2012 Survey Report on LDs in Canadians 15 years and older

Statistics Canada 2012

Statistics Canada has released a summary report on results of the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD). In this survey, adults (15 and older) with a learning disability were identified as those who answered the question “Do you think you have a condition that makes it difficult in general for you to learn? This may include learning disabilities such as dyslexia, hyperactivity, attention problems, as well as other conditions” or “Has a teacher, doctor or other health care professional ever said that you have a learning disability?” The frequency and severity of their difficulties with daily activities were also taken into account in including the respondents as having a learning disability. (Note: respondents with intellectual disabilities might not have been screened out, if they reported themselves to have a learning disability.)

The prevalence of learning disabilities ranged by age from 2.0 % to 3.1 % of the population, with an average of 2.3%. Learning disability rates among men and women were not significantly different. 96.3% of respondents who reported a learning disability also reported at least one other type of disability.


Among the respondents who were currently not attending school, 33% had not completed high school but 35.6% had completed postsecondary education. Among those who currently were in school or had recently been in school, almost all (97.8%) stated that their disability directly impacted their educational experience. The most common impacts were taking longer to achieve education milestones, changing their choice of courses or career, and taking fewer courses. Many also reported social difficulties, including being avoided or excluded, and being bullied.

51 % of respondents who recently attended school required some sort of ‘education aid or service’. Of these, 93.3% stated that at least some of their needs had been met, while 6.7% felt that none of their needs had been met. Most respondents (about 30 – 40%) named extended time for tests, help from an aide or tutor and/or modified courses as needed supports, while fewer (about 8 – 13%) said they needed technology supports such as such as specialized software, recording devices, and audio/e-book devices. However, when asked about learning disability-specific aids and devices, such as computers with voice recognition, about 32.8% stated they needed at least one type of learning aid, and of these 41.1% reported this need was not met, usually because the cost was too high.


Only 39.1 % of respondents in the 25 to 34 age group and 37.5 % in the 35 to 44 age group were employed. (Note: these figures seem low, and may reflect the fact that respondents with intellectual disabilities who identified as having learning disabilities were not screened out.) The most commonly cited deterrents to entering the labour force reported by adults with a learning disability were inadequate training or experience, a lack of locally available jobs, and having been unsuccessful in the past. Of those employed, 39% required modified work hours. Among those with employment income, median employment incomes for adults with a learning disability were less than half for those without any disability ($16,500 and $34,400 respectively).

The Statics Canada report concluded that:

“Adults with a learning disability experience difficulties with many aspects of their day to day lives. Poorer educational outcomes, relative to adults without any disability, can be observed for all ages. Lower levels of education and training translate to employment disadvantage and labour force discouragement, and in turn much lower levels of income and higher levels of reliance on government transfers. Furthermore, their learning disability is likely to be one of several disabilities, which in combination, may negatively influence their education and employment experiences.”

The screening process of this survey may mean that the sample of respondents counted under learning disability may have been too broad; nevertheless the results show that there is a long way to go in improving the outcomes of individuals with learning disabilities.

Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012 – Learning disabilities among Canadians aged 15 years and older, 2012