The study of reading and dyslexia has been one of the major successes in modern cognition. Although many questions remain, there is broad agreement about basic facts (e.g., that dyslexia is a developmental condition that affects learning to read; that it mainly manifests in difficulties in linking spoken and written language; that it has genetic and neurobiological bases; that individual outcomes are determined by interactions among multiple risk factors that vary in severity, etc.). This view is not shared by other stakeholders, however. Dyslexia remains the “d-word” in education. Teachers lack the relevant background because it is not part of their training. They are more likely to be taught that the condition doesn’t exist, that it is just an excuse for poor teaching, and that any child can learn to read with sufficient effort. Books, articles, and websites that attempt to communicate research findings have little impact because they don’t reach the audience of disbelievers. Educators impede legislative attempts to address dyslexia and teacher preparation. Many dyslexics embrace the view that dyslexia is a “gift,” which is a way to blame dyslexics who fail to become Silicon valley billionaires or famous actors. This situation is harmful to dyslexics and to other people who struggle to read. What else can be done, by researchers and by organizations such as the IDA? I’ll advance several possibilities and challenges.
Mark Seidenberg has no relevant financial or nonfinancial relationships to disclose.
Vilas Research Professor, Donald O. Hebb Professor, Department of Psychology,
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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