State Capitol
RI Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services
"Helping Individuals with Disabilities to Choose, Find
and Keep Employment"

RI State Flag

Learning Disabilities

Rhode Island Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services
"Rhode Island Works"


The Rhode Island

“Learning Disabilities Project”


"Your beacon to the future"


The Rhode Island Learning Disabilities Project ...

is a unique Department of Human Services intra-agency initiative between the Office of Rehabilitation Services and the RIWorks. This collaborative relationship was created to help identify parents on cash assistance with learning disabilities, and to provide the necessary accommodations and vocational training programs in order for individuals to become independent and economically self-sufficient.

What is a Learning Disability?

Although there are several different definitions of learning disabilities, it is generally understood that a learning disability is a neurological condition that affects one's ability to obtain, process and express information. This condition manifests itself across the lifespan and can affect one's ability to listen, speak, read, write or perform mathematical computations.

Prevalence of Learning Disabilities

5-15% of the general population
25-40% of the FIP (TANF) population
50-80% of Adult Basic Education (ABE) students

Some Facts About Learning Disabilities (LD)

LD can affect anybody regardless of age, ethnicity, economic status or gender.

LD can be hereditary & often runs in families.

LD is a lifelong condition that can be manifested in many different ways, and throughout ones lifespan.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) and hyperactivity can and often does co-exist with a LD.

Individuals with LD can compensate for their difficulties with appropriate interventions, support, accommodations, and self-advocacy.

Who Is Eligible?

Individuals currently on RIWorks living in Rhode Island and who through screenings are believed to have a learning disability.

What Are Some of the Signs of a Learning Disability?

Receptive Language Deficits:

Difficulty in comprehending information presented orally or written

Difficulty transferring information presented orally

Expressive Language Deficits:

Difficulty in spelling and/or handwriting problems

Reading Deficits:

Difficulty reading applications or forms

Reverses letters, words or phrases

Processing Deficits:

Problems organizing and sequencing information

Mathematics Deficits:

Difficulty counting money or making change

Trouble balancing checkbook

Trouble with left/right orientation

Attention Deficits:

Easily distracted, short attention span

Difficulty concentrating and focusing

Memory, Reasoning, Processing Deficits:

Difficulty with short- or long-term memory

Poor reasoning and decision-making skills

Social Skills Deficits:

Poor self-esteem

Indifference to self-defeating attitudes

Social/interpersonal difficulties

The Steps in the Project ...

follow the 4 R's of assisting individuals with learning disabilities: RECOGNITION, REMEDIATION, REHABILITATION, and REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION. The following steps make up the project design:

1. L.D.Screening (Recognition)

Screening takes place at D.H.S. community offices and at two-week workshops. One of the screening tools used is the S.T.E.P. questionnaire. S = Did you ever STAY back in school? T= Do you have TROUBLE learning or remembering new information? E = Did you receive any EXTRA help in school? P = Do you have a PHYSICAL or mental impairment which prevents you from working?

2. Referral

A referral form is sent to the project manager or the ORS Liaison to initiate the application process. A clinical interview is held with the applicant where background information is obtained, including previous testing if available. Barriers to employment are identified. During the interview other screening tools may be utilized such as self-assessment, the LD checklist, or the Washington State LD screening tool.

3. Testing

There are several evaluations which may be used to assess the existence of a learning disability. In this project a licensed psychologist performs a clinical evaluation. The tests will typically consist of the following: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III), Woodcock Johnson Psycho-educational and additional tests of cognitive processing.

4. Eligibility/Individualized Plan for Employment (REMEDIATION)

Approximately 3 weeks following testing, the participant and the project manager or rehabilitation counselor will meet to go over the results of the testing and when appropriate, discuss the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). The IPE may include adult education classes (ABE, ESL, GED training), social skills development and vocational training.

5. Job Development/LD Specific Case Management (REHABILITATION)

The IPE may also include job development services include job training, job coaching and job placement services.

The LD Project Manager, Rehabilitation Counselor or Social Caseworker will become the focal point of contact for the participant and will assist in the facilitation and coordination of ancillary supports (e.g. Family Services, Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse Programs and Community Action Programs).


A reasonable accommodation may be provided to assist an individual in the obtainment of a GED or to assist an individual in a work environment. A 90-day follow-up period follows the initial hiring date. During this time "On-the-Job-Training" or Job Coaching may continue as a support for the customer.

Individuals with learning disabilities have often been overlooked throughout their lives. Experiencing "hidden disabilities", many participants have never been identified as having a specific learning disability.

The Learning Disabilities Project has in its first year provided numerous individuals with learning disabilities on public assistance their first clear picture of why they have had difficulty in obtaining, processing or retaining information throughout their lives. For some individuals this self-understanding has been a revelation, for others a confirmation of suspicions held for many years, and for many it becomes a catalyst on their road to independence and economic self-sufficiency.

