Special Education

Specific Learning Disability

The term shall have the meaning given in federal law at 34 C.F.R. §§300.7 and 300.541.

Federal Definition:
Specific learning disability is defined as follows:

(i) General. The term means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
(ii) Disorders not included. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Specific Learning Disability: Dyslexia
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's webpage which includes federal, state, and the International Dyslexia Association's definitions of dyslexia, information on recent dyslexia legislation, and lists of resources for professionals working with students with dyslexia.

Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD)
CLD is an international organization that promotes effective teaching and research. CLD is composed of professionals who represent diverse disciplines and who are committed to enhance the education and lifespan development of individuals with learning disabilities. CLD establishes standards of excellence and promotes innovative strategies for research and practice through interdisciplinary collegiality, collaboration, and advocacy.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA)
IDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with dyslexia, their families and the communities that support them. The goal of IDA has been to provide the most comprehensive forum for parents, educators, and researchers to share their experiences, methods, and knowledge.

Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA)
The Learning Disabilities Association of America is a national, non-profit organization working to advance the education and general welfare of children and adults of normal or potentially normal intelligence who manifest disabilities of a perceptual, conceptual, or coordinative nature.

Learning Disabilities Worldwide (LDW)
LDW works to enhance the lives of individuals with learning disabilities, with a special emphasis on the underserved. LDW is a non-profit, volunteer organization including individuals with learning disabilities, their families, and professionals.

National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
NCLD works to ensure that the nation's 15 million children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities have every opportunity to succeed in school, work and life. NCLD provides essential information to parents, professionals and individuals with learning disabilities, promotes research and programs to foster effective learning, and advocates for policies to protect and strengthen educational rights and opportunities.

TeachingLD is a service of the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) of the Council for Exceptional Children. DLD is the largest international professional organization focused on learning disabilities. The purpose of TeachingLD is to provide trustworthy and up-to-date resources about teaching students with learning disabilities.

Last Updated: February 15, 2019

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.