Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes: A Shared Responsibility

As an instructor, I often find myself recording initial intake information that reveals disclosure of learning disabilities. It's usually the first document our program requires for student enrollment. Hopefully, an instructor will be completing that paperwork with them because we are valuable partners in their educational efforts moving forward. We know to dig a little deeper if the answer is affirmative, for the student's benefit and ours. Self-disclosure is important.  An instructor's attention to a learning disability disclosure is vital.

Adult education program participants usually arrive carrying a burden of academic failure that is embarrassing at best and debilitating at worst. Learning disabilities frequently go hand in hand with poor outcomes. So, I was glad to read the lengthy, detailed information your professional development included about self-disclosure, a component of three student responsibilities toward assessing accommodations. Our professional response to their disability information will provide an opportunity for us to partner in achieving successful outcomes. Accomplishing that mutual goal depends on our skills and knowledge related to many things: understanding learning disabilities, maintaining student engagement, navigating the acquisition of appropriate accommodations, preparing lessons using guidelines such as those Universal Design promotes, and providing an equitable learning experience for our LD participants. Learning disabilities are challenging, for us and for our students. Working together, we will succeed.


Hi, Margaret and Others interested in screening for LD -

Thank you for your thoughtful comment on the need to screen for LD in new learners to your program.  I'm wondering if you can tell us more about the 'initial intake information that reveals disclosure of learning disabilities'?  For me, I know that sometimes even just seeing a person's handwriting can suggest different challenges with learning that I've become familiar with after many years working in special education.  What else do you notice in your intake process?

While most adult educators are not also medical doctors or psychologists, we can still do screening for learning disabilities.  What we can't do is formally diagnose them.  That requires the expertise of medical and psychological professionals.  

In addition to the informal screenings we might do as part of our intake process, we can also use normed resources to help provide more quantified data to support a learner accessing a formal evaluation by a qualified professional.  This resource from the LINCS Resource Collection provides a sample of several screeners that you might want to check out.  Of course there are other formalized screening tools that can also be used with learners suspected of having learning disabilities.  What other tools have you used, or heard about?