Beyond Dyslexia Legislation: Implementing the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards in the Teacher Education Programs at Ohio's Colleges and Universities

By Andrist, Charlotte G.; Yoshimoto, Ronald | Perspectives on Language and Literacy, December 2015 | Go to article overview

Beyond Dyslexia Legislation: Implementing the IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards in the Teacher Education Programs at Ohio's Colleges and Universities


Andrist, Charlotte G., Yoshimoto, Ronald, Perspectives on Language and Literacy


From 2002 to 2007, a number of legislative efforts for dyslexia were initiated across Ohio by one or another of Ohio's three branches of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). These proposed dyslexia legislative initiatives were modeled after the seminal dyslexia legislation that had been passed in the State of Texas during the mid-1980s. None of these dyslexia bills, however, made it out of either the Ohio House of Representatives Education or the Ohio Senate Education Committees, respectively, and onto the floor of either branch of the Ohio General Assembly. Dyslexia activists in Ohio became frustrated and discouraged. They realized that they needed to be more organized and did not have the first idea of how to begin to get dyslexia legislation passed. They met with different lobbyists and got plenty of suggestions, but following up on most of this advice would require not only significant funding but also the need to work with someone who had legal expertise. By 2007, most dyslexia activists in Ohio had given up on ever passing dyslexia legislation in the state. Then, at a luncheon meeting at the IDA Conference in Dallas, a group of board members from the three IDA Ohio branches attended an inspiring speech by Tincy Miller, the force behind the seminal Texas dyslexia legislation. After the luncheon presentation, this core IDA Ohio group, inspired and encouraged by Ms. Miller's words, met and decided to band together to take up the challenge to pass dyslexia legislation in Ohio.

And so began countless hours of discussion and planning at many meetings in Columbus. As a result of those meetings, a strong dyslexia legislative network was formed across Ohio. Information was posted on IDA branch websites and in the Ohio IDA newsletter that contained information on how to contact legislators and included legislative district maps and sample letters. Social media helped to spread the word: followup Tweets and Facebook messages linking to the legislative information were sent to hundreds of dyslexia activists across Ohio. Dyslexia rallies were organized on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus complete with dyslexia simulations, music from a dyslexia vocalist, testimonial booths to record stories, button-making tables, dyslexia t-shirts for sale, postcards ready to fill in and send to legislators, and dyslexia petitions to sign in support of dyslexia legislation. Speakers included sponsors of the dyslexia legislation from both political parties, Central Ohio business leaders who supported the legislation, passionate individuals with dyslexia and their families, and members of the Ohio IDA Dyslexia Legislative Group. Crowds of passionate parents, school children, and many other members of the Ohio dyslexia community attended. As a direct result of our advocacy efforts, hundreds of people crammed the hearing rooms in support of those testifying before the Ohio House and Senate Education Committees. Accordingly, two dyslexia bills were passed out of their respective legislative committees with unanimous assent and onto the floor of both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate: HB 96 created a pilot project for the early identification and effective instruction of students at-risk for dyslexia (http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3323.25), while HB 157 identified guidelines for teacher in-service in dyslexia and defined the characteristics of a qualified instructor (http://codes.ohio.gov/ orc/3319.80). Both pieces of legislation incorporated the IDA definition of dyslexia. Both bills were passed by the legislature. Then, in December 2011, members of Ohio IDA witnessed both bills being signed into law by Governor John Kasich. It was an emotional experience for everyone who had worked so hard to get the legislation passed.

Beyond Dyslexia Legislation

From its very inception, members of the Ohio IDA Executive Committee had many discussions about how to change teacher education in Ohio so that it included evidence-based, explicit, systematic, multisensory reading instruction that would address the needs of all struggling readers, including those with dyslexia. …

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