TAP A – THE RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBLITIES OF ADULTS
WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES AND
THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF SERVICE PROVIDERS
Table of Contents
FEDERAL AND STATE LEGAL BASIS 3
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 4
American Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 4
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 4
The Florida Educational Equity Act 5
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 5
RIGHTS OF ADULTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES 6
RESPONSIBILITIES OF ADULTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES 7
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SERVICE PROVIDERS 8
RELATED WEBSITES 12
The Practitioners’ Task Force on Adults with Learning Disabilities, in
conjunction with the Division of Workforce Education, Adult Education
Programs and GED, authored a set of three Technical Assistance Papers
(TAPs) focusing on students in adult education programs with learning
disabilities. The TAPs are written for adult educators. They are designed to
meet the needs of adult education students and to increase their success.
Adult educators are encouraged to order all three TAPs, however they may
also be ordered individually. The Technical Assistance Papers include:
TAP A- The Rights and Responsibilities of Adults with Learning
Disabilities and The Responsibilities of Service Providers
TAP B- Screening for Learning Disabilities in Adult Education Programs
TAP C- Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities in Adult
Adult educators may access these Technical Assistance Papers several
(1) Adult Education Programs and GED Programs website
(2) Order through The Florida Department of Education, Career
Planning and Product Distribution Website
(3) Through Florida TechNet Website
If you have questions, contact:
Teresa Bestor, Director
Adult Education Programs and GED
TAP A: Rights and Responsibilities of Adults with Learning
Disabilities and the Responsibilities of Service Providers – This TAP is
written for a variety of audiences including adult students with disabilities
(e.g. learning disabilities), adult education practitioners and literacy program
providers. This TAP addresses the rights of adults with learning disabilities
and the responsibilities of service providers. The TAP focuses on federal and
state laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
It is increasingly important for students with disabilities to have an
understanding of their rights and responsibilities in order to be active
participants in, and benefit from, adult education programs. It is equally
important that staff be knowledgeable about the law and their
responsibilities, for providing equal access and services to all students with
disabilities (e.g. learning disabilities). Resources for students and educators
(e.g., websites) are also listed. The following areas are addressed:
Federal and State Legal Basis
Rights of Adults with Disabilities (e.g. Learning Disabilities)
Responsibilities of Adults with Disabilities
Responsibilities of Service Providers
Accommodations – Any changes that are made to the way students access
information and demonstrate performance. The changes are not intended to
modify a program, or give the student with a disability any advantage.
Assistive Devices – A wide range of tools and techniques including both
high tech and low tech devices/tools. Examples of high tech tools include
visual magnification or auditory amplification devices, and a talking
calculator. Examples of low tech tools include colored highlighters and pencil
grippers. Assistive devices/tools are typically used in classroom instruction.
They can also be used for assessments, if authorized in the assessment
Equal Access – Assurance that an institution takes steps necessary to
ensure that an individual with a disability (e.g., learning disability) is not
denied the opportunity to benefit from, or participate in, the institution’s
Learning Disability (LD) – A permanent disorder in one or more of the
central nervous system processes involved in perceiving, understanding,
and/or using concepts through verbal (spoken or written) language or non-
verbal means. It manifests itself with a deficit in one or more of the
following areas: attention, reasoning, processing, memory, communication,
reading, writing, spelling, calculation, coordination, social competence, and
emotional maturity. LD is an information processing disorder that affects
the manner in which individuals with average to above average intelligence
learn. Learning disabilities occur regardless of gender, race, or ethnic origin
and are not the result of a poor academic background, mental retardation,
or emotional disorders.
Success Attributes – These attributes are factors, based on research
conducted by a twenty-year longitudinal, follow-up study, conducted by the
Frostig Center (2005). Success attributes which are indicated below are
considered to be more predictive of success than expected variables such as
academic achievement and IQ:
the presence and use of effective support systems
emotional coping strategies
FEDERAL AND STATE LEGAL BASIS
An awareness of the federal laws and state statutes that protect individuals
with disabilities from discrimination, serves as a foundation to thoroughly
understand the rights and responsibilities of the students as well as the
responsibilities of service providers.
