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I work for an agency providing workforce readiness training, including preparation for taking a GED. One of our clients has recently come to terms with her reading difficulties. She wants to take her GED and is having difficulty due to what sounds like dyslexia and/or related issues.

Does the legal system mandate the provision of services to adults or what avenues would you suggest to pursue to get her the assistance she needs, now that she is ready and willing to face her difficulties. It seems like she could use a reading specialist to help her learn coping strategies. Thank you for your help with this matter.

Dear David:

Your question addresses the rights that adults with disabilities have in respect to receiving services and/or accommodations in order to be able to successfully participate in taking the GED. You can find excellent information about the process for requesting accommodations on the GED at the exclusive LD Online article, Taking the GED Tests: Requesting Accommodations. Neal Sturomski (2007) provides a detailed guide to the process of seeking accommodations on the GED test.

By law, if an individual is able to document that they have a disability which impacts on their ability to take tests such as the GED, without the benefit of accommodations, they may submit documentation of their disability and the need for accommodations. It is then up to the testing agency whether they will be granted an accommodation. If the accommodation is denied, each agency has an appeal procedure for reconsidering those decisions.

However, your question addresses more broadly whether an adult with a learning disability has the right to receive remedial services prior to taking the test in order that their learning disability can be mitigated to a certain degree that they are successful to taking the test. Unfortunately, the right to special education remedial services are limited to individuals aged 3-21, or who have graduated from high school, whichever comes first.

There is no national policy or funding procedure which would provide for an entitlement to remedial tutoring to address learning disability in an adult, whether previously diagnosed or simply inadequately remediated. Under some circumstances, an individual with disability may qualify for some forms of funding through the Federal Government, open through SSI, or through the state through rehabilitation services or human services programs, which potentially could provide some assistance to these types of remedial services.

Typically, however, funding for adult services is geared to job and life skills, rather than to remediation of reading and writing problems. On the other hand, at least in many major cities, there are not-for-profit organizations that do provide literacy services for those who have reading, writing and math difficulties. You can search for such a program at ProLiteracy Worldwide. These services are offered through the private sector and are not based on a legal entitlement.

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