Decoding Dyslexia VA

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All we want for the Holidays…..


We are asking families from around the state to once again reach out to their state representatives and let their voices be heard!  Just two easy steps and we can start to make positive change for the state of VA for our students with dyslexia.

Two Steps!!!

1 – Find your Legislator! Here:
2 – Write an email and/or make a phone call

SAMPLE LETTER (or create your own, personalize your story, include pictures and email it to your legislator.)

Be sure to include your name and address

Dear XXX,
I am reaching out today to increase awareness for dyslexia. I support the mission put forth by Decoding Dyslexia VA and would like you to review some of their information found here:  This is an important issue to our family.
We are advocating for Virginia to implement:

· Teacher/staff training on dyslexia, its warning signs and appropriate intervention strategies

· Early screening tests for dyslexia to include parental notification

· Evidenced-based dyslexia remediation programs implemented with fidelity which can be accessed by both general and special education populations

· Access to appropriate “assistive technologies” in the public school setting for students with dyslexia

Thank you for your time and service!

123 any st
town, VA zip


“Hello, my name is XXX, I am a constituent of Senator/Delegate XXXX. I am calling today in support of raising dyslexia awareness. I would like make sure your office is aware that this is an important issue to our family.  I would like to encourage your office to learn more about dyslexia and the impact on VA families. Thank you for you time and service!”

You can also make an appointment with your representatives and visit them in person at either their district or Richmond office.  Please find additional talking points here:

AIM VA and Decoding Dyslexia VA


Seen above from left to right. Ian Moore, AIM VA trainer; Shannon Duncan, DDVA Parent; Joyce Sharp, AIM VA trainer



We here at DDVA believe that getting a child and parents to the appropriate resources and information as fast as possible along their journey helps both the parents and the child.  What we are so excited about sharing with you here is that this resource and opportunity will help families of children with dyslexia served by IEP’s in VA AND help schools and faculty where training and information may also be diffucult to locate on AIM VA, Accessible Instructional Material in VA.

If you are not familiar with AIM VA, here is a link and a quick overview:
AIM-VA provides accessible instructional materials at no cost to Virginia K-12 students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Accessible instructional materials are alternative print materials, (e.g., Braille, electronic files, etc.) that can be delivered to and used by students who are not able to use traditional print formats. AIM-VA staff provide teachers with training and technical assistance on how to select and use accessible instructional materials with students.

AIM VA recently reached out and asked if we could help connect their trainers with VA families and educators. They will come out and train at Parent Resources Centers, SEAC meetings, PTA hosted events, Parent coffees, faculty meetings and just about anywhere there might be a need.

Here is a list of topics too!

AIM-VA Training Topics are below.

General Overview: What is AIM? What do we provide? (new users)
Features (accessibility of formats)
Laws, rules, and regulations
AIM updates (existing users)
Site navigation/use/features
Portal navigation/use/features
Use of Partner Sites (Learning Ally and Bookshare)
Use of assistive technology programs (DJ R:OL and Read Hear)
Administrative roles and responsibilities as they relate to AIM-VA
AIMVA seminar (guided by user questions)

We would like to say thank you and DDVA is super excited to be part of this conversation with AIM VA!

Please feel free to contact the awesome folks below with questions or ideas.  It would be wonderful to spread the word about AIM VA and get more children to the assistive technology they need.

Ian Moore, AIM VA Trainer
Joyce Sharp, AIM VA Trainer
Stacey Schwartz, AIM VA Trainer

Me Too! Campaign

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month! 

Decoding Dyslexia VA would like to join together with our parents and educators during this month to celebrate our community.  In an effort to increase dyslexia awareness in our state we are asking for you to consider hosting a Dyslexia Support Group during the month of October. Big or Small each gathering will make a difference to our community.

Below we have put together a step by step how to guide to host your support group meeting, to include printable sheets, flyers and topic suggestions.

There is nothing better than hearing the words “Me Too” from someone on a similar journey.

The Me Too! Campaign starts Oct 1, Join Us!!!!!


How-to-Guide: Organizing a Dyslexia Support Meeting

 Commit to holding a support meeting

  1. Pick a date and time
  2. Choose a venue
    1. Library
    2. Schools
    3. Community Centers
    4. Churches
    5. Starbucks, Panera or coffee shop
    6. Homes
  3. Contact DDVA asap with your event details, we will share and publicize on our social media platforms
  4. Advertise through:
    1. Local distribution lists
    2. Produce a paper flyer (optional) Template found below
    3. Word of mouth
    4. School PTAs
    5. Your personal social media pages
  5. Create a topic focus
    1. Start a discussion based on a specific IDA fact sheet
    2. Discuss getting involved at a local/state/federal level
    3. IEPs or 504 Accommodations, “what works”
    4. Assistive technology (demonstration)
    5. Invite a professional in the field of dyslexia to share their expertise (optional)
    6. Watch Embracing Dyslexia or another related film
  6. Day of the meeting:
    1. Bring refreshments or not (it’s been done successfully both ways)
    2. DDVA suggests setting up:
      1. A reference resource list can be found here:
      2. Resource table (if willing to pick up in Fairfax and if it is available)
  1. Use a sign in sheet available from DDVA to have attendees entered into our database for future communication
  2. Have name tags and pens available (optional)
  3. DDVA mission statement and goals one pager available to introduce the grassroots movement
  4. Highlight the support meetings as a place to build community and lend support to each other
  5. Introduce discussion topic
  6. Facilitate questions and conversations
  7. Steer discussion into solution driven areas if one or more of your attendees gets ‘unnecessarily’ negative for an extended time
  8. Close with appreciation for parents taking the time to join DDVA
  9. Take pictures for DDVA to post on social media platforms
  10. Follow up on questions posed to DDVA
  11. Send sign up sheet to Cameron Hoffman to be entered into our DDVA database

Printable Flyer Template

(click on image, then right click and save to your files for future printing)


What is an Ombudsman?

Thank you group

First, we would like to take a minute to thank John Eisenburg and Pat Abrams of the ‪‎Virginia Dept Of Education‬ Special Education Dept for taking time to sit down with DDVA earlier this month!

Second, Resource Alert!!! DDVA families who are struggling in school, we (VDOE and DDVA) encourage you to reach out to the state ‪ombudsman.

Q: What is an Ombudsman?

A: “Ombudsman” is a Swedish word meaning citizen representative or advocate. An ombudsman is a person who serves as a ‘designated neutral’ who advocates for a fair process.

Q: What does an Ombudsman do?

A: The ombudsman acts as a source of information and referral, aids in answering individuals’ questions, and assists in the resolution of concerns and issues. The ombudsman serves as a resource to parents in non-legal special education matters.

How do I contact the ombudsman?

Gloria Dalton, Parent Ombudsman
Phone: 804-371-7420 or 800-422-2083

For more information please visit the VA Department of Education Website here:



DDVA Meets Scott Sonnon

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DDVA member Kristin Kane and her family had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Sonnon.


If you don’t know who Scott Sonnon is, or if you haven’t had the opportunity to watch his recent TEDx video, take 15 minutes to watch.  When your done, come on back and let it all sink in.



Wow, right?

Ok, fast forward to recent news that a speaking tour is in the works!  I know, I know we will keep you posted about Virginia!

Wait it get’s better…. Scott has asked for our community’s help with his presentation.  Talk about really representing our kids and their strengths.

Below you will find Scott Sonnon’s request and the guidelines of how we can get involved.  Please spread the word!!  What a tremendous opportunity for our dyslexic kids to shine, and to be appreciated by all who come out to see this tour.

Cheers, Decoding Dyslexia VA


Scott’s Request:

Dear parents of our proud dyslexic amateur artists,

I am about to give the first of many free admission public spending engagements for Decoding Dyslexia, on August 11 in Michigan. (The national tour is being organized for 2015, intending to be coordinated between DD, Eye to Eye and the Museum of Discovery.)

In my multi-media, audience interactive, town-hall presentations, I’ll be using a Mac Keynote overhead projection of visual imagery to aid in the multi-sensory grokking of the concepts discussed. I need drawings which illustrate 6 key concepts. If your child would want to volunteer, and I use their illustration in the presentation, I’ll give them full credit on the slide and in the videos to be published free to YouTube. Message me in private here and I’ll give you the 5 concepts from which to select one or more to draw and submit. I’ll only be selecting one drawing per child so I can showcase the diversity of talents from our “1 in 5s” wunderkin. Deadline is AUG03 and selections made on AUG04.

I’m so looking forward to their wonderful drawings!

We are Legion,

Scott Sonnon

Chief Operations Officer



Here’s the request I’ve been sending the parents who’re contacting me, so I can both involve our kids in my presentation AND celebrate their talents AND offer a multi-sensory presentation!

Dear parents,

Please ask your child to select one or more of these illustrations to create:

1. A drawing of “Positive Perspective” – how what seems to be a negative, seen through a reflection, like a mirror, pool of water, a light casting a shadow, etc, can be your most powerful positive!

2. A drawing of “Allies and Assets” – show your group of friends, family, teachers and therapists can help you find and grow your unique talents, like a community, tribe, team striving to help one of its members.

3. A drawing of the “Victory of your Voice” – share an illustration of how your style of learning has helped you develop a unique voice in the world, like your song or symphony of expression.

4. A drawing of your “Purposeful Process” – draw an example of one or more of your unique strategies for learning in your own way. Everyone has their own Process for learning; finding your process reveals your purpose. What’s yours?

5. A drawing of your “Original Organization” – an illustration of how you transformed, through hard work, one of your ideas in reality. We are each originals. How has your hard work helped you make cities out of the clouds of your imagination?

Please use a 8.5×11 sheet, and send in JPG format to with the subject heading DRAWING TO DECODE DYSLEXIA.

I’ll send out notifications of the selected drawings on AUG05.

Thank you so much for ALL of your drawings. This isn’t a contest for who’s is best, but only for which one could fit the presentation most accurately. They’re all precious to me, so thank you for every one of your drawings!

We are Legion,

Scott Sonnon


Share your story, help elevate the Dyslexia Conversation



Recently, CNN iReport asked for families stories about what it is like to raise a child with special needs.  DDVA thought this might be a nice opportunity to highlight the current stories that have been shared regarding dyslexia.  Each story you will find has threads of similarities and yet each journey is unique to that family.  We encourage you to take a few minutes to post your story to CNN and help elevate the national discussion on dyslexia.

Follow this link to find out how to post your story:

We will keep an eye out or feel free to let us know when you post and we will add your story here!!!

Dyslexia stories that have already been posted to CNN’s iReport.










Graduate Shout Out Details



Proud of your graduate?  So are we!!!


Want to give a shout out to your graduate??

Each night in June, that we have participants, DDVA will Shout Out your message of congrats!!

Here are the details!

What & When: Posts will go up on our Decoding Dyslexia VA FaceBook page each night at 7 p.m.

Who:  Our community of graduates.  High school, college, tech, middle school, elementary school, tutoring program, etc., if they are graduating we want to help celebrate!!

What we need:

Photo of your gradate. (By sending us your photo you are giving DDVA permission to use that photo for this campaign, we will not use the photo for any other purposes.)

First name, Last Name (optional)

Name of School and town in VA.  (Not in VA??? Ck with your state Decoding Dyslexia chapter here to see if they are hosting this campaign, if not we will gladly include your Shout Out!)

Your personal message of congrats!  Sample message:  “We are so proud of you! Love Mom and Dad”

Please send your info to:


Sample template:


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