Students with disabilities are protected by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR),
which enforces two Federal civil rights laws: the U.S. Department of
Education’s Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (34 CFR Subpart A
Section 104.1) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Title II of the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 (28 CFR Subpart A Section 35.101). These laws
are implemented through policies and procedures, monitored by federal and
state agencies, and are upheld by the courts.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) –
Federal law that prohibits discrimination in programs or activities that
receive Federal financial assistance. The U.S. Department of
Education gives grants of financial assistance to schools and colleges
and to certain other entities, including vocational rehabilitation
programs. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is in the
federal code of regulations (34 CFR Subpart A Section 104.1).
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) – Federal law that
prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability in employment,
programs, activities and services of state and local governments,
public service, public accommodations, and telecommunications. The
OCR authorizes the U.S. Department of Justice to implement the
regulation. The Title II regulation is in the federal code of regulations
(28 CFR Subpart A Section 35.101). The employment provisions (Title
I) of the ADA are implemented by the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC). The Title I regulation is in the Federal Code of
Regulations (29 CFR Part 1630).
To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability
The ADA defines an individual with a disability as a person who:
o Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one
or more major life activities
o Has a history or record of such impairment, or
o Is perceived by others as having such impairment
The law is strengthened by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
requiring access to electronic and information technology.
Section 508 (added to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in 1996
and amended in 1998) – Section 508 requires that electronic and
information technologies which are procured or developed, be
maintained by federal agencies and be accessible to people with
disabilities, unless it poses an undue burden to do so. Accessibility
standards needed to comply with this law were developed by the
United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance
Board. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is in the federal
code of regulations (29 U.S.C. § 794(d).
The State of Florida is also aligned with the Federal laws through Statute.
The Florida Educational Equity Act protects against discrimination of anyone
attending a public educational institution.
The Florida Educational Equity Act, Title XLVII K20 Education
Code, Selection 1000.05 (F.S.) 1984 and implemented in 1985 –
The Florida Educational Equity Act prohibits discrimination on the basis
of race, national origin, sex, handicap or marital status, against a
student or an employee in the state system of public education. No
person in this state shall, on the basis of race, national origin, sex,
disability or marital status, be subjected to discrimination practices by
a public educational institution which receives or benefits from federal
or state financial assistance (Section 1000.05, F.S.).
The Federal laws prohibiting job discrimination are enforced by the U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) –
EEOC provides oversight and coordination of all federal equal
employment opportunity regulations, practices, and policies (U.S.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2004.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women
who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment
from sex-based wage discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment
discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which
protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older.
Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which
prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities
who work in the federal government.
Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(ADA), which prohibits employment discrimination against qualified
individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and
The Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides
monetary damages in cases of intentional employment
RIGHTS OF ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES (e.g. LEARNING
1. A student with a disability may participate in educational
programs, services, and activities without discrimination.
According to the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504),
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Florida
Educational Equity Act, a student may not be denied participation in any
adult education or literacy program. A student may also not be denied
services (28 CFR Subpart A, 35.101-107, 34 CFR Subpart E, 104.41-44, F.S.
1000.05, Title XLVII K20 Education Code). If it is determined that an
individual has a disability, the institution has the responsibility to ensure
equal access to all programs, supports, and services without discrimination.
(28 CFR Subpart E, 104.42 (b)(1).
2. An individual with a disability may choose whether or not to
disclose their disability status.
This is correct. Only the individual with a disability has the right to make
this decision. If an individual intends to request any type of accommodation
however, the student must self-identify. It is also a student’s right to
choose Not to disclose and thus, Not be eligible for accommodations. (34
CFR Subpart D Part 104.38). Once a person with a disability has self-
disclosed the individual is entitled to the assurance of confidentiality in
regard to his/her disability-related records.
3. An individual with a disability may receive both instructional and
Self-disclosing is the first step an individual with a disability must take to
receive the wide range of accommodations, available to them during
classroom instruction and assessment. A student is responsible for
providing the most recent information documenting his/her disability.
Examples of accommodations include flexible scheduling, flexible settings,
and the availability of assistive devices (28 CFR Subpart A 35.104
(1)(2)(3)(4); Florida Department of Education, 2007: Technical Assistance
Paper on Assessment Policies and Procedures in Adult General Education
Programs, pp. 15-16.
Assistive devices/tools are varied. The most efficient and up-to-date
assistive technologies available to suit an individual’s needs should be
utilized. (Also see TAP C, Accommodations for Students with Learning
Disabilities in Adult Education Programs)
4. An individual with a disability should be provided with a copy of
the law and their rights.
All students should be informed of federal and state laws. Their rights should
also be provided. This will ensure that all students are knowledge about the
laws, equal access, non-discrimination and program services and support
(28 CFR Subpart A 35.106). It is recommended this take place during
intake or orientation.
5. An individual with a disability should be informed of the
In keeping with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (34 CFR
Subpart A Section 104.1) and the ADA (28 CFR Subpart A Section 35.101),
an individual with a disability must be made aware of grievance and appeal
procedures. Students should request and be given copies of the written
procedures to ensure they are aware of timeframes and deadlines.
6. An individual with a disability should access, and upon request,
receive copies of their records.
An individual with a disability has a right to request copies of his/her
records. If the request to review the material involves someone outside of
the agency/institution, it is recommended that the student sign a formal
release of information (Florida Department of Education, 2005: A Procedure
Manual for Providing Accommodations on the GED Tests
RESPONSIBILITIES OF ADULTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS):
In adult education and literacy programs, adults with learning disabilities
have a certain responsibilities. The frequently asked questions below offer
1. Do I need to self-identify my disability in order to request
It is the responsibility of a student with a disability to self-identify if he/she
plans to request accommodations. Following self-disclosure a student may
request specific accommodations he/she is eligible for (Florida Department
of Education, 2005: A Procedure Manual for Providing Accommodations on
the GED Test.
(See also TAP C, Accommodations for Students with Learning Disabilities in
Adult Education Programs)
2. Do I need to provide specific documentation concerning my
To ensure that the appropriate accommodations for use in the classroom and
on assessments are received, students are responsible for providing
documentation prepared by a professional who is certified to diagnose
learning disabilities (e.g., licensed and/or certified to diagnose learning
disabilities in adults, such as a psychologist, neuro-psychologist,
psychiatrist, or an LD diagnostician or specialist). Complete documentation
includes information on how the student’s ability to function has been
impacted by learning disabilities and any accommodations the certifying
professional is recommending. “Accommodations can level the playing field
and remove barriers to successful adult living and employment” (Florida
Department of Education, 2005: Accommodations and Modifications for
Students with Disabilities in Career Education and Adult General Education,
p. 6. http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/311201_acmod-voc.pdf).
Documentation may also be supplemented by personal accounts from
students, their families and friends.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SERVICE PROVIDERS
It is recommended that adult education and literacy service providers
identify and establish the abilities, skills, and competencies fundamental for
programs and courses, and evaluate each learner’s performance individually.
Service providers may participate in professional development activities
designed to give information and training on methods and strategies to
promote success attributes in adults with learning disabilities (Frostig
Center, 2005: Life Successes for Students with Learning Disabilities: A
Teacher’s Guide, Understanding Success Attributes
Service providers’ have responsibilities too. Below are some examples:
1. Assist the adult student who has a disability.
It is recommended that information packets for adult learners contain
information including program descriptions, entry into a program, laws,
student rights and the policies and procedures the service provider follows
concerning students with disabilities e.g., learning disabilties). Additionally,
procedures for requesting an instructional and/or assessment
accommodation should also be provided to students. This information
should also be posted.
2. Be responsive to a student’s request for instructional
The decision of whether or not to self identify, and therefore document a
disability, is both a right and a responsibility of an adult student. It is the
responsibility of an adult education or literacy provider to listen and be
responsive to an adult student who requests instructional intervention. A
good time for this may be during the intake and/or orientation period. Often
during this time, vital information about the adult learner may be shared
with the adult educator. An instructional intervention could lead to a
screening, and/or an assessment intervention (e.g., accommodation),
therefore the intake and/or orientation period is an important step in this
process. It is recommended that the intake/orientation period be conducted
within the first five business days of a student’s admission to a program.
