Decoding Dyslexia VA

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February 4th Everyone can Participate – Join Us!

February 4th Everyone can Participate - Join Us!

Can’t make it to Richmond, VA on February 4th?

Join us anyway!!!

Two easy steps and you can be heard on the 4th too!

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,
Members of Decoding Dyslexia Virginia have traveled to Richmond today to increase awareness for dyslexia. I support their mission and would like you to review the informational packets they drop off in your office today, 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 the members of Decoding Dyslexia VA, who have traveled to Richmond today to raise dyslexia awareness. I would like make sure your office is aware that this is an important issue to our family. Decoding Dyslexia VA will be delivering packets of information to your office today. That packet will outline dyslexia and it’s impact, DDVA goals, and a multitude of personal accounts from VA families who are dealing with similar issues as our own family, I would like to encourage your office to review that packet. Thank you for you time and service!”

For additional talking points:

Decoding Dyslexia VA hosts First Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day at the Capital!



Hello VA,

Below you will find our agenda for the events of February 4th!  We will continue to update you as we receive additional information.  We look forward to gathering together to raise dyslexia awareness and let policy makers hear our concerns.

Where:  Richmond, VA

7th Floor West Conference Room General Assembly Building.

When:  9:30-11:00am Reception

  • Light refreshments to be served
  • Short presentation:  Decoding Dyslexia VA: Parents United
  • Speaker: Ben Pasternak, DDVA Parent

Parents, educators, specialists and policy makers please join us as Decoding Dyslexia VA hosts our First Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day at the Capital!

Learn more about:

  • Decoding Dyslexia VA – Our history and plans for the future
  • What is Dyslexia? – Who does it impact and what can be done
  • How positive change will benefit our children, our schools and our state.

Following the reception, opportunities for Gallery seats to observe the State Session, as well as Capital tours may be available.  This opportunity is dependent on RSVP’s and is subject to change with no advanced notice.

We encourage families and individuals who join us on the 4th to reach out to your representatives.  Invite them to the reception or schedule to meet with a member of their staff some time during the day.  DDVA members will be available to join the conversations or offer talking points if needed.

Update: Please our Event Brite Link for additional information and the opportunity to RSVP.



Would you like to spread DDVA’s message, but you are unsure where to start?

It doesn’t have to be difficult, just remember you live with it every day!  In fact your story of dyslexia is the most important part!

We will give you a packet for the legislator and make every attempt to pair you with another person who shares your state Delegate or Senator.

We hope to pair you with someone who knows the DDVA dialog well.  But, based on the number of people who attend February 4, we realize that may not be possible.

Below you will find our consistent message. We realize it is a lot of information and does not have to be delivered word for word.  We have a demonstration video too, if you think that would help. In general, this meeting would take about 25 minutes with pleasant conversation included.

DDVA Introduction:

  • Decoding Dyslexia Virginia is a grassroots movement founded in 2013
  • The first Decoding Dyslexia State was New Jersey, since they formed in 2011 more than (check website for current number – 44 as of 1/2014) states have joined the movement
  • Take from the number of states involved, that this issue id not only here in Virginia, it’s national
  • DDVA Mission:
    • We want to families to resources, support, and educational interventions
    • We aim to:
      • Raise dyslexia awareness
      • Empower families to support their children
      • Inform policy-makers on best practices to identify, remediate and support students with dyslexia in Virginia.
      • DDVA  Members:
        • Comprised of parents whose children are dyslexic
        • We are not experts
        • We offer the community the benefit of our collective experiences
        • 800 strong representing all areas of the state

Dyslexia Definition/The Facts:

  • Ask the person with whom you are talking what they know about dyslexia, or if they know someone who is dyslexic.

The Facts:

  • People often think Dyslexia is reading or seeing words and letters backwards. But that is not what dyslexia is
  • Dyslexia affects 1 in 5, or 20% of the population
  • Dyslexia is defined on page 11 of the regulations governing special education programs for children with disabilities in Virginia,
  • Virginia has a universal definition of dyslexia in the state education code:
  • You do not need to recite the definition, but here it is for reference:

Dyslexia is distinguished from other learning disabilities due to Its weakness occurring at the phonological level. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge”.

  • People who have dyslexia have average or above average intelligence
  • Language Centers of the brain have been defined with the help of Functional Brain Imaging/fMRI’s and are on the left side of the brain
  • Dyslexics tend to be picture thinkers, and use the right side of the brain more.
  • But, put the left brain/right brain issue aside, and think instead about the non dyslexic brain having fast express lanes between the language centers
  • Compare that to the dyslexic brain which has more circuitous routes/clogged highways/country roads
  • Many people are never diagnosed, but as many as 80% of children in LD classes may really be dyslexic
  • Currently most schools teach typical learners to read using what is called a “Whole Language “ approach, this method doesn’t work for a dyslexic learner
  • Dyslexic learners need to be taught the rules of the English language, and specific phoneme rules
  • The remediation is specific
  • Remediation should be structured, sequential, cumulative, and simultaneously multisensory
  • When identified and remediated with proper instruction, dyslexic children can thrive, and transition out of Special education
  • When diagnosis is delayed, children struggle and often have to have many more years of special education once they can no longer compensate
  • Up to 70% of those in the criminal justice system have a learning disability

Tell your story:


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

The “ASK” what we would like legislator to do for us:

  • Please be aware of dyslexia specific legislation and remember my story when you do


For Immediate Release


Rebecca Worth Warner

Decoding Dyslexia VA Co- Founder

Richmond, VA


Decoding Dyslexia VA to Raise Awareness and Concerns

At the Capital on Feb. 4, 2014


Richmond, VA – Jan. 14, 2014 – Decoding Dyslexia VA, with the support of Delegate Kaye Kory, 38th district, will be hosting a Dyslexia Awareness Day at the state capital on Feb. 4, 2014.

In addition to the House, Senator Jill Vogel, District 37, has offered continued support and guidance for the parent run group.

The event is open to the public and is expected to draw a large contingency of passionate parents and specialists. DDVA encourages families, educators and policy makers to attend to learn more about dyslexia, the impact on our children and on Virginia’s schools. More importantly learn about solutions that 30 years of research has provided to address this valued community that has long been misunderstood.

The Dyslexic community is estimated at 1 in 5, easily 20% of Virginia’s population.  The consequences of ignoring the needs of this community will have an escalating impact on the state’s literacy rate, drop-rate and workforce.  Sadly each one of these directly correlates to our incarceration rates.

Reading Difficulties, Including Dyslexia, Are Very Common*      

Reading difficulties are the most common cause of academic failure and underachievement. Learning to read and write is not natural or easy for many—if not most—students, especially those with dyslexia and related language problems. The National Assessment of Educational Progress consistently finds that about 36% of all fourth graders read at a level described as “below basic.”


Between 15 and 20% of young students are doomed to academic failure because of reading and language processing weaknesses, unless those weaknesses are recognized early and treated skillfully. Another 20–30% is at risk for inadequate reading and writing development, depending on how—and how well—they are taught. Most of these at‐risk students are ineligible for special education services and are dependent on the instruction given in the regular classroom or other supplementary services.


However, of those students who are referred to special education services in public schools, approximately 85% are having severe difficulties with language, reading, and writing. Clearly, responsibility for teaching reading and writing must be shared by classroom teachers, reading specialists, and special education personnel.


There is known research-based instruction that can successfully lessen the impact of dyslexia and help students to overcome its more debilitating symptoms. Analyses of teacher licensing tests show that typically, very few are aligned with current research on effective instruction for students at risk.

Decoding Dyslexia is a parent-based grassroots movement which started two years ago in New Jersey, and has spread rapidly to include 44 of the 50 U.S. states.  Virginia’s chapter was founded a little over a year ago. The group’s primary objectives are to see the state implement:

  • Increase awareness among educators and families with regard to warning signs
  • 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


About Dyslexia**

Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 5 people, but the experience of dyslexia isn’t always the same. This difficulty in processing language exists along a spectrum — one that doesn’t necessarily fit with labels like “normal” and “defective.” Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed. D., urges us to think again about dyslexic brain function and to celebrate the neurodiversity of the human brain.



See Kelli Sandman-Hurley’s TED-Ed Original featuring her words and ideas brought to life by professional animators:


*The International Dyslexia Association, Promoting Literacy Through Research Education and Advocacy ( )

**Ted Ed Lessons Worth Sharing:

Faces of Dyslexia in Virginia

Decoding Dyslexia VA (DDVA) is currently working on a project  entitled “Faces of Dyslexia in Virginia”.   The project was originally envisioned to help personalize our stories when we meet with lawmakers, but it could be used for any type of dyslexia awareness a family might be engaged in.  It is intended to be a quick read that shows the strengths of our kids as well as their struggles. In the picture below, you will find an example story of one of our members. Although her picture will be shown in the book, for the purpose of this  post a self-portrait has been chosen.
If you would like to participate,  please use the link below, to insert a picture of your child and a paragraph telling their story. Parents have offered the opportunity to their kids to write/dictate anything they wish or guided them with questions to encourage expression. Please note: your submission must be able to fit in this one page  format.

Your Child’s Page

UPDATES:  Having trouble opening the link to  “Your Child’s Page”? No worries! The link simply provides a template as a guide.  It models that a portion of your page will highlight your picture while the  other portion is for your paragraph. This template gives you the star border you  see posted on our FB/Blog example. You may submit your page with your own choice  of border or simply not use a border at all. The most important thing is that  your page comes to us in a ONE PAGE format. Remember, there is no age limit to  this project…we would love all submissions!
Submissions and questions regarding this project can be sent to

Thank you!
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