1) What rights do I have at work as an adult with learning disabilities?
Interpretation of federal, state, and local laws is complicated! If you have a critical concern, consult a qualified attorney or other expert for a definitive answer to your question.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. An individual with a disability is a person who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
- Has a record of such an impairment; or
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
You can get more in-depth information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:
You might also be interested in the following articles and books that provide information for adults with disabilities in the workplace:
2) How can a college student or adult be tested for learning disabilities or ADHD?
The following articles give general information on how learning disabilities are identified. Some of them list national organizations that may give you specific information about testing facilities. Be aware that if diagnosis is needed for the purpose of qualifying for special services or accommodations under federal law, it is important that a specialist licensed to diagnose LD and/or ADHD completes the assessment.
To find a testing facility, ask a physician for a referral or contact the special education office of your local school system. If you live near a college or university, you can inquire about whether they have an office that provides support for students with disabilities. They may be able to administer tests there, or recommend a location that can. Finally, check the following websites:
3) How can an adult with a learning disability get accommodated to take the GED?
You may need a current diagnosis in order to take the test with accommodations. The following articles have information about educational testing for adults:
Contact the national office of the General Educational Development Testing Service (GEDTS) to find your local GED Testing Center. Information on how to request accommodations is available in a downloadable brochure called Tips for Candidates with Disabilities, which provides information for people who wish to take the GED test. The brochure lists accommodations available for people with disabilities and provides information on how to request them. Specific forms are available for people with learning and other cognitive disabilities and for people with ADHD:
There are several national organizations that can help you through this process and provide referrals to local professionals. You might want to contact the International Dyslexia Association or the Learning Disabilities Association. In addition, you can look in your local phone book for "educational testing" or "psycho-educational testing".
The LD OnLine Yellow Pages list services that might be helpful. There are also educational consultants and educational advocates that can help you through the process locally.
4) My adult daughter has a disability and is seeking employment. What should her first step be?
It is often recommended for an adult with a disability to contact her local vocational rehabilitation office. This state agency helps people with disabilities find appropriate jobs and further education. They can also provide some financial support and training, if needed. A counselor will talk with your daughter about career plans, work history, education and diagnosed disability. Some of the services that can be provided include: continuing education or specialized job training, including supplies and books; work adjustment training; tools and equipment, including assistive technology or adaptive devices/low vision aids which enable an individual to work; on-the-job training; and job placement and follow-up. A friend or family member is often welcome to accompany her to any of the meetings, if necessary. On the following site, you can find a listing of many local agencies organized by state. Click on your state and look for a Vocational Rehabilitation Agency nearby.
5) What services will be available to my child with LD once he graduates from college?
This transitional time can be particularly difficult for people with LD, because they are no longer receiving the support of special education or accommodations. At this time in your child’s life, it is very important that he understands his own strengths and weaknesses, and is able to explain his needs to others when necessary. Here is an article from the National Center for Learning Disabilities that talks about getting your learning needs met across the lifespan:
People with learning disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In work situations where your disability would put you at a disadvantage, like a certification exam or written test, you can request "modifications of policies." According to Title II of ADA, you can ask your employer for modifications like extra time or a reader. Just like in school, you will need current documentation of your disability so that people do not use this law to gain an unfair advantage.
If you have a question on a specific situation, you can call the ADA information line: 1-800-514-0301.
There are also agencies like the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) which helps people with disabilities find work, secure accommodations, or become self-employed. JAN is a free service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor.
On LD OnLine, we also have a whole section on adult issues. Since these are often quite different than the issues facing children with learning disabilities, you may want to investigate this information with your adult child.
It is important that your son knows that you are there, rooting for him and supporting him, but it is equally important that he takes steps to insure his own success.
6) My brother has a disability and is searching for a job, but I am worried that his limited abilities and low self-confidence will negatively affect his search. Can I help him in any way?
Your state's vocational rehabilitation office can be a great resource. They will be able to help your brother find the job skills and job he needs. You can search for your state office through the following link.
Social skills and self-esteem, as you know, play large roles in adult success. The following articles may interest you and your brother.
Also, check our Recommended Books section for memoirs of successful people with LD and tips on how to tap into your talent as an adult.
Support your brother as he transitions into his job, but allow him to take his own steps and experience success to increase his confidence.
Proceeds from the sale of books purchased from our recommended books section can help support LD OnLine.