Learning difficulties (also known as learning disabilities) refer to neurological variations among individuals that may lead to difficulties processing information in various areas, such as reading, calculating, motor coordination, etc. Some of the commonly known learning difficulties include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, etc. Individuals with learning difficulties may have average or even above average IQ’s. However, they still have unique concerns and may require support in school environments. Up to 40% of individuals with learning disabilities are not diagnosed in childhood, meaning that they do not get the intervention they need and may face a reduced sense of self-worth (BBC, 2018).
In the Indian context, individuals with learning difficulties face certain unique challenges. To a large extent, learning difficulties are diagnosed only in urban areas. However, estimates suggest that nearly 35 million children in India have dyslexia, highlighting the need to address learning difficulties. Unfortunately, learning difficulties are not easily ‘visible’, and combined with a lack of awareness, parents, and teachers may fail to recognize signs of various learning disorders. This leads to students with learning difficulties being labeled as lazy or irresponsible, and they may be viewed as ‘poor learners’. Further, such students may be excluded by teachers and students, which puts them at the risk of further psychological disorders (Vellaiappan, 2016).
Even as adults, people with learning difficulties face discrimination. One survey in the UK stated that 44.2% of employees with learning disabilities said that they had been shouted at, while 21.2% of them faced physical violence (LDT, 2013). Further, individuals with learning difficulties are also more likely to experience bullying, social isolation, poor housing, and lower-income. (BBC, 2018)
In order to combat the stigma and challenges posed by societies’ view of learning disability, much work needs to be done to raise awareness. The Rights of Persons with Disability Bill (2014) includes learning disabilities as a class of disabilities and outlines certain rights and protections for these individuals, though there is no standardized process of diagnosis and certification for these disabilities (Vellaiappan, 2016), meaning many people may fail to receive the benefits they are legally entitled to.
To conclude, having a learning disability may cause an individual to face interpersonal and systemic discrimination. In order to ensure the rights of individuals with learning difficulties are protected, awareness, timely diagnosis, and intervention are required, along with a change in societal attitudes.
- BBC.(2018). Children with learning disabilities 'failed by society’. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46070692
- LDT (2013). More action needed to tackle learning disability discrimination in the workplace. Retrieved from: https://www.learningdisabilitytoday.co.uk/more-action-needed-to-tackle-learning-disability-discrimination-in-the-workplace
- Vellaiappan, M. (2016). Current Legislations for Learning Disabilities in India and Future Prospects. Retrieved from: https://jgu.edu.in/jsgp/wp-content/uploadscurrent_legislations_for_learning_disabilities.pdf