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dis/abilities and learning disabilities issues

This page includes resources for learners with learning difficulties/disabilities, and includes resources for learners who are Deaf, blind or visually impaired, or affected by developmental disabilities.  As well, the site lists resources for Rhode Island learners.

Some sites, which address issues across ability areas, are listed in the section devoted to learning difficulties and disabilities.  As well, sites addressing technology and its applications are included.

recently added resources:

Disability Rights Rhode Island formerly Rhode Island Disability Law Center

Accessibility and Inclusivity in Language Education by Andrea Mehringer

Can You See Me Now? Meet Deaf America—a culture, a class, and a choice by Stefany Anne Golberg, from The Smart Set  September-October 2011

Minnesota Adult Basic Education (ABE) Disability Training and Support

Learning Disabilities resources from the Florida Literacy Coalition

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Assisting Refugees with Disabilities Program : Resource Guide for Serving Refugees with Disabilities
available at (PDF) Guide, written for refugee case managers and those serving refugees with disabilities, includes 139 pages of information about resources for serving adults and children with disabilities,   housing for refugees with disabilities, assistive technology, medical resources, citizenship and disability, benefits for refugees with disabilities and more. 

Easy News –  
resource from the UK containing modified versions of current events; useful models and examples for learners anywhere.

Fieldnotes on Learning Disabilities Vol. 17, No. 2 (Spring 2008)(PDF document fn172.pdf;

National Post-School Outcomes Center -  Tools and resources to assist states in collecting and utilizing data on postsecondary education and employment status of youth with disabilities.

Program Quality Indicators for Adult Education Programs, Program Quality Indicators for Volunteer Literacy Programs and  Program Quality Indicators for TANF Agencies? all edited by Donna S. Sherman. available here in PDF; for Word format, see below.
Reviewed by over forty practitioners and based on the Bridges to Practice Indicators of High Quality Service for Adults with Learning Disabilities, these program quality indicators can be used to plan for long-term program improvement in serving adults with learning disabilities. Use these program quality indicators with the Bridges to Practice guidebooks and training. Requests for copies of the indicators in Word format should be addressed to Kaye Beall at

accommodations process for LD learners in Rhode Island

Helping Adults with Learning Disabilities in Rhode Island

The RI Department of Education's sponsorship of screening processes for accommodations for adult with learning disabilities has ended.  A working group of practitioners has shared its recommendations for practice with adults with learning difficulties.  Those recommendations have been removed from the web site.

Resources in Rhode Island

RI Vocational Rehabilitation Services -

ReFocus Inc - non-profit human service agency serivng adults with differing physical and developmental needs

E.N.O.B.L.E. - ENabling Opportunity By Lifelong Education.  E.N.O.B.L.E. began because a group of educators and adults with disabilities recognized the special challenges that students with developmental disabilities face in furthering their education, whether it is to continue onto a college course or to learn the basic skills for employment. E.N.O.B.L.E. is dedicated to assisting individuals with developmental disabilities achieve their goals, whether by direct assistance or by acting as a support group or even as an advocate for those facing these challenges. E.N.O.B.L.E. is staffed by volunteers who share our goal of enabling individuals to receive the education they need and want lead a more fulfilling life.

Rhode Island Association of the Deaf - dedicated to bettering the Civic, Economic, Social, Academic and Recreational opportunities of members of the community we serve.

RI Office of Rehabilitation Services - information about programs and services for Rhode Islanders with disabilities.

Disabilities resources - another listing of resources in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing - state agency providing "innovative leadership in public policy, advocacy, service delivery and accessibility throughout the Ocean State. RI CDHH ensures opportunities for every deaf and hard of hearing person to become an empowered and contributing citizen."

Rhode Island Department of Human Services Learning Disabilities Project - "a unique initiative in the Department of Human Services that dedicates staff from the Office of Rehabilitation Services and the Family Independence Program to serve individuals with learning disabilities. This collaborative relationship identifies parents on cash assistance with learning disabilities, provides the necessary accommodations and vocational training programs in order for those individuals to become gainfully employed and independent."  Learn more about it and voice your support of its important work.

Basic information about Bridges to Practice, the information on which much of RI's LD Partnership team trainings is based, is available at The Partnership has worked since 1999 for systemic change in improving access to and the services available to adults with learning disabilities.

