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Current Perspectives on Learning Disabilities

ISBN: 978-0-76231-130-9, eISBN: 978-1-84950-287-0

Publication date: 1 January 2005


The ADA provides its own definition of disability. The term is defined as: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment. The phrase physical or mental impairment means: (i) Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfiguration, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; and (ii) Any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or metal illness, and specific learning disabilities.…The phrase major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working (EEOC & U.S. Department of Justice, 1991, pp. 16–18 as cited in Hishinuma & Fremstad, 1997).Apparently, persons identified with specific learning disabilities are covered under the ADA (Hishinuma & Fremstad, 1997). Grant and Grant (2002) affirmed that learning disabilities have been viewed as a perplexing category of exceptionality. Learning disabilities are marked in persons by a discrepancy between intellectual ability and actual school achievement. There are many definitions for the term learning disability. In fact, lack of commonality for defining the term has been cited as the reason for a vast difference in agreement of prevalence (Kirk et al., 2003). As Stanovich (1989) stated, “the decision to base the definitions of a reading disability on a discrepancy with measured IQ is…nothing short of astounding. Certainly, one would be hard pressed to find a concept more controversial than intelligence in all psychology” (p. 487). Even though there is a lack of common definition for learning disability, it is agreed upon that students with learning disabilities comprise the largest proportion of students receiving special education services (Kirk et al., 2003). The Federal Register (1999) has established criteria and non-criteria for identification of students with a specific learning disability. The criteria include: (a) presence of academic difficulties; (b) perceptual disabilities; (c) brain injury; (d) minimal brain dysfunction; (e) dyslexia; and (f) developmental aphasia. The non-criteria include: (a) academic problems due to visual, hearing, or motor disability; (b) mental retardation; (c) emotional disturbance; and (d) environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage (Murdick et al., 2002).


Grant, P.A., Barger-Anderson, R. and Fulcher, P.A. (2005), "IMPACT OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT ON SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES", Burkhardt, S., Obiakor, F. and Rotatori, A.F. (Ed.) Current Perspectives on Learning Disabilities (Advances in Special Education, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 183-191.



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