Listed below are possible accommodations for the §504, or Admission, Review, Dismissal (ARD) Committee of Knowledgeable Persons to consider for a student with dyslexia. This is not an exclusive list.

Textbooks and Curriculum

  • Provide audiotapes/CDs of textbooks and have student follow the text while listening
  • Provide summaries of chapters
  • Use marker or highlighting tape to highlight important textbook sections
  • Assign peer reading buddies
  • Use colored transparency or overlay
  • Review vocabulary prior to reading
  • Provide preview questions
  • Use videos/filmstrips related to the readings
  • Provide a one-page summary and/or a review of important facts
  • Do not require student to read aloud
  • Talk through the material one-to-one after reading assignments
  • Shorten assignments to focus on mastery of key concepts
  • Shorten spelling tests to focus on mastering the most functional words
  • Substitute alternatives for written assignments (posters, oral/taped or video presentations, projects, collages, etc.)
Classroom Environment
  • Provide a computer for written work
  • Seat student close to teacher in order to monitor understanding
  • Provide quiet during intense learning times

Instruction and Assignments

  • Give directions in small steps and with as few words as possible
  • Break complex direction into small steps—arrange in a vertical list format
  • Read written directions to student, then model/demonstrate
  • Accompany oral directions with visual clues
  • Use both oral and written directions
  • Ask student to repeat; check for understanding
  • Use worksheets that require minimal writing
  • Provide a “designated note taker;” photocopy another student’s or teacher’s notes
  • Provide a print outline with videotapes and filmstrips
  • Allow student to use a keyboard when appropriate
  • Allow student to respond orally
  • Grade only for content not spelling or handwriting
  • Have student focus on a single aspect of a writing assignment (elaboration, voice, etc.)
  • Allow student to dictate answer to essay questions
  • Reduce copying tasks
  • Reduce written work
  • Allow student to use a calculator without penalty
  • Use visuals and concrete examples
  • Use grid paper to help correctly line up math problems
  • Present information in small increments and at a slower pace
  • Take time to reteach if student is struggling to understand
  • Read story problems aloud
  • Break problems into smaller steps
  • Provide opportunity to test orally
  • Allow student to type responses
  • Read test to student
  • Evaluate oral performances more than written
  • Avoid penalizing for spelling errors, reversals, etc.
  • Go over directions orally
  • Permit as much time as needed to complete tests; avoid timed testing
  • Read test materials and allow oral responses
  • Separate content from mechanics/conventions grade
  • Provide typed test materials, not tests written in cursive
  • Allow student to respond on tape, with a typewriter, or by dictating answers to a tutor for assessment
  • Allow tests to be taken in a room with few distractions
  • Reduce reading assignments; keeping concepts that have been taught
  • Accept work dictated by student to a parent/tutor
  • Limit amount of time to spend on homework; have parents verify time spent on assignments

Talking about dyslexia…

"Never let dyslexia be an excuse for not achieving success. Chart your course and work to make your dreams a reality. Once you do that, there is nothing to ever hinder you."
— Carolyn McCarthy, Former member of U.S. House of Representatives

Dyslexia Characteristics

The following are the reading/spelling characteristics of dyslexia:

  • Difficulty reading words in isolation;
  • Difficulty accurately decoding unfamiliar words;
  • Difficulty with oral reading (slow, inaccurate, or labored);
  • Difficulty spelling.

The reading/spelling characteristics are most often associated with the following:

  • Segmenting, blending, and manipulating sounds in words (phonemic awareness);
  • Learning the names of letters and their associated sounds;
  • Holding information about sounds and words in memory (phonological memory);
  • Rapidly recalling the names of familiar objects, colors, or letters of the alphabet (rapid naming).

Consequences of dyslexia may include the following:

  • Variable difficulty with aspects of reading comprehension;
  • Variable difficulty with aspects of written language;
  • Limited vocabulary growth do to reduced reading experiences.

For more information:

Just a few celebrities & other important figures with dyslexia:

  • Erin Brokovich
  • Stephen J. Cannell
  • Cher
  • Tom Cruise
  • Thomas Edison
  • Danny Glover
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Nolan Ryan
  • Charles Schwab
  • Jackie Stewart
  • Henry Winkler
  • MANY more...
Dyslexia Definition

The International Dyslexia Association Definition of Dyslexia

Most current definition: Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

  • Adopted by the IDA Board, November 12, 2002.
  • This definition is also used by the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), 2002.

Let’s break it down:

Specific learning disability – research has indicated specific cognitive characteristics related to dyslexia.

that is neurological in origin – dyslexia results from differences in how the brain processes information. Specifically, functional brain imaging has demonstrated a failure of the left hemisphere posterior brain systems to function properly during reading.

More information:

Dyslexia is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities – students with dyslexia will demonstrate difficulties identifying real words (word recognition) and pronouncing nonsense words (decoding); the student’s ability to read fluently is also a major characteristic as well as difficulty with spelling. This is in contrast to the popularly held belief that the major characteristic is the reversal of letters, words and numbers.

These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language – making the connection between oral language and the letters/sounds that represent language in written form requires an awareness that all words can be decomposed into phonologic segments (i.e., the word bat can be broken down into three phonemes or individual sounds – b, a, and t). Research findings have been consistent in confirming that in young school-age children as well as in adolescents, a deficit in phonology is the strongest and most specific finding related to dyslexia.

That is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities – unexpected in relation to the student’s: oral language skills, the ability to learn in the absence of print, intellectual functioning, or strong math skills in comparison to reading skills.

…and the provision of effective classroom instruction – if the child has been identified as at-risk for reading failure in kindergarten and first grade, have they been provided with effective instruction in order to develop proficient early reading skills? The lack of response to scientifically informed instruction is one factor that differentiates severe reading deficits from reading failure resulting from inadequate instruction. Early intervention is critical…students who receive appropriate instruction show changes in how their brain processes the information so that it resembles that of non disabled readers. Research has found that effective early interventions have the capability of reducing the expected incidence of reading failure from 18% of the school age population to 1 – 5%.

Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge – because students with reading difficulties typically do not read the same amount as non disabled readers, it may impact their vocabulary development as well as their exposure to information learned by reading.

A few quick facts about dyslexia:

  • The word dyslexia comes from the Greek language and means poor language.
  • Dyslexia is a life-long status, however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life.
  • Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or a desire to learn; with appropriate teaching methods dyslexics can learn successfully.
  • Early identification and treatment is the key to helping dyslexics achieve in school and in life.
Dyslexia District Plans

General Guidelines

Develop awareness
  • Staff development
Select teachers and curriculum materials
  • Number of teachers needed (elementary, middle, high school)
  • Review of teacher certifications and training
  • Review of curriculum materials and teaching programs in district
Develop (or obtain) forms for:
  • Data gathering
  • Parent/teacher observations
  • Recommend for assessment
  • Others (e.g. 504, testing, accommodation, monitoring, etc.)
Set-up process (and establish responsibility) for:
  • Screening
  • Assessment
  • Evaluation
  • Identification (committee decision)
  • Intervention/instructional options
  • Progress monitoring
Determine exit criteria
Establish support system for exited students


Talking about dyslexia…

"Dyslexia is not due to lack of intelligence, it's a lack of access. It's like, if you're dyslexic, you have all the information you need, but find it harder to process."

— Orlando Bloom, English Actor
Instructional Components

Instruction for Students with Dyslexia

School districts may purchase a reading program or develop their own reading program for students with dyslexia and related disorders as long as the program is characterized by the descriptors found in The Dyslexia Handbook [19 TAC §74.28(c)].

