According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, 1.7% of the United States population reports having a learning disability, which equates to about 4.6 million Americans. A learning disability may be referred to as a “specific learning disability
(SLD),” which is a disorder in one or more psychological processes that makes it hard for a person to understand spoken or written language. It may also commonly be referred to as a “specific learning disorder,” which offers a broader definition.
A specific learning disorder is defined as a learning disorder that makes reading, writing, mathematical reasoning, and arithmetic difficult for a person. It can be identified when a student in formal schooling can’t provide clear verbal or written responses to questions or can’t remember facts that were provided.
While learning disabilities are usually diagnosed when a child or young adult is attending formal schooling, these disabilities don’t simply go away upon graduation. A person with learning disabilities must eventually obtain employment when he or she becomes independent.
There are many jobs for people with learning disabilities. About 46% of adults with learning disabilities who are able to work are employed. There is a popular misconception that the jobs available for disabled people are limited by industry, profession, and skill level. However, there are many job opportunities in numerous fields available to adults with learning disabilities. No matter the type of learning disability, a disabled adult can find a job and an employer willing to provide reasonable accommodations so he or she can perform the job properly.
If you’re an adult with learning disabilities or have a loved one looking for suitable employment, it’s important to know more about the reasonable accommodations employers are required to offer disabled employees. Review the information provided below to find out more about careers for adults with learning disabilities and helpful resources.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 and makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or potential employees who have mental or physical disabilities. You are covered under the ADA if you have a substantial impairment that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity, such as:
You can request reasonable accommodations from an employer or potential employer if you need them in order to complete the job screening process or perform your job tasks adequately. You’re not required to make a formal request and you can ask for a reasonable accommodation at any time during the job application process or during your employment. If there are changes to your work environment, job tasks, or disability status and severity, you can request your employer to reasonably accommodate you so you can continue performing your job. You may need to request that you:
An employer can only refuse your request if it would cause significant difficulty or expense to the company. For example, if you are asked to attend a job interview, you may request that the employer allow you to write down your answers, or provide you with significant time to respond to the interview questions.
Imagine you’re an employee with a learning disability and your job tasks have been broadened to include cashier responsibilities. You can make a reasonable accommodation request to your employer that a calculator is provided to you during your shift. Since your request doesn’t cause undue stress to your employer and is needed to perform your job, it should be easily granted.
Job opportunities for adults with learning disabilities are expansive and encompass many different industries. When analyzing an employment opportunity, it’s important to ensure you feel comfortable performing the job tasks that will be required of you. Consider the reasonable accommodations an employer may be willing to provide when choosing whether a position suits your skill level and abilities. Here are some of the best jobs for people with learning disabilities, including details on salary and growth outlook.
Outlook: The vocational counseling field is growing at 13%, which is faster than average.
The job search itself requires focus and motivation. It’s important to thoroughly understand the job searching and application process and to dedicate time and work to find the right position for you. When you begin to look for a career, you will need to:
Market Your Abilities. Now that you’ve identified your interests and abilities, develop a strategy to market these abilities. While employers are looking for job candidates that have skills, they’ll never understand your abilities if you’re not able to explain them adequately. Before attempting to apply to jobs that interest you, video yourself talking about your abilities, skills, and interests. Watch the video to better understand which skills you explain well and how you can improve when marketing yourself.
A job interview can be intimidating and stressful, so it’s important to feel prepared and know what to expect. You can practice job interviews with friends or family members who can offer you feedback on your answers and how well you’re marketing your abilities and displaying confidence. By performing several mock job interviews, you’re more likely to feel prepared and confident when you’re face-to-face with a potential employer.
It’s also important to do your research on proper job interview etiquette, as well as the company, before attending a job interview. Dress properly for the job you’re interviewing for and make sure you give yourself enough time so you won’t be late for the interview. Know an overview of the history of the company, the services or products it provides, and the job requirements and description before attending the interview.
Most interviews end with the interviewer asking if you have any questions about the position or company. Through your research on the potential employer, prepare one or two questions you can ask to learn more about the work environment or company culture.
If you feel you’ll need reasonable accommodations for your disability during the interview, you should disclose this information before attending. If you don’t need accommodations, you are not required to disclose your disability. However, if you feel you’ll need accommodations to perform your job, you should provide information on your disability and the accommodations you may need.