Specific Learning Difficulty

Specific Learning Difficulties in UCC

The Disability Support Service (DSS) offers a Specific Learning Difficulties (SLD) Support Programme to registered UCC students. The programme is available to students with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. An Advisor to Students with Specific Learning Difficulties is available to meet with students to discuss the supports available, to carry out a needs assessment and to register students with the DSS.

Advice is also offered to prospective students, as well as those students already going to university who want to be screened for a specific learning difficulty. 

If you want to view the supports available please download our SpLD Student Guide 2017 (776kB) 

If you would like to register with the DSS, please contact the Advisor for Students with Specific Learning Difficulties, Siobhan Colclough

Categories of SLD


Dyslexia: difficulty with words

Dysgraphia: difficulty with writing

Dyspraxia: motor difficulties

Dyscalculia: a difficulty in performing mathematical calculations

Audio Processing Disorder:  relates to how effectively and efficiently the brain is able to use auditory information, especially that which contains language.



Students going to college with dyslexia may have a difficulty with the use of both written and oral language. This is due in part to processing difficulties, including visual and auditory perceptual skills, and is not necessarily related to prior education. They may also ?nd some learning tasks cause concern due to difficulties with short-term memory, concentration and organisation. Dyslexia varies between individuals, and can occur in people of all abilities. Its effects on study can be modi?ed by the use of a variety of approaches and strategies.  Dyslexic people often have individual talents as well as individual dif?culties. Students going to University with dyslexia can avail of a Dyslexia Screening Service, provided by the UCC Disability Support Service. UCC Support is also offered to non-UCC students going to college in Ireland with dyslexia.


Dyspraxia/ Developmental Coordination Disorder

Dyspraxia is a developmental condition that affects coordination.  Students going to college with dyspraxia may have their movement, thoughts and perception impacted and dyspraxia can affect speech, ?ne motor movement, whole body movement and hand-eye coordination, sequencing and organisation.  It is quite possible for dyspraxia to overlap with Dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Students going to University with dyspraxia can avail of a Dyspraxia Screening Service, provided by the UCC Disability Support Service.



Dysgraphia is a developmental disorder that targets motor skills and affects a person's ability to write. The word simply means diffculty expressing yourself in writing. This diffculty often affects a person’s  coordination and writing skills but does not re?ect a person’s intelligence.



Persons with dyscalculia have difficulties with mathematics and mental arithmetic but possess normal language abilities.  Common mistakes are made such as omitting and reversing numbers and transposing errors (to move (a term) from one side of an algebraic equation to the other side, reversing its sign to maintain equality) in algebra. Abstract concepts such as time and direction, sequences of events and memory for names are also features of dyscalculia.  A person with dyscalculia can become confused by timetables and lack a good sense of direction.


Audio Processing Disorder

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder, describes difficulties in the way that students process auditory (i.e. sound) information.  Students with Auditory Processing Disorder usually have normal hearing but possess a difficulty in processing the sound information that is heard.  This leads to difficulties recognising and interpreting sounds and in particular speech sounds (the sounds of language).

Guidelines, Useful Publications & Forms

A list of the DSS guidelies, publications and forms is available from this link


1. What do I do if I think I might have a specific learning difficulty?

If you are a registered student at the University, the Disability Support Service may be able to advise you of  what your next step should be.

Please visit SLD Screening Programme


2. How can I understand my educational psychologist report better?

In your assessment with an educational psycholoist you would have completed a series of tasks which measured your overall cognitive ability and your level of functioning in reading, writing and spelling. The difference between these two sets of tests and how they compare help provide information on your learning style that is unique to you. For example, it is often the case that a student’s competency in literacy skills is less than would be expected for someone of their level of cognitive ability.  You must take time to read and understand your report so that you can ascertain the details as well as the reasons for you being identified with a specific learning difficulty. It should in fact tell you nothing that you were not already aware of, but it will help to explain aspects of your learning that may have frustrated you in the past. The report can be used to provide reasons for past difficulties and help you develop strategies for overcoming them. If you are in doubt, it is best to get your Disability Advisor to go through the report with you.


3. What problems do students with Learning Difficulties in Higher Education face?

Students with Learning Difficulties may experience all or some of the following problems:

Reading: Many students experience word recognition difficulties, and some find it difficult to keep their place in dense text. These difficulties, together with poor memory and poor reading speed, can result in reading comprehension problems. Students may find it difficult to identify the main points in a passage, and scanning can also be a problem. These students will need to read a text a number of times in order to 'digest' its contents. Proof reading can be a problem for dyslexic students and they may fail to identify their spelling errors, even when these are inconsistent.

Writing: Most students experience significant problems with spelling and many will re-write sentences in order to avoid words they are unable to spell. This has obvious implications for expression and style. Other difficulties may include poor punctuation, poor sentence structures, misuse of 'connecting' words and the omission of functional words. Many students also present poor essay-planning skills and their written work may lack structure, order and fluency. Note taking can be a serious problem for many students. They may also need greater exposure to and practice with a new word before it becomes part of their working vocabulary.

Mathematical symbols: Many students have difficulties in recognising mathematical or scientific symbols. E.g. Confusion of x (Multiplication sign) with + (Addition sign).

In addition the student may experience the following problems:

  • Failure to meet deadlines and poor time management
  • Being late for class
  • Needing extended time to complete written assignments
  • Taking much longer to complete a task than other students
  • Students know what they want to say but find it difficult to communicate their thoughts in written form
  • Difficulty following instructions


4. Is there help for using library resources?

If you have difficulty using the library catalogues please ask the staff at the information desk for assistance. Students are advised to sign up for one of the library tours that run in the first term. Please contact the Boole library for more information or check their website at http://booleweb.ucc.ie/


5. Does the DSS have AT/Computer facilities?

The Disability Support Service operates an assistive technology lab on the Q floor of the Boole library. This lab is open to all students who are registered with the Disability Support Service. This lab has computers with Read and Write Gold software installed. This software is used by students with dyslexia to help them improve their reading and writing skills and has also been mainstreamed across campus.


6. How do I contact the Disability Advisor for Students with SLD?

You may contact the Advisor via email or by calling in person to the DSS and arranging an appointment. Office hours for appointments are Wednesday - Friday. 


7. How do I make my department aware of my difficulties?

Upon registration with the DSS, students are provided with a Learning and Educational Needs Summary known as a LENS for short. It is the students responsibility to take the LENS document to their academic department so they are aware that the student is registered with the DSS.


8. Can I get an extension for an assignment through the DSS?

No, all extensions must be requested by the student from the academic department.


9. Can I record my lectures if I have difficulty taking notes?

Please speak to your advisor. Forms may be made available to you to request permission from your lecturers.




RED: Online Academic Skills

RED (Resources for Education) has been especially designed for all UCC students, to help them with their academic skills. It has sections on notetaking, preparing for exams and writing essays. It also has how-to guides, and tips for giving presentations. You can check it out at: www.ucc.ie/en/red/


Disability Support Service

Seirbhís Tacaíochta do Dhaoine faoi Mhíchumas

South Lodge, UCC, College Road, Cork

Funding Bodies