In this paper, similarities and differences are outlined between adults with self reported learning disabilities (SRLD) drawn from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) data on adult literacy in The Netherlands and Flanders. These results are discussed in terms of striking differences in the educational context within which the adults developed. The literacy skills of SRLD adults in The Netherlands are superior to SRLD adults in Flanders. This is interpreted in terms of societal acceptance of disability. Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.