Learning Disability Defined

Learning Disability: The ADA defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual." The ADA lists specific learning disabilities as one possible physical or mental impairment, and learning is included as a major life activity. A learning disability is a neurologic disorder that causes difficulties in learning that cannot be attributed to poor intelligence, poor motivation, or inadequate teaching. Learning disabilities may occur in the following academic areas:

  • Language, both spoken and written (often difficulties with reading, writing and spelling); and,

  • Arithmetic (difficulty in performing arithmetic functions or in comprehending mathematical concepts).

Major life activity: Examples of major life activities include walking, sitting, standing, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and other similar activities. In particular, individuals with learning disabilities may experience requirements that may interfere with an academic setting (e.g., reading, writing, calculating).