Help people with Print Disabilities (including Dyslexia) gain access to Audio Books.
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January 6, 2018
Dear Mr. Rob Fleming,
On behalf of many students with print disabilities, and more specifically for students with dyslexia, I am writing to support CELA in their endeavour to secure Provincial funding to provide Audio Book Services in all of the libraries in the Province of BC.
It is difficult for dyslexic students to access materials to accommodate their disability, there is a lot of misunderstanding about dyslexia. It is very important that dyslexic students are identified early (as early as kindergarten) in order for them to have any chance for academic success and reaching their reading potential.
As one of the founding Members of Dyslexia BC, I am continually hearing from parents of dyslexic students about how frustrating it can be to get their children to read. It makes sense that our dyslexic kids don’t want to read – who likes to spend time doing something when it is really difficult to do? Most parents understand that reading is one of the most important ways that students acquire knowledge about the world and also enhances one’s vocabulary (word knowledge). World knowledge and vocabulary are critical to learning; particularly relative to learning the school curriculum.
I also continually hear from parents about how difficult it is to access services for their children with dyslexia. Teachers also contact me specifically about how difficult it is to access audio books for their students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Dyslexia is included within the twelve Ministry of Education’s designated categories for special education, falling within the category of Specific Learning Disability. BC Ministry of Education special education policies apply to the delivery of services and programs for students with Dyslexia. However, supplemental special education funding is not allocated to this group of students in BC.
Dyslexic students are at risk to acquire knowledge when they do not and can not read as much as their peers. Many dyslexic students can experience the Matthew effect (Stanovich, 1986). Because they are less exposed to print due to their weak reading skills, they therefore experience repeated failure which eventually leads to even more difficulties (in all aspects of their lives). Thus the gap between poor readers and their peers grows ever wider over time.
One way to ensure dyslexic students can access and enjoy the same texts as their peers when their reading levels do not allow them to do so is through technology –in other words, audio books. Audio books will increase independence, increase word comprehension and allow access to grade level material with ease for dyslexic students.
The BC Ministry’s stated purpose of the British Columbia school system is “To enable learners to develop their individual potential and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to contribute to a healthy society and a prosperous and sustainable economy.”
Ministry policy also states: “All students should have equitable access to learning, opportunities for achievement, and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of their educational program,” Having better access to text through audio books would help level the playing field for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Maya Angelou once said that, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” I would add that, “any book,” includes audio books as well.
Cathy McMillan, Founding Member Dyslexia BC
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