As founder of ForDyslexia, I had an intense 5 days to meet up with advisors, collaborators and friends from the dyslexia community, many who have helped me get this project off the ground. It was also a venue to listen to some of the most respected authorities in the field of dyslexia talk about their research and teaching methods.
I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Elaine Cheesman present, ALPHABETICS, in her very informative talk on the iPad apps she has reviewed and recommends. She used ALPHABETICS as a good research-based app for phonemic awareness. ForDyslexia has been fortunate enough to have Dr. Cheesman use ALPHABETICS in professional development courses.
We received insightful and constructive advice from teachers on how to improve the usability of the app in a classroom setting. Those changes were incorporated on the last update. Dr. Cheesman’s list of apps was highly solicited. I posted it for anyone who wishes to take a look here. Dr. Cheesman’s app chat makes regular appearances on the IDA newsletter, The Examiner. So be sure to watch out for her next tips. You can download ALPHABETICS here.
Highlights of the event included the Pinnacle Award acceptance speech given by Blake Charlton. It was the best acceptance speech I have ever heard.
Here he is pictured receiving his award from Dr. Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan, one of our early advisors for ForDyslexia. Blake overcame tremendous challenges with his dyslexia to go on to Yale and then Stanford Medical School. Currently he is a resident physician at the University of California. And, as if that weren’t enough to keep him busy, he also authored 2 fantasy novels featuring a hero with dyslexia who lives in a world where written words can be peeled off the page and turned into something physically real.
It was also a pleasure to meet Diana Hanbury King, founder of the Kildonan School, at this year’s conference. She was given the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement award. Read more about Diana King and her achievements on a previous post from this blog: Diana King and the Kildonan School.
The grassroots movement, Decoding Dyslexia, was present at the Conference with representatives from many US states and Round Table Sessions for parents to meet and discuss different topics. The Assistive Technology table was jam-packed throughout the sessions with people standing behind the chairs to listen in. Many parents did not want to change tables when the time period was up! It made it very evident that everyone is extremely interested in how they can best use assistive technology and they want to hear about which apps other parents found effective.
Here is Lyn Pollard from Decoding Dyslexia Dallas, Texas discussing upcoming meetings with Norma Garza and Vicki Myers– valuable advisors of ForDyslexia from the beginning.
Louisa Moats, Ed.D.received the Samuel T. Orton Award and then went on to discuss what it will take until every student who struggles with reading, language, and/or writing difficulties will get a well-trained teacher, working in a supportive context, equipped with the best tools. Dr. Moats has served on the national board of the International Dyslexia Association for many years, most recently as Chair of the Standards and Practices Committee that developed IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.
It was wonderful to meet author Tom West of In the Mind’s Eye at the Conference. Tom has been a strong supporter of the strengths of dyslexia for many years now. He wrote the book in 1997 and it is still relevant or perhaps even more so due to the latest research in the field of dyslexia. Two other authors, Brock and Fernette Eide, who also speak about the strengths that are prevalent in people with dyslexia in their book The Dyslexic Advantage, unfortunately were not able to make it to the Conference.
And of course, you can’t go to New Orleans without having dinner in the French Quarter!!!