For more information, contact:

Sharon Thistlewaite-Morra@ (401) 421-7005 ext. 348 (V);
Steve Brunero @ (401) 421-7005 ext. 354 (V);

Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services
40 Fountain Street
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: 401-421-7005
TTY: 401-421-7016
Spanish 401-272-8090
Fax: 401-222-3583


Rhode Island
Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services

The Rhode Island
“Learning Disabilities Project”
Resource Guide






Your beacon to the future

RI State Flag

Educational Services

Blackstone Valley Chapter Arc
115 Manton Avenue
Pawtucket, RI 02861
(401) 727-0150

Blackstone Valley Chapter Arc provides Adult Basic Education, instruction for adults with developmental disabilities.

Blackstone Valley Community Action Program
32 Goff Avenue
Pawtucket, RI 02860
(401) 723-4520

Offers GED and ESL instruction.

Bristol Warren Adult Education
790 Main Street
Warren, RI 02885
(401) 245-3392

Provides ESL, GED, and a continuing Adult Education Program.

Community College of Rhode Island
Knight Campus
400 East Avenue
Warwick RI 02886

Flanagan Campus
1762 Louisquisset Pike
Lincoln RI 02865

Providence Campus
One Hilton Street
Providence RI 02905

Academic Accommodations
Contact: Tracy Karrasinski
(401) 825-2305

CCRI offers academic accommodations for all students with a documented disability. Accommodations include, but are not limited to: tape recorded lectures, extended time, alternate format for exams and use of adapted computer equipment.

Access to Opportunity
Contact: Tracy Karrasinski
(401) 825-2305

Access to Opportunity is a grant-funded retention program that provides support services to first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities.

CCRI/REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes)

Contact: Pauline Hamlin
(401) 825-2290 (Knight Campus)

The REACH program is sponsored by CCRI and the RI Department of Human Services and provides services to FIP (Family Independence Program) participants who are interested in attending post secondary education. REACH offers informal academic LD assessment, TABE (Test of Adult Basic Education) testing, ESOL, GED Preparation, and remediation with one-to-one tutoring available tailored to the student’s individual learning needs. REACH services are also available at CCRI’s Newport site…contact the Knight Campus for details.

Cranston Adult Education
41 Heath Avenue
Cranston, RI 02910
(401) 785-8166

Offers ESL and GED programs for adults.

DaVinci Center for Community Progress
470 Charles Street
Providence, RI 02904
(401) 272-8010

Davinci Center provides classes in ESL, GED, and job readiness skills and career counseling to the general public.

Dorcas Place Parent Literacy Center
220 Elmwood Avenue
Providence RI 02907
(401) 273-8866

Dorcas Place provides specialized classroom and one-on-one tutoring instruction from basic literacy through GED preparation. Work readiness, job placement, and supportive social services are also available for learning disabled students.

Elmwood Community Center
PO Box 72750
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 461-7940

In addition to classroom training, business mentors are matched with participants and assist individuals with employment opportunities, interview techniques, provide internships, and career counseling.

Family Outreach Center, Inc.
11 Hawthorne Street
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 781-6996

A comprehensive agency with three components: licensed childcare, pre-GED, and GED and ESL education programs.

Federal Hill Tutorial Center
254 Atwells Avenue
Providence, RI
(401) 351-8059

Federal Hill Tutorial Center offers services for adults with learning disabilities at no cost.

Genesis Center
620 Potters Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 781-6110

The Genesis Center provides education and support services to immigrant and refugee families. Classes include ESL, GED, Computer and pre-employment training.

Institute for Labor Studies and Research
99 Bald Hill Road
Cranston, RI 02920
(401) 463-9900

Provides ABE, ESL and GED preparation and job specific instruction to employees of sponsoring companies using a cooperative labor/management mode.

International House of RI
8 Stimson Avenue
Providence, RI 02906
(401) 421-7181

Provides ESL classes and individual tutoring for all levels of language learning.

International Institute of RI
645 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 461-5940

The International Institute offers ESL and GED programs.

Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA)
260 W. Exchange Street
Suite 106
Providence RI 02903
(401) 861-0815

The LVA utilizes volunteers to provide individual tutoring to students in eight locations. Some sites have tutors trained in the “Wilson Reading System”, a phonics-based approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling skills to adults with dyslexia and LD. They also provide statewide literacy information and referral services.

