Is dyslexia a disability?

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Is dyslexia a disability? Find out right here! We’ll discuss how this condition is classified under ADA and IDEA.

Table of Contents

Dyslexia causes many problems, such as difficulty reading words and arranging letters. There’s a lot of research surrounding dyslexia, but many still wonder if it’s classified as a learning disability. If so, what does it mean for schools and workplaces?

Dyslexia under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The American Dyslexia Association (ADA) defines disabilities as mental or physical impairments that significantly reduce a person’s ability to have a normal life.

But instead of listing the eligible conditions, the organization instructs courts to assess individual cases. They look at how much a person’s life is affected by a certain learning difference to determine if they qualify.

While some states have different criteria, one thing’s for sure – dyslexia qualifies as a disability (except for the mildest cases). It impairs reading, proper functioning of the neurological system, and learning, which is why the ADA protects the affected individuals.

People with dyslexia need help to overcome these challenges in the workplace. Here’s what employers can do to accommodate them:

  • Use verbal rather than reading instructions
  • Incorporate assistive technology, such as pens that scan texts, screen-reading software, and mind maps
  • Write resources on colored paper to make it more legible and using multi-sensory materials
  • Highlight key points to reduce distractibility and other symptoms of dyslexia
  • Give employees more time to complete projects
  • Convey information in different formats, like audio recordings, diagrams, flow charts, drawings, and videos
  • Encourage team members to record training sessions and meetings, so they don’t depend on memory or written notes
  • Not force dyslexic workers to write meeting minutes

Dyslexia under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA) is the federal law that regulates the special education of persons with dyslexia. You need to understand it to determine if your child qualifies for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

Historically, students were eligible for these services if there was a significant discrepancy between their intellect and academic success. They couldn’t access them if they underachieved simply due to low intelligence.

This guideline raised major concerns because it didn’t help dyslexic students who didn’t meet the criteria yet experienced difficulties in school.

To combat this, many organizations (like the International Dyslexia Association and National Center for Learning Disabilities) helped launch a new framework – Response to Intervention (RTI). It eliminates the discrepancy strategy and ensures equal services to all individuals with academic struggles.

Also, Section 504 has been incorporated into IDEA. It offers additional protection to individuals whose disabilities aren’t considered serious enough for special services but warrant classroom and testing accommodations. Dyslexia falls into this category.

Here are the rights Section 504 guarantees for dyslexic learners:

  • Persons with dyslexia must be allowed to participate in all government-funded activities and programs.
  • Individuals with dyslexia must be able to receive the services or benefits of their public entities.
  • The procedures, rights, and remedies under ADA are included in Section 504. This means dyslexic persons alleging discrimination based on their disabilities can receive appropriate protection.

To qualify for Section 504 accommodations, learners must have mental or physical impairments that dramatically impair at least one major activity:

  • Talking
  • Seeing
  • Breathing
  • Walking
  • Hearing
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Self-care
  • Doing manual tasks

As dyslexia checks multiple boxes, making life easier for affected individuals is one of IDEA’s primary concerns.

Can people get disability benefits for dyslexia

The Social Security Administration (SSA) approves disability benefits for various conditions, including dyslexia. They regulate the benefits for adults under listing 12.11, which also includes dysgraphia, dyscalculia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Tourette’s syndrome.

For children, the SSA has added specific conditions for learning disorders in listing 112.11

The criteria for receiving benefits are the same for adults and children.

First, you must have significant difficulty learning and mastering other academic skills. A severe form of dyslexia likely fulfills this requirement.

Second, you must prove dyslexia extremely limits you in one of the following areas or markedly limits you in at least two areas:

  • Using or understanding information (learning procedures and terms, understanding instructions, answering questions, and providing explanations)
  • Interacting with other people (asking for help, maintaining normal social interactions without becoming overly emotional)
  • Focusing on tasks while maintaining a pace (starting and finishing work, completing assignments on time)
  • Managing and adapting yourself (regulating emotions, controlling behavior, protecting yourself from harm, and being aware of risks)

Markedly means less than extremely but more than moderately. In other words, it indicates dyslexia is a seriously limiting factor, but you can still perform certain actions relatively normally.

However, proving the severity of your condition and receiving benefits is challenging, especially if you suffer from dyslexia alone. Unless low intelligence or other conditions are involved, it’s nearly impossible to show you have a qualifying limitation.

Your best chance is to obtain the opinion of a psychiatrist  psychologist, or other professionals.

If they fill out your Residual Functional Capacity form or write a letter, it can help you win your SSA case and access benefits. it can also make you a better candidate for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Living with dyslexia – use Speechify to make reading easier

Life with dyslexia is hard. While you might be eligible for workplace and education accommodations, these services may not be enough for efficient learning and boosting your self-esteem.

Fortunately, you can turn to a text to speech (TTS) platform called Speechify.

The OCR-based app is perfect for students of all grade levels and adults. The most important skill it helps develop and improve is reading comprehension.

After uploading your handbook, worksheet, or PDF, the platform uses high-quality voices to read your text aloud. It highlights sections as it goes to ensure you don’t miss any key points.

This way, you no longer need to feel anxious about reading – Speechify does it for you.

Start your free trial today!


Is dyslexia on the autism spectrum?                              

There can be some co-occurrence of dyslexia and autism, but these disorders aren’t closely linked.

Is ADHD and dyslexia a disability?

The ADA recognizes dyslexia and ADHD as disabilities.

What category of disability is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is categorized as a specific learning disability. There are four main types: surface dyslexia, phonological dyslexia, double deficit dyslexia, and rapid naming deficit.

Is dyslexia a mental disability?

Contrary to popular belief, dyslexia isn’t a mental disability. It has nothing to do with low IQ. Rather, it’s neurodevelopmental disorder.

How is dyslexia diagnosed?

To diagnose dyslexia, doctors generally test for common signs of this reading disorder, such as trouble decoding words.

Does dyslexia affect brain function?

Dyslexia can affect brain function by impairing patterns of information processing.

Is dyslexia hereditary?

Dyslexia is hereditary, meaning it has genetic origins.

What is the percentage of people with dyslexia?

About 20% of all people have dyslexia.

Dyslexia Quiz

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