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Adults with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the Literature

Volume 3: Chapter Three
Mary Ann Corley, Juliana M. Taymans

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In Chapter Three, Mary Ann Corley and Juliana M. Taymans review the literature on adults with learning disabilities. In the first part of the chapter, they explore the definition of learning disabilities and discuss the prevalence of learning disabilities in the population served by the adult education and literacy system. In the rest of the chapter, the authors describe the existing literature on adults with learning disabilities. Corley and Taymans highlight seven major studies that offer insight into what life is like for adults with LD. The authors present consistent findings across the studies that touch on areas that include academic experience, employment, stress and emotional issues, gender, self-determination, self-knowledge, the ability to plan and learn from experience, environmental factors and the importance of personal support. They highlight both the challenges imposed by changing workplace demands and the possibilities for employment success among adults with LD.

The second part of the author's literature review addresses the components of effective service delivery to adults with learning disabilities. These include assessment of learners' strengths and needs, planning of instruction and accommodation based on that assessment, and professional development to ensure that adult educators understand and employ best practices. The authors present what research suggests in each area, outlining issues in assessment, instructional models and principles, and strategies for learning. Corley and Taymans conclude the chapter with implications for research, policy, and practice. They outline a comprehensive research agenda aimed at enhancing our understanding of multiple aspects of life and learning with LD. They call for policy changes to support improved practice in areas such as materials development; professional development; coordination among adult educators, K-12 systems, and employment and community agencies; and employer awareness of LD issues. Finally, the authors recommend greater collaboration among agencies serving adults with LD and wider proliferation of best practices among adult educators.

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Updated 7/27/07 :: Copyright © 2005 NCSALL