Learning disabilities such as dyslexia or ADHD fall under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those laws assure you of your right to obtain reasonable accommodation for education. As such, admissions offices cannot discriminate against you because of your disability during the admissions process. However, the admissions officer is also prohibited from asking you about disabilities. So, if an admissions officer does not know why you struggled in high school or in college due to your disability, your application may be discounted.
I recommend you disclose your disability in an optional essay or statement of purpose. Your learning disability must be professionally tested, diagnosed and documented, and upon disclosure, an admissions officer will understand the full scope of your issues and make an appropriate decision on your application. Once admitted, the admissions officer will direct you to the school’s center for disabilities that helps learning disabled students navigate their way through the school with proven methods of alternative learning.
The center’s director will often determine the accommodation that’s best for you and communicate your personal needs to your program director or dean. It is your school’s obligation to communicate the accommodation to your faculty based on the documentation you provided and any additional testing the school requires. Always explain to your program director the kind of learning processes that have helped you in the past.
If while in school you feel you are being unfairly treated, file a formal complaint with the office for disabilities and with your program director. They will act as your liaison between you and the faculty. Many successful CEOs have dyslexia or ADD, and their disabilities became an asset in school and at work.
For further assistance on your applications, contact a consultant at Accepted.
By Natalie Grinblatt Epstein, an accomplished Accepted consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.