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  • 1930


    The brain research became the foundation of the field of learning disabilities and terms such as brain-injured child was first used by Alfred Strauss and Laura Lehtinen. The term then changed from brain-injured child to minimal brain dysfunction, and then learning disabilities. 

  • 1960


    One of the first public school programs for learning disabilities was established in Syracuse University in New York by Dr. William Cruickshank.

  • 1963
    Illustration of the Chicago Palmer House


    The term learning disabilities was first introduced when a small group of parents and educators met in Chicago at the Palmer House. The term was proposed by Dr. Samuel A. Kirk, known as the Father of Learning Disabilities. As a result of the meeting, the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities was created and incorporated, and is known today as the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).

  • 1973
    Sign 504 Button


    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a landmark civil rights law, was passed. Section 504 of the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability, and required that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

  • 1975
    Public Law 94-142


    LDA advocated for specific learning disabilities to be included as a category of disabilities in a bill signed into law that created the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), also known as Public Law 94-142. EHA would eventually become the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  • 1990


    The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) was reauthorized, and the name was changed to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  • 1990
    George H.W. Bush signing the ADA


    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed.The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in employment, state and local government, public transportation and accommodations, ad telecommunications. “It will ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and so hard: independence, freedom of choice, control of their lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream.” -George H.W. Bush

  • 1997


    IDEA was reauthorized, and it included an addition of a requirement that the general education teacher should be part of the IEP team. LDA of America worked hard to ensure that all students had the right to go to school by limiting the number of days students could be suspended from school.

  • 2001


    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed.

  • 2002


    LDA started the Healthy Children Project program (HCP), focusing on the preventable causes of learning disabilities including chemical exposures that harm brain health.

  • 2004


    IDEA was reauthorized and included an addition of response to intervention that could be used in identification of students with learning disabilities.

  • 2006


    The final publication of the regulations to accompany IDEA was issued. A number of hearings were held throughout the country and LDA of America had representatives at many of those hearings.

  • 7/30/2013


    LDA & NCLD joined forces and brought about the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled.

  • 3/26/2014


    LDA contributed to the ADA Amendments Act to ensure that individuals with specific learning disabilities continued to receive the benefits of the ADA. LDA was successful in those attempts.

  • 12/23/2014


    LDA impacted federal funding in FY 2015. LDA was working with members of Congress and other interested organizations to regain eligibility for financial aid critical to helping older students and adults with specific learning disabilities get the training needed for success in the workplace. The CRomnibus bill – "Continuing Resolution + omnibus" – provides funding for all federal agencies except one for the remainder of FY 2015, which ends on September 30, 2015.

  • 3/15/2015


    LDA was a steering committee member of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition. The campaign secured a commitment from Ashley Furniture to remove all toxic flame-retardant chemicals from all of their furniture. Ashley Furniture’s announcement was in large part due to the pressure from this coalition. The campaign continued and LDA helped to win commitments from IKEA, Walmart, Macy’s and other major corporations.

  • 4/8/2015


    Walgreens announced the company is developing a chemical policy. LDA spearheaded the successful outreach and negotiations with Walgreens, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, with the Mind the Store campaign. LDA and partner organizations took part in a national week of action where LDA volunteers talked to Walgreen managers and sent the company two letters to key executives. Just a week after the 2nd letter was sent, organized by LDA and signed by 17 national and state disability groups, the company responded and committed to adopting a chemical policy.

  • 4/22/2015


    LDA helped send in vinyl flooring tiles to be tested, and over 50% had toxic phthalates chemicals, which have strong links to harming brain health. LDA worked with the Mind the Store campaign to stop the sale of vinyl flooring with phthalates. As a result, Home Depot was the first to commit to phasing out these chemicals by the end of 2015, followed by similar commitments from top competitors, including Lowe’s, Lumber Liquidators, and Menard's, followed by other companies including Ace Hardware and Floor & Decor.

  • 4/27/2015


    The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was reauthorized and renamed to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As Congress moved to reauthorize the ESSA, LDA recommended that students with learning disabilities receive access to the general education curriculum, to maintain "students with disabilities" as a specific subgroup for accountability purposes, to include a definition of "universal design for learning" and incorporate these principles in the law, and to require schools to determine and assure the availability of social/emotional and mental health services for students as part of their school improvement plans.

  • 2016


    LDA joined EarthJustice and other partners, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Federation, and National Hispanic Medical Association, to petition the Consumer Product Safety Commission to undertake rulemaking to ban four product categories if they contain any organohalogen flame retardants. LDA submitted written comments in support of the petition, and organized six learning and developmental disability organizations and six scientific experts to sign onto LDA’s comments, which were submitted to CPSC in January 2016. LDA’s HCP Director also presented oral testimony at a public hearing of the CPSC.

