(From Press Release)
“DYSLEXIA IS REAL” BILL INTRODUCED IN TENNESSEE LEGISLATURE
January 22, 2014—Nashville, TN. Supporters of legislation that will help students with dyslexia in Tennessee have something to cheer about. 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.
Highlights of the bill referred to by supporters as “The Dyslexia is Real” bill include officially defining dyslexia in Tennessee using the definition officially adopted by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), education and training for pre-service teachers enrolled in institutions of higher learning, and incorporating dyslexia-related training into current educational in-service practices.
According to Emily Dempster, President of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and regional parent advocate, “This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Tennessee to make a difference in the lives of those affected by dyslexia.” Dempster teamed up with Dr. James Herman, Director of the Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia, and Dr. Chester Goad, former president of the Tennessee Association on Higher Education and Disability, over the last two years to help lay the groundwork for the bill. Goad believes this is only the beginning. “All we did was lay the ground work,” he continued, “but getting this bill passed is going to take a mighty partnership with our Dyslexia Alliance partners, parents and others around the state to take it across the finish line. We’re just so thankful to Representative Sexton and Senator Becky Duncan Massey for giving us an opportunity to prove that Tennesseans care about this issue.” Dr. Jim Herman of the Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia at MTSU emphasizes educational importance of the bill. “This bill will assist educators in meeting the needs of all K-12 students and opens the door for targeted, multisensory interventions for students with dyslexia.”
While dyslexia legislation is only now being introduced in Tennessee, the dyslexia movement is a national movement. Several states have already passed similar legislation including: New Jersey, Mississippi, Arkansas, Ohio, and many more. In most states, support for the bills receive incredible traction from highly organized groups such as the parent advocacy group Decoding Dyslexia, state branches of the International Dyslexia Association, as well as Learning Ally formerly known as “RFB&D or Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.” For more information about the “Dyslexia is Real Bill” contact Dempster, Goad, or Herman, TN-IDA, or Decoding Dyslexia.