'It's a start:' Group rallies support for bill that would create guidelines on dyslexia, other learning disabilities
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Advocates, parents, teachers and students gathered at the Capitol Friday to rally support for a bill that would create statewide guidelines on dyslexia and other learning disabilities.
Assembly Bill 110 would have the Department of Public Instruction create a guidebook on dyslexia and related conditions for teachers and parents to use.
“It’s a start,” Priscilla Gresens told CBS 58. “We need to start somewhere.”
Gresens is the assistant director at Arnold’s Reading Clinic in Madison and her brother, Nathan has dyslexia. She attended the rally in support of the bill.
“I think it will help. This is bringing awareness to teachers and the schools in every district in the state of Wisconsin.”
The rally was organized by Decoding Dyslexia Wisconsin, part of a national organization that raises awareness for dyslexia and pushes for legislation to address the issue.
“It’s important for the entire state,” said Katie Kasubaski, who is the state lead for Decoding Dyslexia Wisconsin. “It would bring continuity to the school boards looking for guidance on dyslexia as well as help parents, teachers and faculty.”
Kasubaski believes the guidebook created by the bill can help educators and parents navigate what can be at times a daunting landscape to learn about dyslexia that can produce many questions.
“A guidebook would prepare parents, teachers, administrators to answer those questions,” Kasubaski said. “We could have one source that everyone could go to and say, ‘these are the warning signs, these are the symptoms, these are the things you look for and here are some resources to help you.’”
The bill passed the Assembly with all Republicans voting in favor. But several Democrats voted against the bill.
“Democrats were uncomfortable with making a bill that defined dyslexia the same way that not all experts agree with,” Rep. David Bowen (D – Milwaukee) told CBS 58.
Bowen and other Democrats are concerned that the bill did not include input from certain groups, including the Wisconsin State Reading Association which registered in opposition of the bill. Democrats want to find a different approach.
“I think it’s essential that we have a process that can allow schools and school districts to figure out from a number of learning disabilities what is the best way to help our young people,” said Bowen.
Bowen is helping lead an effort to conduct a long-term study on dyslexia and other related conditions that he hopes produces legislation to address the issue.
AB 110 is now being considered by the Senate.