Literacy programs are as diverse as the clientele they serve. While some programs are learner-centered, others are competency-based or job-centered. The needs of adult learners are as diverse as the available programming and each individual learner seeks out a program with unique goals, interests and needs. Literacy practitioners must be versatile to meet the diverse needs of the learners for whom they provide services. Literacy practitioners are faced with limited funding and scarce resources to meet the needs of their diverse clientele.
The task of meeting learner needs is compounded when learners are adults with learning disabilities. Individuals‘ learning differences are as unique as their personal goals, interests and needs. A better understanding of adults with learning disabilities is fundamental for equipping practitioners with the knowledge and tools they need to enhance success among these learners and ultimately meet the goals of the adult basic education and literacy program organization.
“There is a great need for literacy programs to have this (diagnostic) service for learners. Learners will have increased success & teachers will be able to identify needs and respond well to them”
A new definition of learning disabilities was adopted by Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC), January 30, 2002. (See Appendix E for the complete definition.) This definition is based on solid scientific research across Canada over a six-year period involving specialists from neuropsychological, educational psychology, law, special education, nursing and genetics. The purpose of this new definition is to generate a more educated and research-based understanding of learning disabilities. It is hoped that widespread adoption of this new definition will open doors to earlier and more appropriate interventions, lead to more equitable and appropriate treatment in schools, post secondary institutions and the workplace that will prevent individuals with learning disabilities from living on the margins of society.
Some important factors of the research associated with this new definition are that learning disabilities are life-long; they are neurologically- and genetically-based and they affect all areas of life, not just education (LDAC, 2002).
“Learning Disabilities” refer to a number of disorders, which may interfere with the acquisition and use of oral language (listening, speaking, understanding); reading (decoding, phonetic knowledge, word recognition, comprehension); written language (spelling and written expression); mathematics (computation, problem solving) and may also affect organizational skills, social perception, social interaction and perspective taking (LDAC, 2002).