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Resources for Nurses and Nursing Students With Learning Disabilities

Nurses Article   (6,052 Views 0 Replies 987 Words)
by Donna Maheady Donna Maheady (Member) Member Writer Innovator Expert Nurse

Donna Maheady has 38 years experience and specializes in Pediatrics, developmental disabilities.

1 Follower; 13 Articles; 38,832 Profile Views; 159 Posts

Are you one of the reported 15% to 20% of Americans affected by a learning disability or disorder? The good news is that resources are available to help nurses and nursing students.

Resources for Nurses and Nursing Students With Learning Disabilities

According to the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), a learning disability is a neurological condition that interferes with an individual's ability to store, process, or produce information. Learning disabilities can affect one's ability to read, write, speak, spell, compute math, reason and also affect an individual's attention, memory, coordination, social skills and emotional maturity.

The National Institutes of Health reports a wide range in estimates of the number of people affected by learning disabilities. Some of the variation results from differences in requirements for diagnosis in different states. Some reports estimate that as many as 15% to 20% of Americans are affected by learning disabilities and disorders.

The good news is that resources are available to help nurses and nursing students.

A University/College Disability Services Center

An important resource for nursing students. A student can meet with a counselor and discuss his or her individual situation. If reasonable accommodation is indicated, the nursing student will have to provide documentation of disability. Accommodations may include books on tape, extended time/quiet room for test taking or a note taker for classroom lectures.

Book Share  

A project supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. It is an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Bookshare® is the world's largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Their holdings include some books about nursing.

Learning Ally

A national non-profit dedicated to helping blind, visually impaired and dyslexic students succeed in education. It started in 1948 in the New York Public Library and was called "Recording for the Blind". They utilized volunteers to record books for blinded veterans returning from WW II. Today, they offer the world's largest collection of human-narrated audio textbooks and literature as well as solutions, support, and community for parents, teachers, and students. They have a number of nursing textbooks available.


Developed by two Babson college students, is a custom keyboard for people with reading disorders. It can be used within any iPhone app. DyslexiaKey allows people to type in an open-source font called OpenDyslexic, in which letters have heavier bottoms to combat the common problems of letters flipping and switching. The app is available in the iTunes store for free.


Uses text-to-speech technology to aid users with disabilities. The app combines e-readers and text-to-speech apps so that users only need to use a single app to have documents read out loud to them.

Math disabilities tutorials  

Available from the Middlesex University's Numeracy Support Department. In a number of tutorials presented on YouTube, teachers demonstrate ways to do math without using a calculator, metric unit conversions and drops per minute.

Great Ways to Learn Anatomy and Physiology

A highly visual text for anyone studying anatomy and physiology. It provides innovative techniques. User-friendly, this accessible text brings complex processes to life with imaginative diagrams and storylines which aid understanding, reinforce memory and also support students with memory, dyslexic or mathematical difficulties.

First person accounts  

Document success stories of nurses and nursing students with learning disabilities. Toni Sugg, RN, graduated from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, in May 2011 and received the Nursing Excellence Award for her class. Toni shares her journey with dyslexia in Minority Nurse (2014). Tino Plank, RN, MS wrote a chapter called "Ain't No Mountain High Enough: Paths to success for nurses with learning disabilities". He suggests sharing a "learning bio" with nursing faculty. It can serve as a way to introduce yourself, share your goals, learning disability and accommodations if needed.


Can provide information, suggestions, support and advocacy. Examples include:

If you are a nurse or nursing student with a learning disability, what helped you most? Please share your thoughts about these resources and your experiences. Other nurses and nursing students can learn from you!


Book Share. Bookshare | An Accessible Online Library for people with print disabilities

Dyslexia Key. DyslexiaKey - Making Typing Less Frustrating For Dyslexia on the App Store

Learning Ally. Learning Ally | About Us - Helping BVI Student - Helping Dyslexia

Learning Disability Association of America (LDA)

McKissock, C. (2014). Great Way to Learn Anatomy and Physiology. Palgrave Macmillan.

Middlesex University, Numeracy Support Department.

Middlesex University, Numeracy Support Department.


Middlesex University, Numeracy Support Department.

Minority Nurse (2014).. Retrieved from Challenges of a nursing student with dyslexia

National Institutes of Health (NIH). How many people are affected/at risk for learning disabilities?

Plank, T. (2014). Ain't No Mountain High Enough: Paths to Success for Nurses with Learning Disabilities in D.C. Maheady (Ed). The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Smartphone apps helping students with dyslexia.


Forever nurse! Pediatrics is my love and passion. I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and have been practicing and teaching nursing for over 35 years. I am the founder of a nonprofit organization for nurses with disabilities, www.ExceptionalNurse.com, author of three books and numerous articles about nurses and nursing students with disabilities as well as other topics. In addition, I am an autism mom/warrior and dog lover!

1 Follower; 13 Articles; 38,832 Profile Views; 159 Posts

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