Descriptors related to evidence-based instructional components:

  • Phonological awareness – "Phonological awareness is the understanding of the internal sound structure of words. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a given language that can be recognized as being distinct from other sounds. An important aspect of phonological awareness is the ability to segment spoken words into their component phonemes" (Birsh, 2011, p.19).
  • Sound-symbol association – Sound-symbol association is the knowledge of the varies speech sounds in any language to the corresponding letter or letter combinations that represent those speech sounds. The mastery of sound/symbol association (alphabetic principle) is the foundation for the ability to read (decode) and spell (encode) (Birsh, 2011, p.19). "Explicit phonics refers to an organized program in which these sound symbol correspondences are taught systematically" (Berninger & Wolf, 2009, p. 53).
  • Syllabication – "A syllable is a unit of oral or written language with one vowel sound. The six basic types of syllables in the English language include the following; closed, open, vowel-e consonant-e, r-controlled, vowel pair (or vowel team), and consonant-le (or final stable syllable). Rules for dividing syllables must be directly taught in relation to the word structure" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19).
  • Orthography – Orthography is the written spelling patterns and rules in a given language. Students must be taught the regularity and irregularity of the orthographic patterns of a language in an explicit and systematic manner. The instruction should be integrated with phonology and sound-symbol knowledge.
  • Morphology – "Morphology is the study of how a base word, prefix, root, suffix (morphemes) combine to form words. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a given Language" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19).
  • Syntax – "Syntax is the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This includes grammar and sentence variation and affects choices regarding mechanics of a given language" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19).
  • Reading comprehension – Reading comprehension is the process of extracting and constructing meaning through the interaction of the reader with the text to be comprehended and the specific purpose for reading. The reader's skill in reading comprehension depends upon the development of accurate and fluent word recognition, oral language development (especially vocabulary and listening comprehension), background knowledge, use of appropriate strategies to enhance comprehension and repair it if it breaks down, and the reader's interest in what he or she is reading and motivation to comprehend its meaning (Birsh, 2011, pp. 9 and 368; Snow, 2002).
  • Reading fluency – "Reading fluency is the ability to read text with sufficient speed and accuracy to support comprehension" (Moats & Dakin, 2008, p. 52). Teachers can help promote fluency with several interventions that have proven successful in helping students with fluency (e.g., repeated readings, word lists, and choral reading of passages) (Henry, 2010, p. 104).

Descriptors related to instructional approaches:

  • Simultaneous, multisensory (VAKT) – "Multisensory instruction utilizes all learning pathways in the brain (visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously in order to enhance memory and learning" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19). "Children are actively engaged in learning language concepts and other information, often by using their hands, arms, mouths, eyes, and whole bodies while learning" (Moats & Dakin, 2008, p. 58).
  • Systematic and cumulative – "Systematic and cumulative instruction requires the organization of material follow order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest concepts and progress methodically to more difficult concepts. Each step must also be based on elements previously learned. Concepts taught must be systematically reviewed to strengthen memory" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19).
  • Explicit instruction – "Explicit instruction is explained and demonstrated by the teacher one language and print concept at a time, rather than left to discovery through incidental encounters with information. Poor readers do not learn that print represents speech simply from exposure to books or print" (Moats & Dakin, 2008, p. 58). Explicit instruction is "an approach that involves direct instruction: The teacher demonstrates the task and provides guided practice with immediate corrective feedback before the student attempts the task independently" (Mather & Wendling, 2012, p. 326).
  • Diagnostic teaching to automaticity – "Diagnostic teaching is knowledge of prescriptive instruction that will meet individual student needs of language and print concepts. The teaching plan is based on continual assessment of the student's retention and application of skills" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19). "This teacher knowledge is essential for guiding the content and emphasis of instruction for the individual student" (Moats & Dakin, 2008, p. 58). "When a reading skill becomes automatic (direct access without conscious awareness), it is performed quickly in an efficient manner" (Berninger & Wolf, 2009, p. 70).
  • Synthetic instruction – "Synthetic instruction presents the parts of any alphabetic language (morphemes) to teach how the word parts work together to form a whole (e.g., base word, derivative)" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19).
  • Analytic instruction – "Analytic instruction presents the whole (e.g., base word, derivative) and teaches how the whole word can be broken into its component parts (e.g., base word, prefix, root, and suffix)" (Birsh, 2011, p. 19).

