October 4 — October 10 is Dyslexia Awareness Week (DAW). I had the distinct honor of speaking at HOI Foundation’s Dyslexie Week 2021 in the Amsterdam. As many of you know, I am also a dyslexic inventor, designer, storyteller, biohacker, mother and cognitive equality activist. This talk raises awareness and shares my understanding of dyslexia in order to bring about positive change during the great reset.

From pre-industrialized kinesthetic learning practices (e.g. Apprenticeships) to the NeuroBiology of Dyslexia to our current opportunities to use immersive technologies (e.g. Voice Interfaces, Virtual and or Extended Reality) to reimagine education, I share my biohacker’s mission to hack text interfaces in pursuit of a kinesthetic, action based, learning experiences. This is why I've spent my career pioneering Ai powered visual, gesture, voice and brain interfaces (e.g. Alexa Devices) that enable access to the worlds knowledge for 100% of humanity.

The flip side of the 4th industrial revolution is an opportunity to jump start the 21st century inclusive global enlightenment that prioritizes crafting the world’s knowledge into an immersive action learning experiences for everyone, everywhere every day.

A Guide To Talking About Dyslexia

When we speak with a clear and consistent voice about the difficulties facing those with dyslexia, our message is far more likely to be heard and understood by education leaders, policymakers and others in a position to bring about change. Whether you are a parent advocating for your child, a teacher seeking more support for dyslexic students, an advocate working to change policy (or all three!), the talking points below will help you dispel misconceptions about dyslexia and ensure all dyslexic children and adults have the support they need to succeed.

How to describe dyslexia:

  • Dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading in relation to an individual’s higher level of intelligence. While those with dyslexia are slow readers, they also, paradoxically, are often very fast and creative thinkers.
  • Dyslexia is a difficulty appreciating the individual sounds in spoken language. It affects a person’s ability to rapidly retrieve the word he or she wants to say, to isolate the sounds within a spoken word and then to attach the appropriate letter to the sound. Those with dyslexia struggle to read fluently, spell words correctly and to learn a second language. Dyslexia is not reversing letters.
  • Some of the most successful people in their fields have dyslexia, including well-known writers and artists, brilliant scientists, doctors and attorneys, and government and business leaders.
  • Dyslexia is life-long, affecting 20 percent of the population and representing 80-90 percent of all those with learning disabilities.

Identifying dyslexia:

Screening for and diagnosing dyslexia is practically non-existent in public schools, particularly in low-income communities. If children with dyslexia are not identified, they will never receive evidence-based interventions and accommodations that will change their lives for the better.

  • Teacher education programs provide little if any training on identifying and supporting dyslexic students.
  • Many school districts resist naming dyslexia as a specific disability, making it harder to identify and help dyslexic kids.
  • The Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen identifies students at risk of dyslexia and is now available for use in classrooms nationwide through http://www.pearsonclinical.com

Dyslexia and the reading achievement gap:

  • Dyslexia likely is a significant reason for the persistent reading achievement gap in children from all backgrounds, especially low-income African-American and Hispanic children.
  • Children with dyslexia who aren’t diagnosed often grow up thinking they are stupid and that school is not a place for them. As a consequence, they have higher rates of dropout, unemployment, anxiety and depression. Studies estimate that almost 50 percent of prison inmates have dyslexia.

Helping those with dyslexia:

  • Early identification of dyslexia should be followed by evidence-based interventions and accommodations. Evidence-based interventions are reading programs that have demonstrated their effectiveness through double-blind, controlled randomized studies. Research-based is not the same as evidence-based!
  • Accommodations allow children (or adults) with dyslexia to demonstrate their true ability. They include offering extra time on tests, permitting use of calculators, providing note-takers and making speech-to-text or text-to-speech technology readily available.
  • Interventions should focus on the whole child so that those with dyslexia not only learn to read, but develop self-awareness about who they are and what it means to be dyslexic.
  • Supportive dyslexia-embracing school environments should help students understand that their dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence and should empower them to realize their potential.

Raising awareness about how to effectively address dyslexia:

  • Use the word dyslexia and avoid lumping together dyslexia with other learning disabilities. It is a unique condition that needs to be addressed with specific evidence-based interventions.
  • Help dispel myths about dyslexia so educators and others appreciate that smart people can be poor readers.
  • Check out the YCDC Parent and Teacher Toolkits at http://www.dyslexia.yale.edu to find out how you can raise awareness through school events, contests and other activities.

Promoting a hopeful vision for those with dyslexia:

  • All those with dyslexia should have the opportunity to become better readers, to know and understand their diagnosis, and to become confident and successful students and adults.
  • Every child should be screened for dyslexia and those at risk should be tested. If identified with dyslexia they should be given the instruction they need to become proficient readers.
  • No child should give up on school because dyslexia was not identified and treated.
  • We should recognize and embrace those with dyslexia as often among the most intelligent and creative members of society.

Resources:

From pre-industrialized kinesthetic learning practices to the NeuroBiology of Dyslexia, I share how I hack text interfaces in pursuit of scaleable action learning experiences. via @jpenabickley