Learning Disabilities Program


What Are Learning Disabilities?

Learning Disabilities is a term used to identify academic learning difficulties of neurological origin that occur in individuals of average to above average intelligence. Deficits in the processing of auditory, visual and/or kinesthetic information - including memory and organizational abilities, effect the ways in which information is received, integrated and expressed. Most commonly affected are listening, reading (decoding and comprehension skills), spelling, written language and math.

Learning disabilities are developmental in nature and persist over the life span although the ways in which they manifest may change over the years. Some days may be more problematic than others. Problems may be most observable in grade school, seem to disappear in high school and resurface again in college. Difficulties may be manifest in one specific area, such as math or foreign language, or in multiple verbal language-based areas.

In almost all aspects, persons with learning disabilities are like their average peers. The critical difference is that biologically, they learn differently. The term "Learning Disabilities" is important in identifying neurological origin and in protecting legal rights; however, many individuals and professionals prefer the term "learning differences" as more reflective of actual experience and for taking a more proactive approach to learning. When the unique ways in which individuals take in, understand and express information can be accommodated through specific strategies, auxiliary aides and assistive technology, students with learning differences can and do prove themselves to be effective and successful learners.

Purpose of the Learning Disabilities Program

The purpose of the Differential Learning Skills Program is to ensure equal access to education by providing appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aides and services to eligible students upon request.

Eligibility Assessment

Students with learning disabilities/differences must provide documentation of disability and need for services. Eligibility for services will be evaluated according to the criteria for determining learning disabilities approved by the Chancellor's office for the California Community College system. Skyline students taking DSKL 811: Differential Learning Skills Assessment, complete 8 hours of group and/or individualized testing based on the above criteria within a four week time frame. Areas assessed include cognitive ability, academic performance and information processing. Criteria addressed include presence of significant discrepancies between ability and achievement and within or between the major modalities for learning.

Program Planning

Learning Specialists and Counseling staff are available to assist students with a variety of support services related to program planning including identification of educational goals, career planning, course selection, course load, priority registration, and transfer services.

For additional information, please contact:

Carol Newkirk-Sakaguchi, Learning Disabilities Specialist at (650) 738-4228.


For many students in the DSKL program learning to use assistive technology related to reading, writing and study skills is strongly recommended. Eligible students may take classes taught by the Assistive Technology Specialist in which they are taught to use appropriate technology and encouraged to use it on a daily basis. The Alternate Media Specialist assists students in reformatting classroom texts and materials as needed.

Support Services

Support services include, but are not limited to:

Accommodations Facilitation

  • Access to assistive technology: alternative formats for reading and written language
  • Note-taking needs
  • Tape recording/strategies
  • Equipment loan
  • Instructor communications

Alternative testing

  • Extended time
  • Separate setting/Proctoring
  • Reader, scribe or assistive technology
  • Enlarged format
  • Recognition v. retrieval strategies

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