Talking about dyslexia…

"For me, dyslexia is not a disability. The unique strengths and characteristics of dyslexia allow me to think 'outside the box'. Until I was taught the Orton Gillingham approach, I did not have the basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills necessary for success."
— Peter W. D. Wright, Attorney for children with Special Needs

Texas Administrative Code §74.28 (State Board of Education Rule)

§74.28. Students with Dyslexia and Related Disorders.

  1. The board of trustees of a school district must ensure that procedures for identifying a student with dyslexia or a related disorder and for providing appropriate instructional services to the student are implemented in the district. These procedures will be monitored by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) with on-site visits conducted as appropriate.
  2. A school district's procedures must be implemented according to the State Board of Education (SBOE) approved strategies for screening, and techniques for treating, dyslexia and related disorders. The strategies and techniques are described in "Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders," a set of flexible guidelines for local districts that may be modified by SBOE only with broad-based dialogue that includes input from educators and professionals in the field of reading and dyslexia and related disorders from across the state. Screening should be done only by individuals/professionals who are trained to assess students for dyslexia and related disorders.
  3. A school district shall purchase a reading program or develop its own reading program for students with dyslexia and related disorders that is aligned with the descriptors found in "Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders." Teachers who screen and treat these students must be trained in instructional strategies that utilize individualized, intensive, multisensory, phonetic methods and a variety of writing and spelling components described in the “Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.” The professional development activities specified by each district and/or campus planning and decision making committee shall include these instructional strategies.
  4. Before an identification or assessment procedure is used selectively with an individual student, the school district must notify the student’s parent or guardian or another person standing in parental relation to the student.
  5. Parents/guardians of students eligible under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, §504, must be informed of all services and options available to the student under that federal statute.
  6. Each school must provide each identified student access at his or her campus to instructional programs required in subsection (c) of this section and to the services of a teacher trained in dyslexia and related disorders. The school district may, with the approval of each student’s parents or guardians, offer additional services at a centralized location. Such centralized services shall not preclude each student from receiving services at his or her campus.
  7. Because early intervention is critical, a process for early identification, intervention, and support for students at risk for dyslexia and related disorders must be available in each district as outlined in the “Dyslexia Handbook: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.”
  8. Each school district shall provide a parent education program for parents/guardians of students with dyslexia and related disorders. This program should include: awareness of characteristics of dyslexia and related disorders; information on testing and diagnosis of dyslexia; information on effective strategies for teaching dyslexic students; and awareness of information on modification, especially modifications allowed on standardized testing.

Talking about dyslexia…

Once the fog lifts, dyslexics are prone to genius. Because theirs is such a unique way of looking at reality.
— Victor Villasenor, Author

Texas Education Code §38.003 (State Law)

§38.003. Screening and Treatment for Dyslexia and Related Disorders

  1. Students enrolling in public schools in this state shall be tested for dyslexia and related disorders at appropriate times in accordance with a program approved by the State Board of Education.
  2. In accordance with the program approved by the State Board of Education, the board of trustees of each school district shall provide for the treatment of any student determined to have dyslexia or a related disorder.
  3. The State Board of Education shall adopt any rules and standards necessary to administer this section.
  4. In this section:
    Dyslexia” means a disorder of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write, or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence, and sociocultural opportunity. “Related disorders” includes disorders similar to or related to dyslexia, such as developmental auditory imperception, dysphasia, specific developmental dyslexia, developmental dysgraphia, and developmental spelling disability.

Talking about dyslexia…

"Dyslexia brings more gifts than glitches. If you have it, flaunt it. When you stumble, hold out a hand. Help will come. When you achieve, stand proud and then lend a hand with humility."
— Mark R. Wilkinson