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The characteristics that are considered distinctive to students with learning disabilities are based on the formalistic definitions widely accepted by experts in the field.
As defined by the NJCLD- the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (1994), ‘learning disability’ is a "general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual and presumed to be due to Central Nervous System Dysfunction. Even though a learning disability may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (e.g. sensory impairment, mental retardation, social and emotional disturbance) or environmental influences (e.g. cultural differences, insufficient/inappropriate instruction, psychogenic factors) it is not the direct result of those conditions or influences."
The common definition used for diagnosing the presence of a learning disability is the one set under the DSM IV (1994) –
(Diagnositical Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the manual for psychiatric diagnostics published by the American Psychiatric Association, whose diagnostics are accepted also in Israel: "A person is diagnosed as having a learning disability when achievements in the standard of reading, calculus or written expression in an individual assessment are significantly lower than expected according to age, level of education and I.Q., and the learning disabilities cause significant disruption to academic achievements or to other daily activities that require reading, calculus or writing skills."
As such, students will be defined as having learning disabilities when the following two conditions are met: There is a significant and constant gap between the actual academic achievements of the student and his or her expected achievements according to age and the level of the class, and there is a significant gap between the student's academic achievements and his intellectual skills as assessed under objective I.Q. testing. The learning disabilities might be manifested in cognitive, behavioral or the affective-social spheres. (Retrieved from the Ministry of Education website, Manager's memo 1994/4(b), 1/12/2003.)
Different types of learning disabilities include: dyslexia – difficulty in reading , dysgraphia – difficulty in writing, dyscalculia – difficulties in calculating, attention, concentration and hyperactivity disorders – ADD and ADHD, Asperger syndrome, which relates to the autistic spectrum – difficulty in performing simple social tasks, dyspraxia – difficulty in applying motor skills, fetal alcohol syndrome – children born to alcoholic mothers and who suffer minor retardation and severe learning disabilities, stuttering – difficulty in speech acquisition and right middle lobe syndrome.
60%-80% of all of people diagnosed with learning disabilities experience difficulties in reading and therefore this topic is one of the most heavily researched topics in the field of learning disabilities. Most of the people with learning disabilities who are subscribed to the library are dyslexic. The DSM IV defines dyslexia as a "deficiency in the development of the skills relating to vocabulary and reading comprehension. This deficiency is not a result of mental retardation or inadaptability to schools, and not even a result of hearing or visual impairment. There is evidence of disorder in learning processes and low academic achievements or in daily activities which require reading skills, or when reading aloud is slow, hesitant, fragmented, accompanied by errors in reading, switching or omitting words".
The Central Library for the Blind helps subscribers with diagnosed learning disabilities to improve their learning achievements and allows them to consume reading material for pleasure and knowledge acquisition, by producing textbooks and reference book in a recorded format.