Bridges to Practice  an initiative of the the National Institute for Literacy

Rhode Island School for the Deaf including links to resources for Deaf and hearing learners.

University Affiliated Program at Rhode Island College (UAP) / Paul V. Sherlock Center- Programs to support meaningful participation of individuals with disabilities in school, work and the community.

learning and dis/abilities resources on line

Access for all - adult literacy, reading, writing, listening and speaking curriculum, standards and level descriptors along with resources for working with adults with a range of learning dis/abilities.

Eliminating Ableism in Education
, by Thomas Hehir (full text article, Harvard Educational Review)

Abstract  In this article, Thomas Hehir defines ableism as “the devaluation of disability” that “results in societal attitudes that uncritically assert that it is better for a child to walk than roll, speak than sign, read print than read Braille, spell independently than use a spell-check, and hang out with nondisabled kids as opposed to other disabled kids.” Hehir highlights ableist practices through a discussion of the history of and research pertaining to the education of deaf students, students who are blind or visually impaired, and students with learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia. He asserts that “the pervasiveness of . . . ableist assumptions in the education of children with disabilities not only reinforces prevailing prejudices against disability but may very well contribute to low levels of educational attainment and employment.” In conclusion, Hehir offers six detailed proposals for beginning to address and overturn ableist practices.
Throughout this article, Hehir draws on his personal experiences as former director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education
Programs, Associate Superintendent for the Chicago Public Schools, and Director of Special Education in the Boston Public Schools. (pp. 1-32)

ADDvance- An online resource for women and girls with Attention Deficit Disorder

Adults with Learning Disabilities - ERIC Digest

African American Adolescents and Adults with Learning Disabilities
- An overview of assessment issues by Noel Gregg, Ph.D. Rebecca S. Curtis, M.S., CRC Stacia F. Schmidt, B.A. Editor, The University of Georgia/Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation

AIDTAC - American Indian Disability Technical Assistance Center

Applications of Participatory Action Research with Students who Have Disabilities  - 2003 ERIC Digest (PDF format available here)

Archie Willard - Learning to read (youtube video)

BEST PRACTICE AND INNOVATIONS: LEARNING DISABILITIES Ontario Literacy Coalition, Spring 2001.  Overview of learning disabilities, examples of successful practice and more.

Can Do! An ability focused web site dedicated to helping all people develop a "can-do" attitude and approach to life... no matter what the obstacles. While the site tends to provide resources for children, its focus on ability is worth considering in terms of working with learners of any age.

The Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work is a Canada-wide network of organizations and individuals. Our mission is to promote and support meaningful and equitable employment of people with disabilities. As innovators and agents of change, we build partnerships, develop skills, share knowledge and influence attitudes.

Dawn Canada - DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN) is a national organization controlled by and comprised of women who self identify as women with  disabilities. We are from all backgrounds  and all disabilities.

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities - coalition of national disability organizations advocating for national public policy that ensures the self determination, independence, empowerment, integration and inclusion of people with disabilities. - information on US Federal programs, services and resources.

Disabilities Rights Advocates - DRA seeks to ensure dignity, equality and opportunity for people with disabilities

Disabilities Resources from Capitol Region Educational Council's Curriculum Clearinghouse.

DISABLED PEOPLE AND ACCESS OPPORTUNITIES INTO HIGHER EDUCATION - James M Palfreman-Kay. Paper presented at Higher Education Close Up, an international conference from 6-8 July 1998 at University of Central Lancashire, Preston. [from the Introduction] This research investigates the experiences of dyslexic and deaf students enrolled on access programmes at colleges of further education that are affiliated with De Montfort University... [and conclusion] Raising and promoting the issue of disability awareness should help to promote the idea of inclusion and unity within the student body. This will ultimately help the disabled adult to feel more on an equal level within education and society.

Disability Studies in Education - [DSE] is a growing field seeking to increase visibility and influence in many areas of educational research and practice.

The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education - provides access to professional literature, information, and resources on the education and development of individuals of all ages who have disabilities and/or who are gifted.

