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On December 21, the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed a bill that includes dyslexia screening and interventions for all federal and state incarcerated inmates.
”Dyslexia is a leading cause of illiteracy, so to address illiteracy and incarceration, we must better address dyslexia.” Senator Bill Cassidy.
A study found that 80 percent of prison inmates at the state prison in Huntsville, Texas, were functionally illiterate and 48 percent were dyslexic.
Section language from Title I, Subchapter D that include dyslexia are listed below:
TITLE I—RECIDIVISM REDUCTION
SEC. 101. RISK AND NEEDS ASSESSMENT SYSTEM.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Chapter 229 of title 18, United States Code,
is amended by inserting after subchapter C the following:
‘‘SUBCHAPTER D—RISK AND NEEDS ASSESSMENT SYSTEM
‘‘3631. Duties of the Attorney General.
‘‘3632. Development of risk and needs assessment system.
‘‘3633. Evidence-based recidivism reduction program and recommendations.
Title I: Section 3631: Duties of Attorney General
‘‘(B) to address the specific criminogenic needs of the
‘‘(C) all prisoners are able to successfully participate
in such programs;
‘‘(6) determine when to provide incentives and rewards
for successful participation in evidence-based recidivism reduction
programs or productive activities in accordance with subsection
‘‘(7) determine when a prisoner is ready to transfer into
prerelease custody or supervised release in accordance with
section 3624; and
‘‘(8) determine the appropriate use of audio technology
for program course materials with an understanding of dyslexia.
In carrying out this subsection, the Attorney General may use
existing risk and needs assessment tools, as appropriate.
Title I: Section 3632: Development of Risk and Needs Assessment System
‘‘(h) DYSLEXIA SCREENING .—
‘‘(1) SCREENING .—The Attorney General shall incorporate
a dyslexia screening program into the System, including by
screening for dyslexia during—
‘‘(A) the intake process; and
‘‘(B) each periodic risk reassessment of a prisoner.
(2) TREATMENT .—The Attorney General shall incorporate
programs designed to treat dyslexia into the evidence-based
recidivism reduction programs or productive activities required
to be implemented under this section. The Attorney General
may also incorporate programs designed to treat other learning
Title I: Section 3633: Evidence Based Recidivism Reduction Program and Recommendations
‘‘(C) the addition of any new effective evidence-based
recidivism reduction programs that the Attorney General
‘‘(b) REVIEW AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING DYSLEXIA
MITIGATION .—In carrying out subsection (a), the Attorney General
shall consider the prevalence and mitigation of dyslexia in prisons,
‘‘(1) reviewing statistics on the prevalence of dyslexia, and
the effectiveness of any programs implemented to mitigate the
effects of dyslexia, in prisons operated by the Bureau of Prisons
and State-operated prisons throughout the United States; and
‘‘(2) incorporating the findings of the Attorney General
under paragraph (1) of this subsection into any directives given
to the Bureau of Prisons under paragraph (5) of subsection
Title I: Section 3634: Report
‘‘(iii) promote crime reduction programs using evidence-
based practices and strategic planning to help
reduce crime and criminal recidivism.
‘‘(8) Statistics on—
‘‘(A) the prevalence of dyslexia among prisoners in
prisons operated by the Bureau of Prisons; and
‘‘(B) any change in the effectiveness of dyslexia mitigation
programs among such prisoners that may be attributed
to the incorporation of dyslexia screening into the System
and of dyslexia treatment into the evidence-based recidivism
reduction programs, as required under this chapter.
Title I: ‘‘§ 3635. Definitions
‘‘In this subchapter the following definitions apply:
(1) DYSLEXIA .—The term ‘dyslexia’ means an unexpected
difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence
to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty
in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the
individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability
of an individual to speak, read, and spell.
‘‘(2) DYSLEXIA SCREENING PROGRAM .—The term ‘dyslexia
screening program’ means a screening program for dyslexia
‘‘(A) evidence-based (as defined in section 8101(21) of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20
U.S.C. 7801(21))) with proven psychometrics for validity;
‘‘(B) efficient and low-cost; and
‘‘(C) readily available.
Feb. 4, 2015 Update:
Thank you again for all the support from our community! What a fabulous day of dyslexia awareness!
Our Bills are still moving through the legislative process. If you joined us on Feb 3rd and visited with our VA Senators and Delegate please remember to send a quick thank you to the offices. Below are links to the Senate and House directories which include email addresses.
If you were unable to join us but would like to continue to help, please visit:
Date of Meeting: 2/3/2015
Time of Meeting: 9:30 AM
Location: 7th Floor West Conference Room
7th Floor West Conference Room General Assembly Building http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/includes/contentTemplate.php?tid=94&ctype=t&cid=94
When: 9:30-11:30am Reception
- Light refreshments to be served
- Short presentation: Decoding Dyslexia VA
- Meetings with State Representatives
Following the reception, opportunities for Gallery seats to observe the State Session, as well as Capitol 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 3rd 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. The goal of the day is to visit with as many State Representatives as possible.
Public Comment Sample:
My name is Jane Doe and I am from Anytown, VA. I currently have three children attending public schools in Any County Public School System. My second child is a middle school student and is currently being served by an IEP for SLD. My son is dyslexic, the dyslexia that is defined in our Virginia State Code. He is well above average in intelligence and yet struggles with his ability to read, write and spell. This deficit, in turn, negatively impacts his access to information he should be receiving in his curriculum. He currently reads at a 4th grade level, three plus years below his peers, and after recent evaluations done by the school this February, he is in the 2% for his spelling and 17% for his writing.
Every year we meet with each of my son’s teachers to start the year off “right”. Along with labeling a child for services, comes very real misconceptions of the child’s ability and disability. As parents, we have found it helpful to advocate for our son in a manner that we hope helps both the team and the student. And yet I feel compelled to bring to light that this disability, dyslexia, is the most wide spread and accounts for 80% of all SLD IEP’s in the state.
Year after year we do our best to educate the staff that will work with my son and year after year I am amazed at the lack of understanding or even base knowledge of the most common learning disability identified for services. I want to use the word, “injustice”. This is an injustice for the families relying on the schools for help, and this is an injustice to the teachers and staff who want to help educate our students.
As a public school mom and member of Decoding Dyslexia VA, I am asking for a plan for Virginia to implement:
- Teacher/staff training on dyslexia, its warning signs and appropriate intervention strategies
- Early screening tests for dyslexia
- 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.
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: http://kihd.gmu.edu/aim/about-us/
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 regulationsAIM updates (existing users)Site navigation/use/featuresPortal navigation/use/featuresUse 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-VAAIMVA 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.
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: http://www.doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/resolving_disputes/ombudsman/index.shtml
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: http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/1139396
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.