Shirley Stone and the late Elma Gerwin, both of LITERACYWORKS, began using specialized approaches a number of years ago with adult learners who exhibited characteristics of learning disabilities to enhance ease of learning and learning success. They compiled a document titled “Learning Strategies” for auditory, visual and tactile, learning styles. This was developed under a grant from the NLS and distributed to literacy programs in 1996. These compiled approaches consisted of strategies for learners with varying learning styles associated with auditory, visual or tactile learning for promoting learning success in the areas of spelling, writing and reading.
In addition to direct instruction in skills, adults with learning disabilities and probably all literacy students need to “learn about learning” (Bingman, 1989). Efficient learners actively employ various strategies to assist them to organize and store incoming information while people with learning difficulties use insufficient and ineffective strategies for learning.
Metacognitive processes are employed by efficient learners that involves the awareness of the purpose of reading, ability to construct meaning from what is read, distinguish the important parts of text by knowing where to focus attention, ability to monitor comprehension and have internalized strategies for adjusting pace and attention level, (Bingman, 1989).
Individuals with learning difficulties often employ the wrong strategy for a given task therefore it is important to determine what strategic approaches individuals apply when working at a task. Assessment procedures that focus on how someone is attempting to recall information (what strategies are being used) and not simply on how much is remembered will give important clues to why the individual is experiencing difficulties.
These approaches for determining the most effective individual specific specialized strategies based on learning styles have been used at LITERACYWORKS with success while working with adult learners whose learning styles are most receptive to these particular approaches.
Assistive technology includes a whole area of high and low technology devices designed to increase the independence of learners with learning disabilities by enabling them to compensate for deficits and enhance self-confidence.
High tech devices are usually electronically sophisticated and mainly computer based. Some examples of assistive devices are: