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"Disability" vs "Difference"-The Lens of Public Perception
Dyslexia is a Learning Difference
While it is vital for individuals with learning differences to be eligible for accommodations, it is important to begin to reframe public perception and legislature to use the word “difference” instead of “disability.” Dyslexia is not a disability, it is a learning difference with inherent unique strengths as well as challenges.
- An inclusive society recognizes that the differences between people are natural and beneficial. These include differences in culture, race, sex, nationality, sexuality, spiritual orientation, age—and learning styles.
- Traditional schooling offers instruction only within a narrow band of the broad spectrum of learning styles.
- Broadening the spectrum: Students must be tested in order to be eligible for accommodations and assistive technology, which can include fees parents must pay for these tests. Unfortunately parents must often advocate very strongly for their children—this may include getting a lawyer to ensure that some school systems take proper steps.
- Where funding and awareness is available, instruction that fits a broader range of student needs in schools and colleges is available—see links below.
- Where funding and awareness is not available, students’ and parents’ choices are limited and brilliant minds are kept in prison: 32% of students with dyslexia/LD drop out of high school or do not receive a regular diploma. 50% of youth in the juvenile justice systemhave dyslexia/LD.
Here are some helpful links regarding ADA and accommodations for kids and college students:
Tip: This is the book to get to help advocate for your dyslexic child at school!
This book will help you untangle the intricacies and help you advocate for your dyslexic child.
Dyslexia Advocate! How to Advocate for a Child with Dyslexia within the Public Education System by Kelli Sandman-Hurley
Made by Dyslexia Pledge for companies, educators and governments to pledge to value dyslexic thinking, and to begin taking positive steps towards supporting dyslexia
Follow the link to read and share the Made by Dyslexia Pledge for companies, educators and governments to pledge to value dyslexic thinking, and to begin taking positive steps towards supporting dyslexia: https://www.madebydyslexia.org/assets/downloads/MadeByDyslexiaPledge.pdf
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
IDEA is legislation that began in 1975 as EHA (Education for All Handicapped Children) and was renamed to IDEA in 1990 that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. Most relevant to students with dyslexia are these six main elements:
- Individualized Education Program or IEP.
- Free Appropriate Public Education or FAPE.
- Least Restrictive Environment or LRE.
- Appropriate Evaluation.
- Parent and Teacher Participation.
- Procedural safeguards
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA became law in 1990 and new amendments were put into effect in 2009. The ADA helps ensure equal opportunities in school and in the workplace. For people with dyslexia, this means they are eligible for the accommodations they need to perform well in school and at work. The Act protects against discrimination.
Dyslexic Student Mentors
It’s hugely helpful for dyslexic students to have an also-dyslexic mentor a few years older than them. Eye to Eye is an organization that helps match up students with student mentors: