Serving Adults with Learning Disabilities

DEFINITIONS, LEGAL ISSUES, SCREENING AND DIAGNOSING
Training Materials for Facilitators and Participants
CACE/CAEPA Conference - Fall 1999

Prepared by: Marcie Hanson,
 Community Educational Outreach

(303) 447-3353
marciehanson@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Note: The materials used for this workshop are taken from "Bridges to Practice: A Research-based Guide for Literacy Practitioners Serving Adults with Learning Disabilities” - A project of the National Institute for Literacy

http://slincs.coe.utk.edu/special_collections/learning_disabilities/bridges-to-practice.html

HOME


AGENDA

 

 

1.      Introductions

 

Name, program, one expectation from today

Background of Bridges to Practice (BTP) and the Colorado team (page 2)

 

2.     Bridges to Practice Definition of a Learning Disability

 

 

Definition endorsed by BTP (page 3)

How components of a learning disability are manifested (pages 4-5, from BTP Book 1, pages 13-14)

When do characteristics just reviewed in various skill areas (i.e., reading writing, speaking, computation) suggest the presence of a learning disability? (small groups discuss, share with large group)

 

3.     Legal Issues, Screening, and Diagnosing

 

Positives and drawbacks to identifying a person with a learning disability (entire group discussion)

Legal issues and accommodations (page 6)

Screening and diagnosis of adults with learning disabilities (pages 7-9)

Legal Jeopardy game (page 10)

 

Bringing Literacy within Reach Screening Instrument

 

Bridges to Practice Background

 

Bridges to Practice was a series of national conferences (sponsored by the National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center, part of the Academy for Educational Development) for literacy practitioners serving adults with learning disabilities.  The Colorado team attended the conference in Atlanta, Georgia, in January and April 1999.  The bad news: there is no magic wand in serving adults with learning disabilities.  The good news: in serving learners with learning difficulties, we should do what a lot of us are already doing, but we have to do more of it and better: 

 

·       Intensive, individualized, structured, multi-sensory instruction

·       If you don’t have the resources, you need to  more networking and linking with community and national resources

·       Both the program and the teacher have to change

 

The Bridges to Practice Colorado Team

 

Bill Furney, Education Coordinator                Marcie Hanson, Director

COBALT—First Judicial District                   COBALT-Community Educational Outreach

     Probation Department                                PO Box 7957

100 Jefferson County Pkwy, Suite 2070          Boulder, CO 80306

Golden, CO 80401                                          Telephone:  (303) 447-3353

Telephone:  (303) 271-6387                           Fax Number:  (303) 839-8406

Fax Number: (303) 271-6368                         E-mail: marciehanson@yahoo.com

E-mail: wwfurney@aol.com                                                  

 

Debbie Jacobson, Instructor                            Ardith Loustalet Simons

COBALT—McLain School                            Staff Development Specialist

2001 Hoyt Street                                             2942 Skimmerhorn Street

Lakewood, CO  80215                                    Ft. Collins, CO  80526

Telephone: (303) 982-7460                            Telephone: (970) 282-7098

Fax:  (303) 982-7494                                      Fax: (970) 282-0998 (use cover page)

E-mail:  n_lambott@jeffco.k12.co.us              E-mail: ardith@altavista.net

 

Ann Miller, Director                                       Jacqueline Palmer, Director

Southwest BOCES ABE Program                   Western Slope Literacy Resource Center

PO Box 1420                                                   2577 F ˝ Road

Cortez, CO 81321                                           Grand Junction, CO  81505-1426

Telephone: (970) 565-8411                            Telephone:  (970) 245-3512  

Fax: (970) 565-1203                                       Fax: same (call ahead and tell me)

E-mail:  adulted@cortez.k12.co.us                 E-mail: jpalmer@colosys.net

 

Leecy Wise, Coordinator

Four Corners Resource Center for DE

502 S. Madison

Cortez, CO 81321

Telephone: (970) 565-1552

Fax Number: (970) 565-1203

E-mail:  awise@fone.net


Definition of Learning Disabilities endorsed by Bridges to Practice

 

Learning disabilities is a generic term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical abilities.  These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction.  Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (e.g., sensory impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbance) or environmental influences (e.g., cultural differences, insufficient, inappropriate instruction, psychogenic factors), it is not the direct result of those conditions or influences.