(Also see TAP B, Screening for Learning Disabilities in Adult Education
Programs and TAP C, Accommodations for Students with Learning
Disabilities in Adult Education Programs)
3. Inform individuals with disabilities that accommodations are
available and do not interfere with a student’s ability to take GED
Tests and other assessments.
Adult students may be entitled to receive, an accommodation(s) during
instructional, classroom or formal assessments as well as for GED Testing.
Before they can receive an accommodation, they must have self-identified
and have their disability documented. For more information about
accommodations, see TAP B “Accommodations for Students with Learning
Disabilities in Adult Education Programs.” Candidates for GED Tests should
be informed that certain procedures must be followed and forms approved
by the local Chief GED Examiner, the State GED Administrator. Some
accommodations must be approved by the General Education Development
Testing Service (GEDTS). (GED Examiners’ Manual, 2005: Section 11).
Service providers have a responsibility to be familiar with the assessment
accommodations guidelines provided by the test publisher (Florida
Department of Education, 2005: Accommodations and Modifications for
Students with Disabilities in Career Education and Adult General Education
Chapter 3 http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pdf/311201_acmod-voc.pdf).
3. Establish procedures addressing equal access and non-
To assist in this, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission, 2004,
http://www.eeoc.gov/abouteeo/overview_laws.html) and the Americans with
Disabilities Act non-discrimination policies, should be provided to all students
(28 CFR Subpart A 35.106). Many programs discuss the policy with students
during intake or orientation as well as post them. Procedures that
accompany these policies should be made available to all students as well as
the adult education staff.
The institution must take steps to ensure that an individual with a disability
is not denied the opportunity to benefit from and participate all programs
offered by the institution (34 CFR Section 104.42 (a). It is important to
provide a statement of assurance of non-discrimination from the institution
for the adult learner. An example of this statement is:
__________ (name of service provider) complies with Section
504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (34 CFR Subpart A Section
104.1) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
of 1990 (28 CFR Subpart A Section 35.101), which forbid
discrimination on the basis of a student’s disability. We
encourage you to know your rights and responsibilities under
Section 504 and ADA. Doing so will improve your opportunity to
succeed at ____________ (name of service provider).
4. Ensure confidentiality for all disability-related information.
In order to ensure confidentiality, each service provider should develop
policies, procedures, and practices to maintain the confidential treatment of
all disability-related information. To ensure the safety and confidentiality of
the client records, information may be stored in locked files with limited
access. These records may be shared with adult education staff providing
direct services to the student.
5. Include a statement on all forms, letters, brochures, and public
relations materials indicating the program is ADA accessible,
All printed documents and statements, should indicate ADA accessibility and
EEOC compliance. This statement informs all students that programs
encourage participation by everyone. The adult education staff should also
be knowledgeable about federal and state laws which protect everyone and
are upheld by the courts.
This Technical Assistance Paper (TAP) addresses federal and state
laws protecting individuals with a disability (e.g., learning
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
The Florida Educational Equity Act
The U.S. Economic Education Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Adults with a disability (e.g., learning disability) have the following
rights and responsibilities:
Have the right to participate in educational programs without
Have the right not to self-identify if they choose not to
Have the right to receive reasonable accommodations in courses and
Have the responsibility to self-identify a disability if accommodations are
to be sought
Have the responsibility to provide documentation concerning their
disabilities and the need for accommodations
Service providers (e.g., adult education practitioners and literacy
program providers) have the following responsibilities:
Identify and establish the abilities, skills, and competencies fundamental
to its academic programs and courses
Evaluate each learner’s performance individually
Ensure that courses and examinations are accessible to all students
Ensure that reasonable accommodations are provided in the delivery of
course materials and examinations
National Center for Learning Disabilities
National Institute for Literacy, Bridges to Practice
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Title 34)
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title 28)