  • 2/8/2016


    LDA worked to support Flint, Michigan. LDA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Committee and the Professional Advisory Board (PAB) joined together to compose a letter that has been sent to national news media including the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC), and local and state media outlets in Michigan such as the Detroit Free Press and the Flint Journal. Maureen Swanson, director of the LDA Healthy Children Project, and Policy and Advocacy Chair neuropsychologist Jerome Schultz, provided expert information to the workgroup on the effects of high lead levels on children's growth and development. This document also contained a long term plan.

  • 2/2016


    A subcommittee of LDA’s Board of Directors submitted a report titled: STORIES FROM THE TESTING ROOM High School Equivalency Exams: Accessibility of Accommodations for Persons with Learning Disabilities. This report was submitted to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and shared with the Department of Justice (DoJ). As a result, the DoJ opened an investigation of one of the testing entities and significant changes were made at that testing entity.

  • 6/2016


    The Frank R Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (HR 2576) was passed. LDA worked tirelessly for years to push for reform of the badly broken 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA allowed almost 80,000 chemicals to be used with little or no testing. LDA organized members to attend two stroller brigade rallies, submitted testimony, and worked for several years to push for reform. LDA worked with partners to ensure the proposed bill was as strong and health protective as possible, including steps on how to tackle the worst chemicals like those that harm children’s brain health. While there were concerns with the bill including unnecessary red tape in order to take action on chemicals, it was still an important reform.

  • 10/25/16


    The EPA expedited action on Toxic Chemicals Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act. LDA has been a leader in the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition of over 450 national organizations and businesses, working to regulate or eliminate toxic chemicals used in homes, schools, workplaces, and in everyday products. Now the EPA implementing agency has begun to identify chemicals that will receive expedited action under the new law.

  • 5/29/2018


    As part of the Mind the Store campaign, LDA organized a sign-on letter to Lowe’s with national and state partner organizations asking the company to be the first to commit to ban paint stripper products with methylene chloride and NMP. Scientific evidence from multiple studies shows that both men’s and women’s exposures to toxic solvents including methylene chloride and NMP are linked to lasting problems with brain development, cognition and behavior in their children. This win was followed by actions to push other retailers to do the same which resulted in bans from Home Depot, Amazon, Sherwin-Williams, AutoZone, Ace Hardware and others all prohibiting the sale of these products in their stores. LDA followed up with store visits to ensure that the companies followed through with their commitments.

  • 12/13/2018


    LDA advocated for reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Act. A high proportion of inmates in both the juvenile and adult justice systems are individuals with learning disabilities, with estimates ranging from 10 to 40%, and up to 60% with disabilities in general. Title V of the Act has been amended to provide Youth PROMISE grants for tutoring and remedial education services, with a primary focus on reading and math, mental health services, and youth leadership development programs that will empower and build confidence in struggling young people. These include a prohibition against incarceration for status offenses (conduct not considered criminal for adults, such as truancy and curfew violations), keeping youth out of “sight and sound” contact with adult inmates while incarcerated, banning housing of youth offenders in adult facilities while awaiting trial as juveniles, and mandating that states address disproportionality in the incarceration of minorities.

  • 8/17/2019


    LDA of Illinois created State Bill 424 to help Non-English speaking parents in the IEP process. This bill amended the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code. It requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules to establish the criteria, standards, and competencies for a bilingual language interpreter who attends an individualized education program meeting to assist a parent who has limited English proficiency.

  • 9/24/20


    The FDA released their recommendations on amalgam (dental fillings with about 50% mercury). LDA has been working with partners for a few years to push the FDA to review amalgam and take action to protect people from mercury, a known neurotoxin. The FDA outlined high risk groups and included pregnant and nursing women as well as children (especially under 6 years old) and recommended that safer alternatives to amalgam be used for these groups – As part of a small coalition of groups, LDA of America’s HCP submitted comments, HCP Director Tracy Gregoire presented at one in-person meeting with the FDA in DC in August 2018, and also participated calls with the agency.

  • 2020


    LDA is opposing Nancy Beck’s nomination to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a critical agency with the job of protecting us from dangers in everyday products. Nancy Beck has been nominated for this position but has a terrible record when it comes to protecting our health. That’s why LDA organized our disability letter to the nomination senate committee as well as the senate as a whole that approves nominations. LDA and partner are mobilizing members to share their concerns on this nomination and so far, her nomination has not moved forward.


Come with us on our advocacy journey! This Giving Tuesday, donate to LDA to help fund our increased advocacy efforts, and help us add more successes to our advocacy timeline.