ESL Instruction and Learning Disabilities, a digest from the National Center for ESL Literacy Education (NCLE) by Robin Schwarz and Lynda Terrill is available at
NCLE is also unveiling a new feature: a resource collection. The title of this first collection is Learning Disabilites and Adult ESL and is posted at The Resource Collection contains articles, reports, books, websites, organizations, electronic discussions, policy materials, ERIC documents, and other resources that address the featured topic.

A Guide to Learning Disabilities for the ESL Classroom Practitioner - Christine Root Harvard University, TESL-Electronic Journal, Vol. 1 No. 1, April 1994. 

Job Accommodation Network - international toll-free consulting service that provides information about job accommodations and the employability of people with disabilities. JAN also provides information regarding theAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Inclusive Literacy - annotated listing of resources appropriate for learners with intellectual/developmental challenges. Compiled by Richard Lockert, Resource Developer, SARC Literacy Needs Project

The International Dyslexia Association

Landmark college - including web sites that provide useful information concerning learning difficulties.

Learning disabilities and  Spanish-Speaking Adult Populations: The Beginning of a Process  - [to be downloaded in Word ] report on the national project associated with developing validated screening tools for learning disabilities for Spanish speaking adults.   The project involves the development of a consensus diagnostic procedure for LD in Spanish speaking adults and the field testing of screening tools for that population.  The second part of the process will be conducted through field tests during the year 2001 in California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico,
Virginia, New York and Massachusetts. -- Glenn Young OVAE/DAEL  project lead

Learning disAbilities Resources - Dr. Richard Cooper

Learning outside the Lines - astonishing first book by two former Brown university students about alternative learning paradigms.

read more about Jonathan Mooney and David Cole

LD Homepage - Seattle-King County Private Industry Council

LD Online- while addressing needs of children with learning disabilities, the site also has useful resources for adults

LD Pride Online - Liz Bogod designed this site as "an interactive online community, complete with a bulletin board, online site evaluation form, guest book and even live chat support."  There is also a page addressing issues for Deaf learners as well.  The site moves the notion of pride beyond self-esteem and explores ideas and concerns shared by many LD adult learners.

Learning Disabilities Association of California

Learning to Achieve Research-Based Resources and Professional Development to Increase Achievement of Adults with Learning Disabilities Learning Learning to Achieve is a suite of resources designed to build teacher effectiveness in providing instruction for adults with learning disabilitiesand includes research-based resources and professional development materials available for self-study or trainer-led events.

LINCS resources for learners with disabilities

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 19:46:44 -0500 (EST)

Although the National ALLD Center has officially closed its doors, the Academy for Educational Development in Washington, DC is handling the dissemination of National ALLD Center publications for the present. Persons interested in the publication on ESL and LD, or on other ALLD publications, should call the following number in Washington, DC: 202-884-8186.

-Mary Ann Corley Director, Lindy Boggs National Center for Community Literacy Loyola University New Orleans (504) 864-7081 <>

Lindamood-Bell - founded by the authors of programs that develop the sensory-cognitive processes that underlie reading, spelling, language comprehension, math, and visual motor skills. Process-Based education™ programs are for individuals ranging from severely learning disabled to academically gifted?ages 5 years through adult.

The National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) - national information dissemination, technical assistance and referral center specializing in the field of arts and disability, dedicated to promoting the full inclusion of children and adults with disabilities into the visual-, performing-, media, and literary-arts communities. Resource directories, annotated bibliographies, related links and conferences serve to advance artists with disabilities and accessibility to the arts.

National LINCS Literacy and Learning Disabilities Special Collection - information on issues affecting adults with learning disabilities and their families, as well as literacy practitioners and other human resource service providers who work with these persons.  Much of the preparation for this collection was completed by the National Center for Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities between 1994 and 1999. From time to time the collection will also include information relating to adults with other disabilities (such as vision and hearing impairments or physical disabilities).

National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) .

Ouch! - The BBC's website "that reflects life as a disabled person. It's not here as a resource or a help shop; it's more about life, living, creativity, community, humour and the wider view. There are many fantastic websites that     offer huge banks of information and we didn't want to  duplicate. However, access and rights are very important to us and are at the heart of what we do.  Our main aim is to reflect experiences, thoughts and give alternative slants on all things big and small that are important to disabled people. We recognise that disabled people have been upset at the way they've been portrayed  over the years, so we're hoping to obliterate the preciousness and downright weirdness of some portrayals and tap into reality, moving the debate forward a few, um, inches. "

Disabilities resources from the National Adult Literacy Data Base/COPIAN) - access to resources for learners with varying physical and developmental abilities.

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) -  OSEP's Technical Assistance & Dissemination Network

Wilson Language Training, including information about the Wilson Reading System, used to help many adults with learning disabilities learn to read.

Glenn Young: Consulting Services on Learning Disabilities - Focus on Adult Issues

Core Concepts in Universal Design for Learning - "Universal Design for Learning (UDL) draws upon and extends principles of universal design... Designing for the divergent needs of special populations increases usability for everyone. The curb cut is a classic example. Although they were originally designed to help those in wheel chairs negotiate curbs, curb cuts ease travel for those pushing carriages, riding skateboards, pulling suitcases, or simply walking.


Ability Hub - assistive technology solutions

Adaptive Technology: Not Just for People with Disabilities

Assistive Technology Incorporated -  online information resource providing up-to-date, thorough information on assistive technologies, adaptive environments and community resources.

Georgia Assistive Technology Project (Tools for Life)

Kidsource - assistive technology for students with mild disabilities

Maxi-Aids: Products for blind, low vision, visually impaired, deaf, disabled and phsyically challenged people.  Although this is a commerical site, it comes highly recommended by a member of the RI disabilities provider network.

Moving to the visual: Technology and new literacy possibilities for the learning disabled - Chris Abbott, King's College, London

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic - learning through listening

S.A.R.A.W. Resource Manual - learning strategies for inclusion of people with disabilities, and companion to S.A.R.A.W. - an exercise workbook

Technology and Disability-Related Pages: from PlaneMath.

Technology info, tips, frequently asked questions you can use from the Disabled Women's Network Ontario

excerpted from the NIFL LD list serv (archived at )

... a while back ...Glenn Young wrote an impassioned response to a list member's query about whether it does any good, or makes any difference, to have a student identified as having a learning disability. I was replying to his comments because this issue is addressed in the Bridges to Practice materials and I am interested in this wonderful project ... Here in New York State, we are using Bridges with adult educators in an attempt to make them aware of the "difference in the difference."

Learning differences are, of course, something we are aware of and plan for when planning instruction. Good instruction is designed to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom, so we try to plan for variety in our instruction, and variety in our teaching activities. The learning differences, whether we consider these learning styles, personality styles, or the numerous "ways of knowing" that have received so much publicity recently, are still just that - learning differences. What makes the difference into a disability is spelled out in the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities definition of a learning disability which the authors of the Bridges material chose to use in Book 1, and that is what Glenn was referring to, if I read his remarks correctly. I would like to quote fom the book: "Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by SIGNIFICANT difficulties (my caps) in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities...."

Bridges to Practice is designed to assist adult educators, who have little or no background in learning disabilities, as they try to understand the definition of disabilities, the characteristics of disabilities, and the identification of disabilities. It also discusses the importance of identification of LD for purposes of legal accommodations for the GED exam, or for employment purposes. The authors recognized that not all adult students who may have a disability will seek a legal diagnosis. What is important is that adult educators be aware of the need to recognize learning differences as differences, but disabilities as disabilities, which interfere significantly with major life activities. If it appears that an adult student may have a learning disability, the educator needs to know what to do, where the resources are, and how to explain this to the student. If we only talk about learning differences, we may be guilty of not informing an adult of the possibility for additional services for which s/he is eligible. This distinction can make the difference between whether the adult can receive funding for training or can use assistive devices for education or work. While teachers may not think that the label will make a significant difference in how they teach an adult, the adult may be relieved to learn that the learning problems s/he is experiencing may have an explanation that can, in the very least, improve the adult's self-image and make the lengthy education process more understandable and less frustrating. My teaching and training efforts are planned to meet the various learning needs of the students or professionals who are in my classes, but if I suspect that a learning need appears to be unmet through good teaching practices, I consider it my professional responsibility to recognize this. Once recognized, I need to be able to understand what the next logical steps should be for the learner and myself, and I need to be able to explain these steps to the learner. I also need to understand how a legal diagnosis is made and what the implications are for the learner and the educational system of which s/he is a part. For these reasons, I need to advocate for a clear understanding about the need for clear definitions of "difference" and "disability." Once the entire field understands the difference/disability vocabulary, we will have made the progress I referred to in my earlier posting..

Patricia Ewins Learning Disability Specialist Coordinator, Program for Adult Achievement University of Hawai'i -- Leeward Community College 96-045 Ala Ike, Pearl City, HI 96782 Phone: (808) 455-0421 Fax: (808) 455-0471

resources for people affected by developmental disabilities

Active Living Alliance/Alliance de vie active - for Canadians with disabilities, including resources for all, such as Words with Dignity, a guide to language that helps and language that doesn't.

Minds Wide Open - arts site for developmentally disabled adults; workshop and other activities with the goal of 'embracing and exploring human diversity through collaborative community art experiences for everyone. Our intent is empowerment of individuals by uniting the community through the arts.' (Minds Wide Open no longer exists, but some information about it is available via

Resources for Teachers of Basic Skills - Lesson plans, software, and links to other resources for teachers of people with developmental disabilities.
(This site may also be useful for teachers of basic adult literacy, children, and people learning ESL.) by Bill Straub

resources for learners who are Deaf

Deaf culture and domestic violence - multiple resources and articles.

Deaf linx
- resources and guides for the Deaf community

Deafie's World - a Personal Record: What it Means to Be Deaf, by Carl Brown, A.S.L. Instructor/Consultant

HandSpeak: A Sign Language Dictionary Online - fully indexed, ASL visual dictionary with additional resources about Deaf language and culture. - note - this site is not linking properly; other links to sign language sites here:

Overview: Hearing Loss and Deafness from ThinkSelf Minnesota Deaf Adult Education & Advocacy

Questions and Answers about Deafness and Hearing Impairments in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act - from The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Violence in the Lives of Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing - information regarding the experiences and needs of individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing and victims/survivors of domestic and/or sexual violence. (also see this page for more general information about dealing with violence)

Web Resources on Deafness - from the Ohio LRC site, "found through the National Institute for Literacy - Learning Disabilities listserv, LINCS on deaf literacy, and through our own personal research. They are categorized according to interests and are in alphabetical order.

resources for learners who are blind or visually impaired

American Foundation for the Blind - rich resource, including information pertaining to education.  Read about Bridging the Gap, a train-the trainer event that brought together adult literacy and vision/rehabilitation workers

American Printing House for the Blind

vision, literacy and practice: adult educators' mini-grant projects addressing issues of vision and adult learning - projects undertaken during  'Bridging the Gap - Literacy and Vision workshops held in November, 2003.

Family Connect - site for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments

Blindmath., a discussion list. This group is a place where interested persons can discuss all issues related to blindness and math. Topics for discussion include (but are not limited to) sources for accessible texts, information about tactile and auditory graphing programs, suggestions for insuring that math lectures are accessible to blind students, and strategies used by blind math instructors. Anyone with an interest in this topic is free to join this group and contribute to the discussions. The list is moderated by Angie Matney.:  To subscribe to the list, either go to: or send  e-mail to: and put the word subscribe in the subject line of the message.

Blindness Resource Center - a service of the New York Institute for Special Education

Canadian National Insttute for the Blind

The Carroll Center for the Blind, in Newton, Massachusetts.  Services and resources for people with visual impairments and those who work with them.

Description Key - Description is the verbal depiction of key visual elements in media and live productions. Also known as “audio description” or “video description,” the description of media involves the interspersion of these depictions with the program’s original audio.  The Described and Captioned Media Program has partnered with the American Foundation for the Blind to forge guidelines to equal access for students with vision loss: the Description Key: Guidelines for the
Description of Educational Media. The Description Key guidelines intended for new and experienced describers, description agencies, media producers and
distributors, and others who want to make educational media more accessible.  Go to for this valuable resource.  And to connect   DCMP may be a new resource for you. To  learn more about their extensive description resources available to
teachers and parents, check out DCMP Web site for free-loan educational accessible media needs.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS); The Library of Congress   [searchable site]

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic National Headquarters

Rhode Island Office of Rehabilitation Services: Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired - including resource lists (e.g. math materials) and links to numerous related resources.

Teaching English to Immigrants and Refugees who are Blind and Visually Impaired: How do you do it? - by Sylvie Kashdan (from the Braille Forum, October, 2002)

last updated February 6, 2023

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