Changes to Federal Disability Law

ada-blogThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a final rule to amend its Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in order to incorporate the statutory changes to the ADA federal disability law, which were set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and took effect on January 1, 2009.

The DOJ has made several major revisions to the meaning and interpretation of the term disability in the ADA Amendments Act. The revised language clarifies that the term disability shall be interpreted “broadly” and “applied without extensive analysis”. Minimizing the need for extensive evaluations that often cost thousands of dollars! This is intended to make it easier for an individual to establish that he or she has a disability. The rule took effect on October 11, 2016.

excerpt of federal registerIn addition to requiring the definition of disability to be broadly interpreted, the final regulations expand the definition of “major life activities” by providing a non-exhaustive list of major life activities that specifically includes the operation of major bodily functions. The activity of “writing” was added as an example of a major life activity. Reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating were also included among others.

This is a great step in the right direction to make identification and accommodations for the disabled more accessible. The Lexercise evaluation follows ADA regulations.  If your child needs a school accommodations plan (aka, a 504 Plan) for a reading or writing disability our evaluation should provide the school’s assessment team with what they need to write an effective, individualized plan that complies with the ADA.

For more information on the final rule see the Federal Register [PDF], Vol. 81, No. 155, August 11, 2016.

Schools Deny Dyslexia

Don't Deny and DelayWe hear from parent after parent that the school is failing their child. Unfortunately, schools deny dyslexia and delay children from getting the right help. There are many flaws in the bureaucracy of school systems that make it difficult if not impossible to identify a child with dyslexia and then provide them with the right intervention. Author Holly Korbey from KQED recently wrote about this difficulty in her article “Who Helps Kids With Dyslexia Gain Reading Fluency?”. The article highlights dyslexia expert, educational psychologist, and our friend Martha Youman, Ph.D.

Martha began as an elementary school teacher and quickly realized that despite her master’s in teaching she was completely uneducated to identify her struggling students as dyslexic. Since then, Martha has continued on to become a dyslexia expert and school psychologist to help identify and support those children with learning disabilities. picture of martha youman phdUnfortunately, that isn’t enough, Martha admits “… there are multiple bureaucratic barriers standing in the way of students getting help” (Korbey, 2015). Even if a parent is able to get their child an IEP after months if not years of passing through red tape, it may not be effective. Martha says “…..whether or not IEPs actually help depends upon the individual school’s resources, because teachers and paraprofessionals need to be trained on what exercises to do to help students diagnosed with dyslexia, and the best results come from individual instruction. She admitted that in many cases, IEPs don’t really work and many families must rely on private tutors” (Korbey, 2015). Dyslexia intervention in schools often means a child is taken out of class and given “extra help” in groups of 5-10. Yet individualized 1:1 help is absolutely necessary to teach a dyslexic child how to approach reading in a way that their brain is wired to learn.

Laurie Cutting, professor of special education and faculty director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic says “approximately 1-2 percent of kids will always struggle, but that leaves 48 percent — nearly all of that second half of the classroom — who would be greatly helped with direct instruction correctly administered”(Korbey, 2015). Cutting’s clinic uses the same Orton-Gillingham-based therapy that Lexercise provides; however, we have the advantage of helping any family no matter where they live. She goes on to explain the problem: “’You have a finite amount of money and a bunch of kids. The kids who are going to get the services are most likely the ones who are the most severe or have the most advocates… It’s sort of a fundamental fact of life. It’s too bad that we are not able to capture kids early enough to do some remediation so that they don’t have as many word-level problems. It’s too bad that teachers many times aren’t trained in a way that allows those kids to work through their weaknesses, to sound out their words. Because that would benefit all of the kids”(Korbey, 2015).

Teletherapy illustration-child with clinicianWho will help your child? We will. If you are concerned that your child may be dyslexic you can screen them for free here. Don’t wait for the school to provide inadequate help. Don’t let the school deny and delay your child the help that they need. Lexercise will match you with a specialized therapist who will help your child improve their reading to grade level in a matter of months!