Effects of Service Interruption on ADA Students with Learning Disabilities

People living with disabilities are often the focus of attention because of their conditions, with the government and various non-governmental institutions offering special provisions to accommodate them. Bryant et al. (2019) assert that the US has been on the frontline in creating ample social spaces for people with disabilities, especially through the creation, enactment, and enforcement of policies, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. In essence, this act is a civil rights law meant to protect persons with disabilities from discrimination in all public spaces, such as the workplace, healthcare facilities, and schools. The law applies in both private and public places open to the public, including shopping malls and the public transport system. The education system is among the key areas where systems must be designed with a particular focus on ADA learners’ needs. However, much as organizations may commit to the implementation of systems needed for conformance with the ADA requirements, it is apparent that challenges leading to service interruptions often arise, making it difficult for ADA students to function and record optimal educational outcomes.

Persons with disabilities require more support to cope, a situation that requires the incorporation of specialized systems designed to serve their needs. McLeskey et al. (2017) assert that the structural design of public space settings, such as healthcare facilities or schools, should be such to allow easy movement of persons with disabilities. Buildings should be easily accessible for these persons to be considered sufficiently accommodative and devoid of discrimination. Importantly, learning institutions must acquire and incorporate necessary resources and equipment to ensure learners with disabilities have parallel comfort when using educational facilities (Bryant et al., 2019). According to Lipkin and Okamoto (2015), all students must be sufficiently supported to derive optimal educational benefits. Having a disability should not be a limitation to accessing resources, as this could translate to poor educational attainment merely because a learner has a physical disability.

The ADA law applies to all learners experiencing any form of disability that limits one or several life activities, although the phrase “substantial limits” has not been elaborated or interpreted for preciseness. Life activities covered in the legislation range from simple processes, such as breathing, hearing, and seeing devoid of any form of aid, to being able to use the washroom independently (Bryant et al., 2019). Persons without disabilities should not experience any challenges or difficulties with activities that contribute to proper body functions, including speech, sight, and mobility (McLeskey et al., 2017). However, the ADA law has been reviewed and amended to incorporate various elements that had been omitted initially. For instance, the 2008 ADA amendments saw self-care, the performance of manual tasks, thinking, and learning incorporated into the list of major life activities (Lipkin & Okamoto, 2015). The ADA scope of life activities gives a clear glimpse of the possible effects of service interruptions on learners with disabilities.

As they are under the public space category, schools in the US must not discriminate against learners based on disability statuses. All students should have the opportunity to participate in available school programs and activities. An analysis of the basic forms of discrimination against ADA learners gives an overview of service interruption effects on performance and educational outcomes. Lipkin and Okamoto (2015) assert that discrimination against ADA students can manifest in the eligibility criteria where a school declines the application of a qualified learner for exhibiting a certain form of disability. The failure to improvise or make reasonable modifications in procedures and practices to grand equal access to school activities and programs is similarly a form of discrimination against ADA students (Walker & Smith, 2015). Interruptions on services, especially those affecting the normal processes and architectural design functions, affect ADA learners significantly, as they are unable to adjust until special provisions are availed. Learning institutions must remove physical barriers and ensure consistency in services for the certainty of easy movement and equal access to buildings.

Institutions may not necessarily meet every ADA student’s expectations due to the diversity of needs and scarcity of resources. Walker and Smith (2015) argue that the failure to ensure qualified students with disabilities are granted equal chances of enrollment, without being subjected to any unique or unfair treatment, amounts to discrimination. Lipkin and Okamoto (2015) posit that schools might not always have the capacity to accommodate students with learning disabilities, especially where the required modifications and redesigns are unrealistic or beyond institutional capabilities. However, educational institutions must consider the implications of various curriculum design modifications and other learning programs to suit ADA students’ needs. In such cases, ADA students have to cope with the maximum possible accommodation efforts in place. In such cases, a slight interruption of services can significantly affect ADA students, as they are already struggling with existing systems.

Students may be entitled to special services in school based on the type of disability and the scope of its effects. Walker and Smith (2015) posit that disabled students under ADA have varying learning capabilities and needs, which must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to create a suitable accommodation plan. For instance, individuals may be categorized as ADA students depending on whether they have an existing disorder, a temporary condition, or a recurrent limiting disability history. McLeskey et al. (2017) posit that the severity of one’s condition must be assessed independently, as seemingly slight service interruptions can have varying levels of effects on different ADA learners. An interference affecting the classroom lighting system may mean a lost lesson for a learner with eyesight problems. Students in need of hearing aids are similarly exposed to similar challenges in case of power interruptions affecting sound systems in lecturer halls.

Impairments categorized as special needs tend to evolve depending on the student’s age and study level in the academic ladder. Schools and educators may need to alter the systems or programs designed to accommodate individual learners with disabilities as they progress through the course of study. According to McLeskey et al. (2017), a system that suited a student with a particular learning disability at a given time may become obsolete later due to changes in the learner’s needs. The school setting becomes less accommodative in such cases, which renders the learning environment discriminative. Hence, the delicate nature of the systems designed to accommodate ADA students can be noted from the changing needs analogy, meaning slight interruption of supporting services compromises the learner’s experience significantly.

An interruption of service has far-reaching effects on ADA students’ learning outcomes than is the case with their peers. Having learning disabilities means that a student requires more support than the ordinary learner does. Walker and Smith (2015) assert that students with learning disabilities, although covered under the ADA, can seldom overcome the effects of service interruptions since they are usually in need of special attention and support. A simple interference in the systems established to aid their unique learning needs leaves them disoriented. They may require more time to adjust to the slight changes due to service interruptions before they can resume the normal course. In essence, special needs students are ordinarily in need of assistance to cope with the usual class setting. Therefore, educators and school management authorities should institute measures to help ADA learners whenever exposed and subjected to service interruptions. The choice and nature of interventions might depend on individual special learning needs.

In overview, it is apparent that schools must make an effort to accommodate students with disabilities according to the provisions of the ADA law of 1990. Learning institutions should conform to the minimum requirements stipulated in the act to support equal access and use of learning resources, regardless of learners’ disability statuses. However, schools may not always meet all ADA students’ expectations due to the diversity of needs and shortage of resources. The desired learning outcomes are also not always guaranteed for these learners due to service interruptions on support systems. A seemingly slight interference affecting classroom systems designed to aid learning for individuals with sight or hearing problems often disorients ADA students significantly. Recovery from the resulting effects may take much longer than anticipated because of these students’ special needs. Nonetheless, individuals exhibiting impairments requiring special attention tend to report learning difficulties also, limiting their ability to catch up fast once interrupted. Hence, educators and school authorities should strive to ensure the learning environment is devoid of the elements that could interrupt or interfere with systems installed to aid ADA students’ learning experience.


Americans with Disabilities Act, Publ. L. No. 101-336 (1990). Web.

Lipkin, P. H., & Okamoto, J. (2015). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for children with special educational needs. Pediatrics, 136(6), 1650-62. Web.

McLeskey, J. L., Rosenberg, M. S., & Westling, D. L. (2017). Inclusion: Effective practices for all students. Pearson.

Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., & Smith, D. D. (2019). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms. Sage Publications.

Walker, V. L., & Smith, C. G. (2015). Training paraprofessionals to support students with disabilities: A literature review. Exceptionality, 23(3), 170-191. Web.

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