LDA Legislative Agenda

LDA’s Mission

The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) is a non-profit organization of volunteers, including individuals with learning disabilities, their families, and professionals who serve them. LDA is dedicated to identifying causes and promoting prevention of learning disabilities and enhancing the quality of life for all individuals with learning disabilities and their families by encouraging effective identification and intervention, fostering research, and protecting their rights under the law. LDA seeks to accomplish this through awareness, advocacy, empowerment, education, service, and collaborative efforts.

Legislative Goals

EDUCATION

GOAL I: Ensure accurate identification of learning disabilities and access to appropriate educational services and supports.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Continued recognition under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of the category of learning disabilities, including a definition of specific learning disability that acknowledges a discrepancy between a child’s age and ability and his/her achievement.
  • The use of RTI progress-monitoring data collected from the first two tiers of RTI, as part of a general education pre-evaluation process.
  • A comprehensive evaluation that includes a cognitive assessment to help identify a student’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses needed to accurately understand how learning disabilities are impacting the student’s ability to learn and use that information in determining services for the student’s IEP.
  • Access to high quality scientifically based instruction provided by well-trained professionals.
  • Continued provision of services under Head Start for young children with, or at-risk for, learning disabilities.
  • Services for students with learning disabilities under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
  • Use of the principles of Universal Design for Learning in all classrooms.
  • Development of assistive technology and provision of assistive technology services.
  • Monitoring and enforcement of all federal laws that affect the education of individuals with learning disabilities.

GOAL II: Include students with learning disabilities in general education assessment and accountability systems.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Assuring access to the general curriculum with appropriate accommodations and/or with special education support as needed.
  • Challenging students with learning disabilities to meet state academic standards, with support from special education teachers, and appropriate accommodations as needed, as required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
  • Participation of students with learning disabilities in state assessments as required under ESEA – and including those scores in the accountability measures, to the maximum extent possible.
  • Making available alternate assessments to state testing as recommended by the Individualized Education Program Team.
  • Raising the public’s awareness of the achievement of students with learning disabilities through the disaggregation of data required under the ESEA.
  • Expanding parent involvement through regular reporting on student progress.

GOAL III: Increase the level of literacy for adolescents and adults with learning disabilities

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Adolescent literacy programs that address increasing the general reading level, while also focusing on higher order reading and writing skills.
  • Adult literacy programs that enhance individuals’ abilities to meet daily life activities, as well as increasing access to employment opportunities and improving workplace performance.

GOAL IV: Ensure that educational services are provided by highly qualified personnel.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Training general education teachers in basic special education concepts and teachers of students with learning disabilities in the general curriculum.
  • Raising professional knowledge and skill in using scientifically-based instruction with fidelity.
  • Preservice teacher preparation programs that provide specialized training in teaching children with learning disabilities.
  • Certification and licensure standards for professionals with expertise in learning disabilities that address the multiple roles and specific competencies in learning disabilities vital to student success.
  • Recognition in training programs and licensing standards that different, though overlapping, competencies are needed at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels.
  • Raising public awareness that improved student achievement depends upon family involvement and administrative support, as well as highly qualified teachers and specialized instructional support personnel.
  • Maintenance and expansion of the cadre of leadership personnel in research, administration, and teacher education.

GOAL V: Strengthen transition services for youth with learning disabilities.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Availability of multiple pathways to meet graduation requirements and promote student-focused transition planning for post-secondary education or career readiness.
  • Interagency collaboration in development and implementation of IDEA transition plans and stronger monitoring of implementation.
  • Increased focus on programs such as TRIO and Gear Up that encourage and prepare middle and high school students with learning disabilities for post-secondary education.

GOAL VI: Assure access to needed accommodations and services at the post-secondary level.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Guiding principles that can be used to interpret data and information to determine if a student with learning disabilities is a qualified person under the law.
  • A framework for determining needed accommodations for access to programs and services for a person with a learning disability who is covered by the law.
  • Access to accommodations, as appropriate, on post-secondary qualifying examinations

ADULT SERVICES

GOAL I: Ensure assessment and job training for adults with learning disabilities.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Screening of welfare and One-Stop system clients for learning disabilities.
  • Permitting states to count vocational rehabilitation services beyond six months toward work activity requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
  • Encouraging states, through the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, to make individuals with learning disabilities a high service priority.
  • Broadening vocational rehabilitation options for individuals with learning disabilities to include choices leading to gainful employment equal to their abilities.
  • Full implementation of the Workforce Incentives and Ticket to Work Acts, including provisions for accurate assessment services for adults with learning disabilities.

GOAL II: Provide access to quality jobs with appropriate workplace accommodations.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Strong high school transition services focusing on career counseling and obtaining and maintaining employment, including choosing careers that maximize the individual’s strengths.
  • Improved access to employment programs in the One-Stop system, including training staff about issues related to disability.
  • Maximizing agency and personnel collaboration by aligning transition-focused service requirements in IDEA and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.

CIVIL RIGHTS

GOAL: Maintain and strengthen civil rights for all persons with disabilities.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Preserving and strengthening the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Preserving and strengthening civil rights protections for children and adults with disabilities under the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

HEALTH

GOAL I: Understand and address harmful or helpful effects of environmental influences and endocrine disruptors on children’s health and development.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Collection and analysis of data to determine localities with a high incidence of developmental disabilities and possible environmental causes.
  • Increased federal research into the extent to which hormone-disrupting chemicals compromise brain development and threaten human health and the environment.
  • Support efforts to promote pre-conception thyroid testing.
  • Support efforts to reduce mercury pollution in the environment.
  • Efforts to reform the Toxics Substances Control Act of 1976.

GOAL II: Ensure a healthy school environment for children

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Implementation of integrated pest management systems to minimize the use of pesticides in schools and notice to families and school personnel of pesticide use.
  • Development and implementation of a plan for elimination of free-flowing mercury and instruments containing mercury from schools.
  • Development of environmental and public health standards for environmental pollutants that protect children with an adequate margin of safety.
  • Increased funding for the expansion of a national health tracking network.
  • Action to reduce or eliminate idling of school buses and other vehicles near children to reduce inhalation of diesel fumes.

GOAL III: Ensure all children with disabilities have adequate, affordable health care.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Amendments to the Medicaid program giving states the option to allow families of children with disabilities to purchase Medicaid coverage.

MENTAL HEALTH

GOAL I: Provide routine early screening for and identification of treatable mental illnesses.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Evidence-based preventive screening programs to detect mental illness, provided through facilities serving at-risk youth (schools, school-based health centers, juvenile justice facilities, youth outreach programs).
  • Collaboration between schools and community mental health facilities.
  • Suicide intervention efforts directed at children and youth and counseling programs for students in post-secondary institutions.
  • Routine mental health assessments for detained and incarcerated youth and appropriate treatment as indicated.

GOAL II: Ensure equality of treatment for individuals with mental health needs.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Requiring private health insurers to provide parity in coverage for mental health services.
  • Availability of mental health services for all families, so parents are not forced to cede legal custody of children with mental illness in order to obtain services.

JUVENILE JUSTICE and CORRECTIONS

GOAL I: Ensure that students with learning disabilities in juvenile facilities receive appropriate educational services.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Adequate funding for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs.
  • Implementation of current Individualized Education Programs and screening and educational services for youth with previously undiagnosed learning disabilities.

GOAL II: Improve adult literacy programs in correctional facilities.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Adequate funding for adult literacy programs.
  • Identification of and literacy training for adults with previously undiagnosed learning disabilities.

GOAL III: Reduce the high rate of recidivism among juveniles and adults with learning disabilities.

To address this goal, LDA supports

  • Reducing barriers to employment through literacy, job training, and life skills training.
  • Providing access to GED, post-secondary, and career technical education programs.
  • Improved planning for effective transition and reentry into society.
  • Services to address mental health and substance abuse problems, including family-based treatment programs.

Adopted September 2004; Revised Oct