Blogs About Reading

Aiming for Access

June Behrmann

June Behrmann is a longtime special education teacher (pre-K to grade 6) who retired for about two seconds, and is now prospecting for accessible instructional resources. Follow June on Twitter @aimnoncat. Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with us.

Are You Helping Students with Dyslexia Get A's: Achievement, Accessibility, Accommodations, AT?

December 15, 2014

Teaching students with dyslexia and other print disabilities requires informed school administrators, teachers, related services personnel, and parents working together. Their efforts to establish eligibility for accessible educational materials (AEM=AIM) can assure that students who need it can access grade-level content in order to meet or exceed state standards.

Asessments, instructional approaches, and materials vary for each child. These are influenced by choices made in each local school district. The goal for students is the same: to achieve at or as close as possible to grade level; and this may or may not require AEM, accommodations, and/or assistive technology (AT). These "A's" always need to be considered at locally-determined points during an individualized education planning program meeting. Here are quotes and links to views about dyslexia and other learning challenges that can inform your instruction and/or understanding about the changing state of practice.

Neuroscience

"A clear early diagnosis could lead to early intervention and spare students potentially years of frustration and setbacks."

Go to the blog of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society to read "Getting Past Dyslexia Myths: How Neuroscience Has Helped," a guest post by Priya Kaira, Harvard University.

Classroom Instruction

"…every classroom teacher has the opportunity to positively change the life of a student with dyslexia by taking the time to understand what it is and provide accommodations for accessing information that student is capable of learning through alternate formats."

Go to Edutopia to read "Dyslexia in the General Education Classroom," by educator and advocate Kelli Sandman-Hurley.

"When I teach dyslexic students I begin my lessons with an [Orton Gillingham] program and then I teach other skills and tools–at a level that is easy for them and not overwhelming. It doesn’t look anything like guided reading. It is very specific and very direct."

Reading specialist Ann Gavazzi wrote "Guided Reading as an Intervention for Dyslexia. NOT!" for the Eclectic Reading Teacher website a few years ago. Her views advance the view that some reading instruction overwhelms rather than benefits struggling readers with dyslexia.

Technology Use

"So in a lifetime of being a Dyslexic, in 20 years of researching Dyslexia, I have learned that there is no best font for this, no best reading method, no best technology choice, no best color combination, no best anything... not even for me across a week or even some days, and I've heard that variability matters for others too. So we need to learn to choose from a menu of what works, to set defaults in browsers but to have other choices, to have a range of technologies."

Ira Sokol on his SpeEdChange blog writes on the future of "all the different students in democratic societies." His Toolbelt Theory involves principles of Universal Design for Learning and guides personalized instruction for students attending Albemarle County (VA) Public Schools.

Social/Emotional Learning

"Building self-advocacy skills, resilience, and self-esteem help 'thinking differently' kids re-engage and be successful."

See the full article, "A Learning Problem Is Not An Intelligence Problem," by David Flink author and CEO of Eye to Eye, an LD mentoring organization. His views appeared as a Huffington Post education blog post. Check out his new book, Thinking Differently: An Inspiring Guide for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities, a book stressing the importance of building family and community understanding and student self-advocacy skills.

AIM-VA

In the Commonwealth, AIM-VA provides no-cost instructional materials in 12 different "accessible" formats to students with disabilities when their textbooks and other educational materials in print are barriers to learning.

Accessible learning materials allow students to access and to interact with the text as an aid to learning. The AIM-VA collection is large and varied. Teachers who work with AIM-VA and its partners Learning Ally | DBVI | Bookshare | Don Johnston create individualized grade-level learning opportunities using a unique online ordering system. AIM-VA delivers some materials to schools and others come electronically. To learn more start on the AIM-VA homepage.

Other states have comparable services. Ask a special education teacher or school administrators about the Accessible Educational Materials program (AEM), formerly known as AIM.

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Thank you to AIM-VA: Accessible Instructional Materials for sharing this blog with our Reading Rockets audience.

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"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox