Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Senator John E. Brooks Hosted 4th Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day in Albany

Students, advocates, and educators highlighted the need for dyslexia legislation
March 14, 2019

Albany, NY – On March 14th, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn) and Senator John E. Brooks (D-Long Island) hosted the 4th Annual Dyslexia Awareness Day. Students with dyslexia, parents, educators, and advocates from across the state brought attention to this issue and the need for schools to better serve kids with dyslexia. The event featured a panel of people with dyslexia, including Helen Foster, Commissioner of the NYS Division of Human Rights, Assemblymember Robert C. Carroll, John P. McEneny, Theatre Arts Teacher at MS 51, advocate Paul Goicochea and more. Attendees highlighted the need for legislation, including early screening for dyslexia in schools (A5259-A/S4341) and the need for teacher training in this area (A6450/S4342).

One in five children have dyslexia, which is not a visual problem, but rather a brain-based learning disability that makes word recognition, spelling and reading success a difficult task. A5259-A would create a program that will provide early screening and intervention services for children with risk factors for dyslexia, at an age when children can make the most progress and before they fall behind their peers. A6450 requires the incorporation of the structured multisensory approach into the literacy courses that are already required for prospective teachers. It ensures that undergraduate and graduate students are trained in evidence-based, effective methods of teaching reading, including structured, multisensory approaches, also known as structured literacy.

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, “Dyslexia is the most prevalent learning disability in children, and yet, most parents, teachers, and administrators have trouble recognizing its symptoms. We have a long way to go to ensure that our school system provides appropriate services for kids with dyslexia and learning disabilities. We need legislation to ensure children are screened as early as possible for dyslexia, and that general education teachers are trained to teach students with common learning disabilities. I am proud to sponsor legislation that will address the needs of students with learning disabilities.”

Senator John Brooks said, "As someone who struggled throughout school due to undiagnosed dyslexia, I understand the challenges one faces when they have a learning disorder. Awareness is key to letting every boy and girl who has dyslexia know that they aren't less capable or less intelligent than their peers, and they should never be discouraged. There are countless individuals who have gone on to have great success in their careers – governors, CEOs, artists, state senators, movie directors and more – because dyslexia doesn't limit your potential or prevent you from changing the world."

“As someone who struggled with dyslexia as a child, I know that proper diagnosis and early intervention are essential to a child becoming academically successful.   20% of students have dyslexia or another language based learning difference and currently so many of our kids go undiagnosed and never learn to read.  It is time for New York State to screen every Kindergartener and First Grader for dyslexia and to employ evidence based multi-sensory sequential phonics based approaches to teaching reading so that all of our children can learn to read and flourish academically.  I commend Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon for her consistent leadership on this issue and am proud to join her for Dyslexia Awareness Day,” said Assemblymember Robert Carroll.

Lavinia Mancuso of Everyone Reading said, “What simple and powerful pieces of legislation! Training all teachers in basic reading methodology, teaching all K-2 students foundational reading skills explicitly and systematically, identifying students as soon as they begin to struggle; giving them timely and appropriate intervention. Teachers will love it; parents will love it, and, best of all, students will learn to read easily and well.”

Photos and videos of the event are available upon request.