The National Joint Committee for Learning Disabilities (1981)

 

·       Believed to be neurological (the central nervous system) in origin, does have an organic, not psychological, cause

 

·       Spans the person’s life, therefore never “cured”; can develop coping strategies to adapt through life

 

·       Therefore, learning strategies must be portable

 

·       Includes social behavior irregularities


BRIDGES TO PRACTICE BOOK 1 PAGE 13
BRIDGES TO PRACTICE BOOK 1 PAGE 14


Legal Issues

 

·       Persons with a diagnosed learning disability (LD) have Federal protection from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

·       LD is a disability, a condition that substantially limits a major life activity, according to the ADA

·       A person with a diagnosed LD is legally entitled to accommodations in certain situations (i.e. testing).

·       Only a qualified person can diagnose a LD

·       A program is not obligated to provide formal assessment, and should not state to a person that they have a LD without an official diagnosis

·       A person must make their LD known to program, school, tester, or employer, in order to legally be entitled to receive accommodations

·       The decision to disclose a LD is solely the decision of the person with the disability

·       The decision to pursue a formal diagnosis is solely the decision of the person with the disability

·       A program must provide reasonable accommodations for the diagnosed person with a LD to have equal opportunity to service as other students (unless doing so would unduly burden program)

·       Should not ever state that you cannot help a person with a diagnosed LD because of their disability; this is like stating you cannot help a person because in he or she is in a wheelchair

·       Careful with labels – for both subjective and legal reasons

·       Get consent if selectively screening, and always make it clear that the screening provides only a possible indication of a LD (still a good idea to get consent if universally screening also)

 

Examples of Accommodations for Adults with Learning Disabilities

 

·       Extended time for completing tests

·       Books on tape

·       Reduced visual or auditory distractions, such as a private room for tests

·       Auxiliary aids and assistive technology, such as calculators, high-lighters, and computers

·       Large print materials

·       Alternative format for instructions, such as audio-taped instructions in addition to printed instructions for taking a test

·       Note takers


Screening and Diagnosis of Adults with Learning Disabilities

 

(Prepared by Bill Furney, Education Coordinator, COBALT—First Judicial District Probation Department, (303) 271-6387, wwfurney@aol.com)

 

Literacy programs may use a screening instrument to determine the likelihood of a learning disability (LD). If used as part of the intake process for all learners, programs do not need to obtain informed consent from each learner. However, if the program selectively screens individual learners, written consent must be obtained. It is important to note that screening alone does not identify whether a person has learning disabilities. Results of LD screening are used by program staff to determine whether the learner should be referred for a formal diagnosis.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of an Official Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities

 

Learners with an official diagnosis can obtain accommodations and protections necessary for success in instructional, work, and testing settings. An official diagnosis also entitles the learner to protection against discrimination and makes the learner eligible for special services and accommodations required under federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. The cost of diagnostic testing, however, can be prohibitive, and the diagnosis may not be worth the effort and resources required because it may yield few positive consequences for the learner.

 

Sources of Diagnostic Testing

 

Because few literacy programs have a psychologist on staff to conduct diagnostic evaluations, practitioners typically refer adults for services. An effective literacy program will identify professionals or agencies in its community that can assist with a comprehensive evaluation. Possibilities include public school systems, rehabilitative services including vocational rehabilitation, and mental health agencies. Within these agencies and systems there are people qualified to complete an appropriate evaluation. However, not all persons who are licensed to conduct the testing have sufficient information about adults with learning disabilities to make a diagnosis. Programs should inquire about the evaluator’s experience in the diagnosis of adults with learning disabilities before referring the learner for diagnosis.

 

Programs can assist their learners and instructors by communicating the information collected during the program’s assessment process to the evaluator. Programs should also ask the evaluator for the kind of information that would be helpful to the program in providing literacy services.


 

The Screening Process

 

Programs that selectively screen learners should have a process for determining whether and when to screen. Bridges to Practice recommends the following steps:

 

1.     Gather information about the learner. Consider:

·       work habits

·       work samples

·       informal conversations with the learner

·       learner’s comments or questions

·       medical histories that suggest developmental delays or dysfunctions

·       official records related to disabilities status

2.     Review observations with the learner by discussing the information gathered. Do not offer a diagnosis.

3.     Determine if the learner desires additional screening for learning disabilities.

4.     Select a screening instrument.

5.     Obtain informed consent and give a copy of the consent form to the learner. The consent form should contain the following information:

·       name of the screening test(s)

·       interval of time for the screening

·       purpose of screening

·       who will see the results

·       how the results will be used

·       where the protocol forms will be stored and for how long

·       the adult’s signature and the date

·       The program representative’s signature.

 

Present the Screening Results to the Learner

 

1.     Prepare a summary of the results.

2.     Review the results with the learner.

3.     Discuss “next steps” with the learner.

 

Standards for Evaluating and Selecting Screening Instruments

 

            [Since this workshop was offered, the following information was posted on “CLICK,” the Colorado discussion forum for adult educators, by Debra Fawcett, SLRC Director:

 

“A recent issue of CASAS Quarterly Report describes an instrument for screening for learning disabilities, ‘ALDS-Adult Learning Disability Screening battery.’  According to the article, most of the more than eighty currently available screening instruments reviewed by the National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center were deemed inappropriate and/or unreliable. Citing this lack of a valid reliable screening instrument, researchers at the University of Kansas (in collaboration with practitioners from a variety of agencies) developed an instrument that is" 89% accurate and takes less than 12 minutes for most participants."  Due to copyright restrictions, I can't offer copies of the materials, but I can send copies of the ALDS brochure and an order form for the materials.  You can also request information from Kaw Valley Resources, 785-331-3659 or e-mail KVRInc@yahoo.com. (Leecy Wise)]

 

Bridges to Practice recommends the following standards that have been identified as important by practitioners in the fields of literacy and learning disabilities throughout the United States.

 

Administration Standards

·       The requirements for learning to use the screening material are reasonable.

·       Guidelines regarding whether or not to refer the individual for further testing are clear and reasonable.

·       The time required to conduct the screening procedures is reasonable.

·       The screening material allows accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

 

 

Technical Development Standards

·       The screening material adequately represents the full range of characteristics associated with learning disabilities.

·       The screening material is consistent with what is currently known about learning disabilities.

·       The screening material reliably measures the individual’s learning characteristics.

·       The screening material accurately predicts who may have a learning disability.

·       The screening material accurately predicts a learning disability regardless of a person’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, or primary language.

·       Research supports the links between screening procedures and instructional materials.

 

Bridges to Practice evaluated fourteen screening instruments. Participants at the Bridges conference recommend Bringing Literacy Within Reach: Identifying and Teaching Adults with LD, published by the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. This inexpensive instrument ($25 initial cost and no usage costs) measures characteristics of learning disabilities and levels of skills (reading, writing, spelling, numeracy, and calculation) through an interview and performance tasks given by a tutor. The manual prescribes teaching strategies for skills assessed and suggestions for adapting the strategies for various learning environments. A drawback to Bringing Literacy Within Reach is that it is only available in English. However, only two of the fourteen instruments reviewed are available in another language (Spanish).

 

While screening is not the same as a formal diagnosis for learning disabilities, a program that considers the needs of persons with learning disabilities will include a component for screening. Even if a formal diagnosis is never obtained or not necessary, the information generated by the screening process can be helpful in planning appropriate instruction.


 

BRIDGES TO PRACTICE H-8 LEGAL JEOPARDY RULES
BRIDGES TO PRACTICE H-9 LEGAL JEOPARDY GAME

 


 

SERVING ADULTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Other Resources

 

 

·       HEATH Resource Center Handbook, from the National Resources for Adults with Learning Disabilities, free copies available through NIFL website: www.nifl.gov/nalld/resources

·       Some Kinds of LDs and Their Characteristics

·       Some Common Reading Difficulties and Recommendations for Intervention

·       Memory Help for Adult Students with Learning Disabilities

·       FREE Talking Books for Adult Learners

·       LD Publications Recommended by Colorado People

·       Links to Other Cool Places, LD Web sites (from www.colosys.net/click/links)

·       Roads to Learning, The Public Libraries LD Initiative (www.ala.org/roads)

·       National Institute For Literacy (NIFL) Bridges to Practice listserv (listproc@literacy.nifl.gov)

·       CLICK E-mail re: Technology for LD

·       Insights re:  Disability Law

·       Characteristics of Adults with Learning Disabilities (from Bridges to Practice Book1)

·       Characteristics Of The Adult Learner (prepared by Marcie Hanson)

·       HEATH Resource Center Handbook, from the National Resources for Adults with Learning Disabilities, free copies available through NIFL website: www.nifl.gov/nalld/resources

·       Some Kinds of LDs and Their Characteristics

·       Some Common Reading Difficulties and Recommendations for Intervention

·       Memory Help for Adult Students with Learning Disabilities

·       FREE ATalking Books@ for Adult Learners

·       LD Publications Recommended by Colorado People

·       Links to Other Cool Places, LD Web sites (from www.colosys.net/click/links)

·       Roads to Learning, The Public Libraries= LD Initiative (www.ala.org/roads)

·       National Institute For Literacy (NIFL) Bridges to Practice listserv (listproc@literacy.nifl.gov)

·       CLICK E-mail re: Technology for LD

·       Insights re:  Disability Law

·       Characteristics of Adults with Learning Disabilities (from Bridges to Practice Book1)

·       Characteristics Of The Adult Learner (prepared by Marcie Hanson)