Saturday, February 8, 2014

What Can YOU Do to Help Dyslexia Legislation Become a Reality?

In January, we published a blog article entitled New Legislation & Research-Based Tools to Help Struggling Readers. The focus of the article was on the recent efforts of Congressmen Bill Cassidy, M.D. for federal dyslexia legislation.

Dr. Cassidy is the Co-Chair of the House Dyslexia Caucus, who submitted a resolution (H.Res. 456, 113th Congress) on January 10, 2014, calling for the U.S. House of Representatives to acknowledge the impact of dyslexia and urge schools and educational agencies to address its impact on students. This resolution at the federal level has the very real potential to affect the nation, which would be a tremendous help to our nation's children challenged with dyslexia or other reading differences.

The response to our article with its news about this resolution was exceptional, with many readers asking, “What else can I do to help make dyslexia laws a reality in my state and for my child?” Although the article included basic information about contacting state legislators to express voter opinion on the topic of dyslexia legislation, readers wanted to do even more.

What YOU Can Do---Now!

In addition to contacting one’s U.S. legislators via phone or email to give your opinion on H.Res. 456, it is just as important to become and stay current with developments concerning dyslexia legislation at the state level, both passed and pending. In that way, you will be accurately informed and have much more credibility when speaking to your state representatives and senators as well as other interested individuals in your local community.

How can you access information about current developments on this topic? Keep in mind that the dyslexia laws and bills that have been introduced and passed are the direct result of parents and caring teachers who came together in a grass roots movement called Decoding Dyslexia. There is definitely strength in numbers, so if you want to change things in your state, find and become active in your state’s chapter of Decoding Dyslexia. If such a group has not yet been established in your state, seriously consider taking the needed steps to create one. Currently, 43 states have a Decoding Dyslexia group. (See link below to help you locate your state's group.)

Keeping in contact with your Decoding Dyslexia organization will allow you to be accurately informed and even more effective in your communications with legislators. Your group will help provide you with the latest information about dyslexia legislation in your state. In addition, each of the 43 states’ Decoding Dyslexia groups has a page on Facebook, the popular social media site. Locate your Decoding Dyslexia group’s Facebook page and “Like” it to stay abreast of the latest news about dyslexia---both statewide and nationally.

In these ways, you will have a hand in helping to affect the writing and submission of resolutions on behalf of citizens who struggle daily with dyslexia. Remember that 1 in 5 U.S. school-age children is estimated to have some form of dyslexia. They are counting on your help!

Dyslexia Legislation Update

At this writing, 12 states have dyslexia laws. In addition, 7 other states are working to get dyslexia laws passed (have bills/resolutions making their way through legislatures).

New Jersey
New Jersey took a unique approach in creating its legislation. Instead of a single large law, the state’s legislators divided dyslexia legislation into 6 separate bills. Two have already passed, and the third – which would require public schools to screen for dyslexia – looks like it may very well pass.

“Dyslexia Is Real” Bill Introduced in Tennessee Legislature (Jan. 22, 2014, Nashville, TN)
After years of advocacy and discussion regarding the needs of students with reading disorders, House Bill 1735 was filed by State Representative and House Majority Whip, Cameron Sexton and Senate Bill 2002 by Senator Becky Duncan Massey. Efforts to pass a bill to benefit students with dyslexia picked up steam after members of the Tennessee branch of the International Dyslexia Association joined forces with members of Decoding Dyslexia-Tennessee and other interested individuals to form the Dyslexia Legislative Alliance.

New York
New York State has pending legislation for Dyslexia in the Senate (S2496) and Assembly (A2775).

Pennsylvania has a dyslexia pilot program bill in the works, SB 873.

Illinois introduced a bill in October 2013, HB 3700, to require public schools to screen students early for dyslexia or other reading disabilities.

On January 27, 2014, MO State Representative Eric Burlison was the first to propose meaningful legislation to help Missouri families dealing with dyslexia. House Bill 1614 was heard by the MO House Elementary and Secondary Education committee on February 19, 2014. Status of the bill is pending.

Helpful Resources for Dyslexia Legislation

Decoding Dyslexia
Each Decoding Dyslexia State Movement has a FaceBook page and many have websites and other social media outlets. Currently, 43 states have a Decoding Dyslexia group. To find yours, visit

Follow progress on all dyslexia (and other) legislation across the U.S. by visiting this website.

Dyslegia: A Legislative Information Site
New US & State Laws about Dyslexia and Reading Education

State Dyslexia Laws
This webpage (from the site listed above) provides a list of laws related to dyslexia that are currently on the books (and the year of enactment).

Find Your Representative (in the U.S. House of Representatives)

Contact Elected Officials
You can call, e-mail or mail U.S. state and federal elected officials and government agencies via the information provided by this direct link.

The Constituent
Find your district and join your constituent network. Subscribe to topics and track related legislation. Monitor your representatives and tell them how to vote.

For information on customizable reading tools for ADHD & other reading challenges: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info & support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
1. Viktor Krum at
2. Brennan Innovators, LLC at

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