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EDUCATION REPORT - Learning Disabilities, Part 6:  Special Education - 2004-03-10

Broadcast: March 11, 2004

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

We continue with part six in our series about learning disabilities. So far, we have discussed problems with skills like reading, writing, speech and mathematics. Today we examine what schools are doing to help students with learning disabilities.

Public schools and colleges in the United States are required by law to provide help. Congress approved the Rehabilitation Act in nineteen-seventy-three. This law requires schools to provide disabled students with opportunities equal to those for other students.

A more recent law requires public schools to establish a program for each child found to have a disability. Schools must write, and follow, a statement called an I.E.P., an individualized education program. If not, parents may take legal action. States must provide special education services for free. Teachers with these skills are in great demand.

There are many ways to meet the needs of a student who has disabilities. One way is to give the student extra time to complete work. Teachers might also permit the student to take tests differently from others in class. For example, the teacher might let the student speak the answers. Or another person could write the answers that the student gives. Also, students who have trouble concentrating might wish to take tests in a room that is extra quiet.

Some students might want others to take notes for them during class. Or they might want to listen to recordings of books instead of reading them.

Technology is one way to help. There are computer programs, for example, designed for the needs of people with learning disabilities.

There are some schools in the United States that teach only students with learning disabilities. One is Landmark College in the northeastern state of Vermont. Students attend for up to three years. It prepares them to continue their education at other colleges. Classes at Landmark College are small. Students have their own learning plan, and a special teacher to help them study.

Our series about learning disabilities continues next week. You can find all of our programs on the Internet at Included are some links to lists of schools for students with learning disabilities.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Steve Ember.