relatively high levels of literacy skill. Less research is available with low-literate adults with reading and writing disabilities. The available research shows that adults experience difficulties with specific cognitive and linguistic processes involved in decoding, fluent reading of words and sentences, and reading comprehension. Students with writing disabilities experience difficulties with handwriting, spelling, syntax, composition, sense of audience, and writing fluency.
Research on the effectiveness of instruction to develop the reading and writing skills of adolescents and adults with learning disabilities is sparse, especially for those with low literacy. A priority for future research is the development of effective instructional practices for these populations. As discussed in Chapter 2, neither the available behavioral nor neurocognitive data suggest that instruction for learners who struggle with reading and writing needs to be categorically different from the instruction that is effective with more typically developing learners. Rather, the instruction that has been effective with younger populations targets specific reading and writing difficulties in the context of reading and writing instruction (instead of using decontextualized approaches directed at changing general cognitive processes, which has been shown to be ineffective). The instruction used with typically developing learners also needs to be adapted for those with disabilities to be more explicit and systematic; provide enhanced supports for the transfer and generalization of skills; provide more opportunities for practice; address maladaptive attributions, which can be particularly important to address for struggling learners; and provide scaffolded and differentiated instruction that targets specific difficulties while continuing to develop all the skills needed for reading and writing development (see principles for struggling readers and writers presented in Chapter 2). Research to test instructional approaches consistent with these principles is needed to address the cognitive and linguistic challenges described in this chapter.
Research on accommodations for college students with learning disabilities has a stronger research base. These findings warrant application and further study with all adolescent and adult learners with disabilities. It is important to identify accommodations to remove barriers imposed by poor reading, writing, or academic learning skills. Lack of access to accommodations for individuals with learning disabilities can have major negative effects on career development and adult income. Accommodations for learning need to be used in conjunction with effective instruction to support the development and assessment of literacy. Future policies and practices pertaining to accommodating learning and work environments for the populations with learning disabilities should be guided by evidence-based research.
Assessment batteries used to diagnose learning disabilities and determine who is qualified to receive accommodations in college settings