Adult Correctional Institute (401) 462-2538
Coventry (401) 822-9103
Newport (401) 846-1265
North Kingstown (401) 294-3303
Providence (401) 351-0511
Warren (401) 247-2177
Westerly (401) 596-9411

* * *


One Reservoir Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 462-8909

175 Main Street
Pawtucket, RI 02860
(401) 722-3100 x124

4808 Tower Hill Road
Wakefield, RI 02880
(401) 789-9721 x108

470 Metacom Avenue
Warren, RI 02885
(401) 245-9300 x105

1330 Main Street
West Warwick, RI 02893
(401) 828-8382

219 Pond Street
Woonsocket, RI 02895
(401) 762-9010

Offers job placement services, GED testing, employment counseling, training and referrals.

Progresso Latino
626 Broad Street
Central Falls, RI 02863
(401) 728-5920

Provides ESL, GED preparation and Citizenship classes.

Project LEARN
Contact: Susan Grislis
PO Box 567
One Social Street
Woonsocket RI 02895
(401) 769-4200

Classes also available at:
Central Falls Free Public Library
205 Central Street
Central Falls RI 02863

Project LEARN provides individual instruction to adults with suspected or diagnosed learning disabilities. Certified instructors utilize the “Wilson Reading System”, a highly structured, multisensory, phonemic approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling.

Project RIRAL
162 Main Street, Room 404
Woonsocket, RI 02895
(401) 762-3841

Offers pre-GED, GED, ESL, pre-vocational, and job readiness classes.

Providence Housing Authority
100 Broad Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 751-6400

Offers social services, job counseling, job placement, referral, academic advising and GED testing.

Rhode Island Outreach Programs
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Whipple Hall, Room 108
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 456-8698

Provides computer assisted English language learning (CAELI), and computer assisted literacy and math (CALM) skills training.

Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service
25 George Street Mailing Address:
Providence RI 02912 Brown University
(401) 863-2338 Box 1974
Sara Whetstone, Coordinator Providence, RI 02912
Alison Simmons, Supervisor

The Swearer Center offers innovative, community-based programs to fill gaps in existing services, including the following:

PIE (Partners in Education)

PIE is a tutoring program serving women who are unable to attend traditional adult education courses due to lack of transportation and childcare. While not specifically designed for individuals with LD, the one-to-one tutoring that is provided by volunteers in the student’s home may be useful to individuals in need of adult basic education or GED preparation.

Swearer ABE Program

Swearer’s Adult Basic Education program provides individual tutoring to adult learners in various locations in the Greater Providence Community. The instruction is not LD-specific, but individuals with LD may find the one-to-one approach helpful.

Travelers Aid of Rhode Island (Crossroads RI)
160 Broad Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 521-2255

Provides ABE, GED preparation to homeless and those in transition.

Tri Town Community Action Agency
1126 Hartford Avenue
Johnston, RI 02919
(401) 351-2750

Offers job related instruction and career counseling services.

University of Rhode Island – College of Continuing Education
80 Washington Street, Room 245
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 277-5036

LEAP is a course designed for adults who wish to pursue a college degree, but require skill enhancement in reading, writing and computers.

Urban League of Rhode Island
246 Prairie Avenue
Providence, RI 02905
(401) 351-5000

Offers job related instruction, vocational planning, and career development services.

Warwick Area Adult Learning Center
575 Centerville Road
Warwick, RI 02886
(401) 734-3156

Provides ABE, GED and ESL literacy services as well as vocational training for adults who qualify.

The Education Exchange
Stedman Government Center
4808 Tower Hill Road
Wakefield, RI 02892
(401) 783-0293

Provides personalized instruction in small group settings for ESL, GED, basic literacy, ABE, External Diploma Program , and Wilson Reading Program tutoring for adults with language learning difficulties to residents in Washington County.

West End Community Center
109 Bucklin Street
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 781-4242

Offers alternative educational programs for high school
drop-outs and at-risk youths. Also offers GED programs

Centers at a Glance
(Additional educational and social resources
depending on availability)

An Even Start in Newport – (401) 845-8579
Capital City Community Centers – (401) 455-3880
Chamber Education Foundation – Warwick - (401) 732-7700
Commonwealth Literacy Corps – Bristol Community College (508) 678-2811
Pawtucket Adult Education – (401) 729-6293
South Providence Neighborhood Ministries – (401) 785-2126
University Associated Program of RI at RIC – (401) 456-8072
Workforce Partnership of Great RI – (401) 277-2090

Advocacy/Support Services

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Hotline
(800) 514-0301 (voice) (800) 514-0383 (TTY)

The ADA Hotline provides information and assistance regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and can answer questions about how the ADA protects individuals with learning disabilities.

Center for Hispanic Policy and Advocacy
421 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 467-0111

RI Disability Law Center
349 Eddy Street
Providence RI 02903
(401) 831-3150 (voice) (401) 831-5335 (TTY)

This organization provides legal assistance or aid for people with special needs or disability-related issues.

