Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Learning Disabilities at Work
Learning Disabilities at Work

Learning Disabilities at Work

How to Get What You Need

Every educator in America knows about learning disabilities. The result: Students with dyslexia, organizational problems, attention deficit disorder and similar conditions receive accommodation, such as extra time on tests, quiet rooms for studying and scribes for note taking.

These students eventually bring their learning disabilities into the workforce. According to the National Institute for Literacy, up to 20 percent of the US population may be affected. However, because learning disabilities are hidden -- and workers aren't legally required to disclose them -- employers may misunderstand or even be unaware of these disabilities.

If they find out, supervisors may downplay the disability or the employee's ability to function adequately. The problem, says Suzanne Gosden Kitchen, human factors consultant at the Job Accommodation Network, is not the disability itself; it's others' reaction to it.

That leaves workers with learning disabilities to decide how to manage at work -- struggle in secrecy or seek employer support through disclosure?

Deciding When to Disclose a Learning Disability

"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that an individual can disclose a disability at any time, from the first day of application to the day of termination," Kitchen says. "But I don't advise disclosing at the beginning. You don't have to, and it's illegal to ask."

Online information center LdPride cites advantages and disadvantages to disclosing a learning disability early in the job application process. If an employer has only limited knowledge of learning disabilities, it may color how he perceives you. And the subject may overtake the rest of your interview.

But disclosing early allows you to judge how understanding a potential employer would be as well as the level of accommodation you'd receive. At the same time, you can assuage any doubts about your ability to perform the job, particularly if you provide concrete examples of past successes. And not having to hide a learning disability may help you sell yourself more effectively.

If the job application involves a test, ask for what you need, such as extra time, a private room, the test read aloud or a scribe to write your answers, Kitchen says. Those undecided about whether they should disclose a learning disability should find out when the test will be given again. If you can retake it next week, you may want to try without disclosure. But you'll probably want to ask for accommodation if the test is given less frequently.

A stigma still surrounds learning disabilities, Kitchen says. "After high school, a lot of people don't want to tell anyone ever again," she says. "That's too bad. If you don't tell, you might not get the accommodation you need."

Asking for Accommodations

Your employer may be surprised to learn how simple and inexpensive many accommodations are. Workers with learning disabilities may be helped by color-coded labels or diagrams and flow charts. Workers with an auditory processing disorder may simply need to receive instructions in writing, while those who are dyslexic may need verbal direction. Such workers may be most productive in a private office.

Some people with learning disabilities have trouble organizing both their time and their time-saving devices. A possible solution is a watch-like hybrid of a clock and PDA. Other high tech, low-cost electronic aids include voice output machines, graphic organizers for creating and writing documents, screen-reading and voice-recognition software, talking calculators, large-display screens, electronic schedulers and white-noise machines.

Coworkers should know about accommodations only if they are directly involved in providing them, Kitchen says. Examples would be if someone were asked to check a colleague's written work before it was submitted or to read him instructions out loud. Kitchen sees no reason to tell clients or customers beyond trying to establish a bond with someone with a similar disability.

Whenever you disclose your learning disability, you must first believe it is not an obstacle to success. According to, adults repeatedly say that "once they have accepted their learning disability and its challenges, they were ‘freed up' to take on the many demands of the workplace."

Latest Jobs

Posted: 05/28/2015
Raleigh, NC, 27601
Rent A Center
Posted: 05/28/2015
Rent A Center
Posted: 05/28/2015
Rent A Center
Posted: 05/28/2015
Rent A Center
Posted: 05/28/2015

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-212