Answers for Educators
Teachers cannot diagnose dyslexia. But they are in position to notice when a student exhibits signs and symptoms. If you are teacher and you suspect a student has dyslexia, consider taking the following steps:
- Talk to the student's parent/s about your observations. Yes, you can use the "d" word - read the next question for more on that!
- Give dyslexia information and resources to the parent/s, such as signs and symptoms, myths and facts, and options for getting a diagnostic evaluation. Contact us if you would like our list of dyslexia evaluators.
- Support the diagnostic process, if the parent/s pursue an evaluation. Answer any questions the evaluator has and read the report if it is shared with you. Pay careful attention to the recommendations for instruction, accommodations and assistive technology.
- Reassure the parent/s that you will work to help their child regardless of whether or not their child is formally diagnosed with dyslexia.
- If appropriate, start the process for a special education evaluation or 504 plan for the student. Remember - eligibility for an IEP or 504 plan is determined by a team, after a variety of information is considered. Thinking that a student won't qualify should never stop you from starting these processes. For special education, the Child Find mandate of the IDEA requires schools to evaluate any student suspected if having a disability.
Yes, you can. There is nothing in state or federal law prohibiting the use of the word "dyslexia" by educators. In 2015, the U.S. Department Education issued guidance encouraging schools to use the word dyslexia (and dysgraphia and dyscalculia) in the special education process when they are relevant to a student's difficulties. The guidance stated that "there is nothing in the IDEA that would prohibit the use of the terms dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in IDEA evaluation, eligibility determinations, or IEP documents."
Maybe, but it is important to understand that colored overlays are not an intervention for dyslexia. They are an accommodation for visual processing problems. Some students with dyslexia have visual processing problems, while others do not. Students without dyslexia may also have visual processing problems. Colored overlays may reduce eye strain and fatigue when visual processing problems are present. They should not be universally offered to all students with dyslexia, and they are not a substitute for systematic, multi-sensory reading and spelling instruction.
Dyslexia awareness training is appropriate for all teachers. It typically covers the definition of dyslexia, signs and symptoms, brain differences, remediation strategies, accommodations, and assistive technology. This type of training can be provided in a shorter amount of time, such as a 1-2 day workshop. Dyslexia simulations are often a part of awareness training and can be very impactful for participants. Structured Literacy training is appropriate for educators who are responsible for teaching children to read. This includes general education teachers, special education teachers, and reading interventionists. Learning to teach with a Structured Literacy approach takes time - more than a 1-2 day workshop. Classes occur over a period of weeks or months, and a practicum with at least one student is involved. Educators will gain advanced knowledge of the structure of the English language and of multi-sensory teaching techniques. The good news is that this type of instruction benefits all kids. For Structured Literacy interventions to be effective, they must be implemented with fidelity. This means educators must complete the required training AND follow the developer's instructions when implementing the intervention. The Iowa Reading Research Center has written about the importance of fidelity.
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE)
- ODE has an approved list of training opportunities for educators required to receive training following Oregon's recent dyslexia legislation (2015, 2017).
- IDA has created several documents to define what all teachers of reading need to know and be able to do to teach all students to read proficiently. The IDA Standards were written for two main audiences: classroom educators and dyslexia specialists. Click here for more information about the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.
- IDA’s credentialing activities include the review and accreditation of university and independent teacher training programs and certification of individuals. For a list of university programs that have been accredited by IDA click here.
- IDA issues certifications recognizing professionals with the knowledge and skills to teach individuals with dyslexia to read. The purpose of these credentials is to appropriately assess a professional’s ability to provide the necessary remediation for individuals with dyslexia and offer information to the public to choose qualified professionals. For more information – click here.
- IDA and IDA - Oregon Branch holds a annual conference each fall.
- offers year round trainings and an annual conference.
There are many things educators can do to help students with dyslexia that do not take lots of time or money to implement. Read DD-IOWA's tips for creating a dyslexia-friendly classroom.