Learning Disability
A learning disability is any one of a diverse group of conditions, believed to be of neurological origin, that cause significant difficulties in perceiving and/or processing auditory, visual or spatial information, or any combination of these information forms.

Who has them?
Learning disabilities often occur in people of average or above average intelligence and they involve one or more of the basic processes used in understanding or using spoken or written language.

What do they include
They include disorders that impair functions such as reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia) and mathematical calculation (dyscalculia). They vary widely within each category in the patterns they exhibit. The marked discrepancy between intellectual capacity, and achievement and output (expressing information and responding) is what characterises a learning disability.

Common symptoms of a specific learning difficulty include 'strange' spelling, particularly with inverted syllables, abbreviated-looking words, omission of vowels, and inverted letters. The condition of learning disability has been identified only comparatively recently, and often goes undiagnosed.

Speech Impairment
Such disabilities include difficulties in pronunciation of sounds, projection and fluency problems.

What is Speech Impairment?
Speech impairments may range from problems with articulation or voice strength to complete voicelessness, chronic hoarseness, stuttering or stammering. Speech difficulties can also be associated with cerebal palsy, hearing impairment and brain injury. People with speech disabilities may be difficult to understand and have difficulty in expressing ideas.

Accommodations/Assistive Technology
Some of these difficulties can be managed by such mechanical devices as electronic speaking machines or computerised voice synthesisers. Others may be treated through speech therapy. All of them can be aggravated by the anxiety associated with oral communication in a group.

Visual Impairment
The causes of vision impairment are diverse and include diabetes, glaucoma, stroke, brain injury, eye infections, viruses, accidents and congenital conditions such as albinism.

The extent of the impact of the disability on a person's life is influenced by the degree of impairment, the age at which the impairment occurs and the person's range of experiences in early life. People who are blind from a young age may have only partial knowledge of many objects and ideas that people with normal vision take for granted. Some people may be able to improve their vision with corrective lenses, while others with low vision may rely on residual vision with the use of adaptive equipment. Reading and writing are often much slower processes for people with vision disabilities.

Hearing Impairment

Illness, prenatal impairment, workplace noise and accidents are the major causes of deafness and hearing loss. The effects of deafness and hearing loss on communication depend on the extent, type and time of onset of the disability.

The extent may range from mild to profound, and may involve the loss of some or many frequencies of sound. It is often possible for people to hear certain sounds (usually of low frequency, such as vowels) but not others. Some sounds may be distorted or grossly amplified. Also, hearing levels may fluctuate and a person who hears quite well one day may have considerable difficulty the next. A "mild" loss may still make it impossible for the person to understand another person's voice eight metres away even when a hearing aide can assist at closer distances.

Lip reading
Lip reading or, more correctly, speech reading is generally used together with the sound patterns provided by a hearing aid. Some individuals lip read or speech read extremely well, while others scarcely do so at all. With lip reading, only 30-40 per cent of spoken English is comprehensible, even for those who are highly skilled.

Secondary Effects
For people who are deaf or hearing impaired and who choose to speak, feedback mechanisms are limited, therefore vocal control, volume and articulation may be affected. These secondary effects are physical and should not be viewed as mental or intellectual weaknesses.

Mobility Disability

What are they?
Mobility disabilities can stem from a wide range of causes and be permanent, intermittent or temporary. Among the most common permanent disorders are musculoskeletal disabilities such as partial or total paralysis, amputation or severe spinal injury, types of arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, head injury and cerebral palsy. Additionally, conditions such as respiratory and cardiac diseases may also impair mobility. Any of these conditions may impair the strength, speed, endurance, coordination and dexterity necessary for proper hand function.