Monday, 19 May 2014

Learning Disability: Then & Now. By Dev Chatterjea

Learning disability is defined as ‘a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities’ (Mencap).  This definition is only touching the surface, but 20 years ago it was a different story.

During the 1980’s and the first half of the ‘90’s understanding of learning difficulties were very different to how we view them today. One of the reasons for this was the lack of knowledge in this field. In fact, very little was known about them. In the ‘80’s, little or no testing for learning problems were done; this meant that there was less help for people who had them. This was especially common for people not in education, and even those who were would get minimal support from “Special Needs staff”.

Computers had just started out and Windows’ Word had not replaced the DOS (Disk Operating System) version of Word, which did not have any spell checks or altering function other than save, open and close. The Internet was still to come. This meant everything was done by hand.  For a person with learning disability it may have been a problem, because the person may have made spelling and grammar mistakes causing them to re-write the work several times over. As for finding work, they would have to go to the library, where it could be difficult if a person who has trouble reading.

This is, however, different nowadays. At present, children can get better one-to-one support with their studies, because of the better understanding of learning disability. This includes adults who back then had virtually none or were worse off then their younger counterparts. Now, both children and adults are able to get tested for learning disabilities. With the invention of the Internet, Word, mobile phones, and other technology, people are able to gain information visually and audially, where as “back then” you were only had text and a few pictures. New technology allows people with learning disabilities to achieve better skills and qualifications.

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