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Office of Disability Services

About Learning Disabilities


What is a Learning Disability?

Learning disabilities are difficulties related to the reception, processing, or expression of information that is not the result of lack of intelligence, past experience, or sensory difficulty. A student with a learning disability has a specific and significant achievement deficiency in the presence of adequate overall intelligence. Learning disabilities affect the ability to either interpret what is seen or heard or to link information from different parts of the brain.  These limitations are manifested as difficulties with spoken and/or written language, coordination, self control, attention, or mathematical reasoning or calculation.  Each student with a learning disability has a distinct combination of abilities and deficiencies and, therefore, a unique profile.


Accommodations for students with learning disabilities will vary according to the student and his/her disability.  Some common accommodations made for individuals with learning disabilities are providing a notetaker or allowing the student to tape record lectures, alternate text, and accommodations in testing, such as the use of a Franklin speller or calculator, extended time on tests, or allowing the test to be proctored outside of the classroom to avoid normal distractions.

Instructor Tips

  • Students who exhibit problems with reading, writing, mathematical, oral communication or study skills should be referred to the Office of Disability Services.
  • Encourage dialogue with the student to arrange accommodations.
  • Alternate text for students with print disabilities is coordinated through ODS. If a student in your class is using this accommodation, the student's texts will be provided in an alternate format.  Any lengthy handouts or readings that are required outside of the list of required texts should be provided to the student as far in advance as possible, so the text can be converted in plenty of time.  This accommodation request is included on the student's accommodation letter that should be provided to you by the student at the beginning of the semester.

Student Tips

  • If using a note-taker, you should be sure to pick up the note-taking packet from the Office of Disability Services at the beginning of every semester. Read the instructions and distribute the information to the instructor and note-taker, as needed.
  • Testing accommodations should be made with the instructor well in advance. Follow the guidelines for testing procedures as required by the Office of Disability Services. 
  • Free peer tutoring services are provided on campus through the Learning Center in Hoffman 113C. If private tutoring is desired, ODS can offer recommendations, but you are responsible for payment to the tutor.
  • The Writing Center can help you with your papers at all phases of the writing process.  It might be helpful for you to identify your disability to the peer tutors in the Writing Center to get the support you need.

Any further assistance or accommodations needed should be discussed with the Director of Disability Services.