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 Disability Program Navigator: Navigator Frequently Asked Questions 

21(Basic/Advanced)  How can I guide One-Stop staff to effectively serve individuals with non-visible learning disabilities? What resources are available on reasonable accommodations and assistive technology for individuals with learning disabilities?

(DPN Bi-Weekly FAQ 3-06-06 )

According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), many adults who struggle to learn are not aware that they have learning disabilities. Once they have been tested and discover that they have learning disabilities, they often report feelings of relief. They now know that their difficulties in learning and performing certain tasks are not their fault and their frustration and struggles can be attributed, at least in part, to their non-visible learning disability. They may then begin to learn more about support services, reasonable accommodations and strategies to help them to become successful in the workplace and other areas of their lives.


Learning disabilities can be experienced by people with a range of cognitive disabilities, including brain injuries (from stroke or physical trauma), developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities, as well as by veterans returning with brain injuries. One-Stop customers may convey that they think they have a learning disability, but don’t know how to deal with this during the job search process, while in school or training, or on-the-job. Or they may simply share that past employers have told them that their work pace was slow or that they did not pay enough attention to details. Other possible signs of learning disabilities that customers may share include difficulties with reading, writing, spelling, math, listening and/or thinking. However, some individuals may not realize that the difficulties they are experiencing in obtaining and/or retaining employment may be related to a learning disability. In these cases, staff may relay to a Navigator that a customer is having trouble filling out job applications, has a reluctance to take on reading or writing tasks, or has frequently misread information about jobs. While many people who do not have learning disabilities experience some of these same things from time to time, NCLD reminds us that the time for concern is when a person repeatedly encounters these types of difficulties and when these challenges have a negative impact on everyday life. If this is the case with a customer seeking employment services in a One-Stop, Navigators may guide staff to ask if the customer is interested in an evaluation for learning disabilities in order to learn strategies that can help lead to successful employment. Along with this question, staff should be encouraged to relay some of the benefits of being tested, including the following:

  • A detailed account of areas of weakness and strength.
  • Some specific strategies, including accommodations and modifications, to help perform more effectively at work, in school, and in everyday life (including assistive technology).
  • Recommendations for support services, such as counseling, vocational assessment, and job training.
  • Recommendations for instructional strategies that will be of most help to the person.
  • Civil rights protection that ensures the person’s rights to accommodations at work and in school.
  • Documentation that will help the person be an effective self-advocate.

It is important that One-Stop staff help customers understand that evaluations are not only for detecting an existing learning disability, but more importantly should provide direction for employment, education and daily living. A Qualified Evaluator should make specific recommendations for learning strategies that may be the most helpful to the person. There should be some recommendations for ways a person can compensate for, or work around, the effects of the disability, as well as possible accommodations that a person can use to be more successful and feel less frustrated in every aspect of life. Even if the evaluation results do not indicate that the person has a learning disability, he/she will at least have a better understanding of overall strengths and areas for improvement.

In addition to responding to One-Stop staff inquiries on how to approach the subject of evaluation and the benefits of being evaluated, Navigators can also pass on information about disclosure options and accommodations that can help customers with learning disabilities to fully access One-Stop services and/or perform essential functions of a job. Below is a list of some accommodation ideas that you can share with your One-Stop staff and customers. For more detailed information, examples, and resources on learning disabilities and accommodations, please refer to the RESOURCES section below.

  • Spell & grammar checking software
  • Software with highlighting ability
  • Reading Pen
  • Calculators/Talking calculators
  • Voice Output Software that highlights and reads (via a speech synthesizer) text on the computer screen
  • Speech recognition software that recognizes the user’s voice and changes it to text on the computer screen
  • Carbonless note-taking systems
  • Moving to a private office or area with less distractions
  • Books on tape
  • Tape recorded directives, messages, materials
  • Day Planners
  • Electronic organizers/schedulers

  RESOURCES:

After each web link is a brief description of the key information provided on the site.

National Center for Learning Disabilities - http://www.ncld.org/content/view/382/339/ Living with LD as an Adult http://www.ncld.org/content/view/445/389/ LDInfoZone: Gateway to LD information & resources across the nation.

Learning Disabilities Association of America - http://www.ldaamerica.org/about/index.asp Assessment, Evaluation & Literacy; Civil Rights; Workplace Issues; Post-Secondary Options; Social/Emotional Issues; Special Populations.

http://www.ldaamerica.org/aboutld/resources/index.asp Government agencies, Resource Centers, & State Resources; Free Guides & Booklets.

Learning Disabilities Worldwide - http://www.ldam.org/ Parents, Adults, Professionals, Research & Resources.

NCWD Learning Disabilities - http://www.onestops.info/article.php?article_id=47&subcat_id=15 Fact Sheet: Definition of Learning Disabilities.

National Association of Workforce Boards: Adults with learning disabilities http://www.nawb.org/asp/nawbld0.asp Information about LD & workforce issues customized for Workforce Board members, including a listing of nationally recognized speakers & trainers who specialize in adults with LD & workplace issues.

JAN - http://www.jan.wvu.edu/media/lear.htm Accommodation Ideas for Individuals with Learning Disabilities.

Learning Disabilities & Assistive Technologies - http://www.nawb.org/PRODUCTSSERVICES/NAWBProjects/DisabilityInitiative/LearningDisabilitiesInformation/EmploymentofPersonswithDisabilities/tabid/84/Default.aspx Information on specific difficulties (reading, writing, memory organization & math); Success stories of adolescents & adults using assistive technology to help them live more independently.

LD Resources - http://www.ldresources.org/index.php Multitude of LD resources & information on LD support.

The International Dyslexia Association - http://www.interdys.org/ Comprehensive forum for parents, educators & researchers to share experiences, methods & knowledge.


Note to DPNs: If you have comments, suggestions or questions relating to the above topic, please email DJ Diamond at ddiamond@ndi-inc.org . They may be added to this FAQ and the archived one on the One-Stop Toolkit website.