Learning disabilities

A learning disability affects the way a person learns new things in any area of life, not just in education.

All people with a learning disability are people first with the right to lead their lives like any others, with the same opportunities and responsibilities, and to be treated with dignity and respect.

A learning disability affects the way a person understands information and how they communicate. Around 1.5 million people in the UK have one. This means they can have difficulty:

  • Understanding new or complex information;
  • Learning new skills; and
  • Coping independently.

A learning disability can be mild, moderate or severe. Some people with a mild learning disability can talk easily and look after themselves, but take a bit longer than usual to learn new skills. Others may not be able to communicate at all and have more than one disability. A learning disability is not the same as a learning difficulty or mental illness.

People with learning disabilities tend to have poorer health than the rest of the population. They can face challenges in accessing healthcare and improving their own health. See the Easyhealth website for easily accessible health information.

The Mencap website contains information about learning disabilities as well as links to a range of services.

Additional information from NHS Choices

See the NHS Choices pages below for more information on learning disabilities: