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Learning Disability Module


Accomodations for Students With Learning Disabilities

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PL 93-112) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (PL 101-336) require that college students must identify themselves as a student with a disability in order to receive accommodations and services. From there, the process of identifying and receiving accommodations to provide access to course content can begin. In general, college disability service offices have processes in place to document the disability, review accommodation requests, and facilitate the provision of reasonable accommodations (Lindstrom, 2007). Accommodations should be granted to students on a case-by-case basis and reviewed each semester. There are six accommodations most frequently requested by students with disabilities at the postsecondary level: extended time for exams and assignments; separate, reduced-distraction rooms for exams; note takers; alternative media; foreign language substitution; and reduced course load (Banerjee & Brinkerhoff, 2010; Gregg et al., 2005; Lindstrom, 2007; Skinner, 2004).

Accommodation Associated Learning Difficulty
Extended time for exams and assignments Cognitive processing difficulties affecting speed of processing, cognitive fluency, academic efficiency, and working memory
Separate, reduced-distraction rooms for exams Issues with distractibility, attention, and concentration
Note takers Difficulties in auditory processing, visual-auditory attention, and/or distractibility
Alternate media Challenges in decoding, reading fluency, and/or reading comprehension
Foreign language substitution Weaknesses in memory, auditory-visual-verbal integration, phonological processing, or expressive-receptive language
Reduced course load Variability in cognitive processing abilities; anxiety; psychiatric features or a co-existing medical diagnosis

The extension of time for exams and assignments is the most frequently provided accommodation granted to students with LD (Gregg et al., 2005).



Banerjee, M., & Brinkerhoff, L. (2010, June). Mining LD and ADHD disability documentation for clues in determining eligibility for specific accommodations. Presentation at University of Connecticut Postsecondary Training Institute, Saratoga Springs, NY.

Gregg, N., Hoy, C., Flaherty, D. A., Norris, P., Coleman, C., Davis, M., & Jordan, M. (2005). Decoding and spelling accommodations for postsecondary students with dyslexia—It’s more than processing speed. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 3(2), 1-17.

Lindstrom, J. (2007). Determining appropriate accommodations for postsecondary students with reading and writing expression disorders. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 22(4), 229-236.

Skinner, M. (2004). College students with learning disabilities speak out: What it takes to be successful in postsecondary education. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 17 (2), 91-104.


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.