (exclusionary clause), BUT LD can occur concomitantly with other disabilities.
The NJCLD developed the following definition of LD, which was proposed in 1981 and revised in 1990. This definition can be applied to adults and is the most commonly used definition of LD today outside of the K-12 system:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (1991). Learning disabilities: Issues on definition. Retrieved from: http://www.asha.org/docs/html/RP1991-00209.html
Hallahan, D. P., & Mercer, C. D. (2001). Learning disabilities: Historical perspectives. Retrieved from http://www.nrcld.org/resources/ldsummit/hallahan.html
LDOnline. (n.d.). National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities: Member organizations. Retrieved from http://www.ldonline.org/about/partners/njcld#member
Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:
UDI Online Project. (2011). Learning Disabilities (LD) Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/learning-disability-module.