The Governor’s Commission on Disabilities
41 Cherry Dale Court
Cranston RI 02920
(401) 462-0100 (voice) (401) 462-0101 (TTY)

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD)
PO Box 8251
Cranston RI 02920
(401) 943-9399

CHADD provides information and support groups for those with ADD/ADHD.

Rhode Island Legal Services
56 Pine Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 274-2652

Legal services provided in certain family, housing, elderly, health and public benefit cases.

Rhode Island Parent Information Network (RIPIN)
175 Main Street
Pawtucket RI 02860
(401) 727-4144

Many adults with LD, ADD/ADHD, or dyslexia also have children with these problems. RIPIN is a non-profit organization that provides information, training, referrals, support, and networking services to parents who may need assistance in getting appropriate services for their children.

Learning Disabilities of America

Linda DiCecco – Rhode Island Representative
(401) 946-6968

LDA is a national organization promoting public awareness, advocacy, educational intervention, employment opportunities and related services for adults and children with learning disabilities.

Employment Services

Rhode Island Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS)

40 Fountain Street
Providence RI 02903
(401) 421-7005

The Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS) assists eligible individuals with disabilities choose, prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment. Applications can be completed by mail or by attending a group orientation session. The FIP/ORS “Learning Disabilities Project” helps identify parents on FIP cash assistance with learning disabilities and provides needed services in order for them to become economically self-sufficient. As with other ORS services, individuals need to have a goal of employment to participate. Call Lynn Landi at (401) 421-7005 x348 for more information.

Goodwill Industries, Inc.
100 Houghton Street
Providence RI 02904
(401) 861-2080

Goodwill provides vocational evaluation, vocational assessments, job placement and other employment-related services to individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment.

People In Partnerships
200 Main Street, Suite 230
Pawtucket, RI 02860
(401) 727-8002

PIP is a vocational training and placement program with programs in Child Care, Certified Nursing Assistant, Food Service, Housekeeping/Maintenance, Human Services, and Office Assistant/Computers.

Internet Resources

Division of Adult Education and Literacy Clearinghouse
US Department of Education

ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education

International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

Job Accommodations Network (JAN)

LD Online: Learning Disability Resources

Learning Disabilities of America (LDA)

Literacy Resources/Rhode Island

National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center (NALLDC)

National Institute for Literacy

LD Assessment and Accommodations

URI Testing Service

Feinstein College of Continuing Education
80 Washington Street
Providence RI 02903

Contact: Bob Mason at
Rhode Island Department of Education
(401) 222-4600 x2180
E-mail: ride/

The RI Department of Education and URI Testing Service have entered into a cooperative agreement to provide psycho- educational evaluations for economically disadvantaged students enrolled in adult education programs in RI. First priority is given to students in programs that receive funding from the RI Department of Education. Adult education program staff make the request for testing in writing. Contact Bob Mason at the RI Dept of Education for details of the referral procedure.

RI Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services
FIP/ORS “Learning Disabilities Project”

40 Fountain Street
Providence RI 02903
(401) 421-7005

Individuals who believe that they have a learning disability, which substantially interferes with their ability to get or keep a job and want assistance may be eligible for an LD assessment and accommodations through ORS. Applicants who receive FIP (Family Independence Program) cash assistance for themselves and their children may contact the ORS/FIP Learning Disabilities Project – Lynn Landi at 421-7005 x348 for more information. Individuals not on FIP can contact the ORS Intake at (401) 421-7005 for more information on applying for services. Vocational accommodations, which may be provided, include assistive technology devices such as spellcheckers, tape recorders, etc.

DHS does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, age, religion or sex in acceptance for or provision of services, employment or treatment in its educational and other programs and activities. For further information about this policy, contact: the Community Relations Liaison Officer, (401) 462-2130 or TDD (hearing impaired) (401) 462-6239.

If you need this in an alternate format (i.e., Braille, diskette, cassette), please contact Sharon DiPinto at (401) 421-7005 ext. 318.

This resource was compiled from
information provided to the:
RI Department of Human Services
Office of Rehabilitation Services
40 Fountain Street
Providence, RI 02903

Tel: 401.421.7005
TTY: 401.421.7016
Spanish: 401.272.8090
Fax: 401.222.3583
RI Relay: 711

Inquiries may be directed to:
RIWorks/LD Liaison to DHS,
Sharon Thistlewaite-Morra @
401.421.7005 ext. 348 (V)
Steve Brunero @
401.421.7005 ext. 354 (V)


State Seal 2003 State of Rhode Island ~ Department of Human Services ~ Office of Rehabilitation Services DHS Logo
40 Fountain Street, Providence, RI 02903
401.421.7005 (V) ~ 401.421.7016 (TDD) ~ 401.272.8090 (Spanish)~ 401.222.3574 (Fax)
Privacy Statement
Last updated 9/18/09