On April 10, 2019, Lark Barker, Decoding Dyslexia Ontario President elect, presented the Decoding Dyslexia Ontario statement addressing accessibility in education to the Accessibility Town Hall held in Toronto, Ontario. The meeting was organized by MPP Joel Harden.
On December 12, 2018, Decoding Dyslexia Ontario contributed the following response to the provincial government’s Education Curriculum Consultation.
Decoding Dyslexia Ontario is a parent-led, non-profit organization that raises dyslexia awareness, empowers families to support their children who are dyslexic, and shares best practices regarding identification, remediation and support for students with dyslexia. We are parents, teachers, tutors and students who are concerned about the students with dyslexia in our public schools. The Decoding Dyslexia parent advocacy movement began in the U.S. and has managed, in under a decade, to influence education policy across that country. They have done so by providing policy makers with illustrations of the failure of schools to address the needs of students with dyslexia and by offering evidence-based solutions to this tragedy. To date, 47 of 50 states have dyslexia legislation and related policy.
The Ontario Curriculum Consultation process does not seek to specifically address Ontario’s reading curriculum and Ontario’s reading instruction policies and guidelines. Yet this Submission begins with reading and then will also address math, EQAO (and other large-scale standardized assessments), and mental health. This is because reading is the one key skill that every child must develop to find success in school and in life. Math and any other subject taught in schools cannot be entered into by a student without first knowing how to read. Reading therefore must be addressed by the Ontario Curriculum Consultation.
Decoding Dyslexia wants to improve overall reading scores (and math scores) by addressing the needs of the estimated 6% to 17% of children with dyslexia in our province (J. Fletcher et al, 2007, p. 105). By providing a reading curriculum that follows universal design, is based on the science of reading and is accessible to ALL children, we can reduce the number of children with learning disabilities who will need special education services, leading to cost savings for our schools and better outcomes for students. Where students with physical impairments requires a wheelchair ramp to access a school environment, a student with dyslexia requires an explicit, systematic and scientifically based approach to reading instruction to access education in our province, a right for all children under The Ontario Human Rights Code.
This week, Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), acknowledged that children with dyslexia must be accommodated in Ontario schools — whether schools use the term “dyslexia” or not. She further advised parents of children with dyslexia or specific learning disorder (SLD) (which may be dyslexia even if your public school doesn’t use this term) to report discrimination in obtaining appropriate special education services including identification, assessment and intervention.
Here’s the tweet that’s got everybody talking!
If you believe you or your child have been discriminated against when accessing educational services, contact @HRlegalhelp for free and confidential advice.
As parents and advocates, we know this story, and the pain it causes, all too well. Children in Ontario are not being assessed, identified, accommodated or receiving effective instruction (structured literacy) for dyslexia.
Should you choose to report your story to the OHRC, we’ve prepared the following one page fact sheet to help you understand how to identify and report discrimination. Please feel free to share!
“A couple days after my little man was formally diagnosed with dyslexia, I found him at the kitchen table creating this poster. ‘Dyslexia. It’s not a disadilatee. It’s a Super Power. For the pepole who are Dyslexik, Don’t give UP!’
My heart sang. You see just days earlier my husband and I were so worried about giving him the label of ‘dyslexia’. But after sitting him down and talking to Quin about all the amazingly different ways his brain works, we said the words… ‘and it’s called dyslexia.’ His face lit up!
We were so worried about labelling him with the word ‘DYSLEXIA’, that it never occurred to us that he had already self labelled himself as ‘STUPID’. And by saying the word ‘dyslexia’ we erased the word ‘stupid’. ”