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24 march 2016

Report from BDA Conference

Michael Kalmár speaking at the conference
Michael Kalmár speaking. Photo by Phil Wormley, BDA

The European Dyslexia Association board was gracefully invited to attend the British Dyslexia Associations international Conference in Oxford between March 10–12, 2016. Our Chairman, Michael Kalmár took part in the opening ceremony with a speech addressing the collaboration between our two organisations. He also spoke about the fact that only 14 countries so far has ratified the Marrakesh Treaty, which enables blind, visually impaired and dyslexic persons and their organisations to produce, to use and to transfer accessible formats like daisy-readers, e-books and large print without any copyright restrictions.You can read Michaels speech as a whole further down.

The opening speech by our Chairman, Michael Kalmár

"Excellences, esteemed colleagues, dear friends, 

Dyslexia and Dyscalculia still present concerns and challenges for millions of children and adults across Europe. This fact requires major changes to improve attitudes, legislation and positive practice in education, vocational training, the workplace and the general public, to be lobbied by the Civil Society and NGOs representing the affected ones.

The British Dyslexia Association has taken over this duty here in Britain; with fantastic performance and success! Like – besides many other important activities – organising the BDA’s International Conferences. These Conferences are highly appreciated landmarks, bringing together actual research, best practice in therapy, education and work life and persons with dyslexia and dyscalculia and their relatives.

 I as chairman of the EDA, I appreciate very much to be allowed to present greeting words and best wishes of the EDA Board for this conference, which will host as well a Board Meeting of the EDA. Both organisations are deeply aligned based by the fact that the British Dyslexia Association was 1987 one of the founding members of the European Dyslexia Association. Many things have changed since 1987. The EDA became the European platform and the Voice of the People with dyslexia and other specific learning differences, children’s parents, professionals and researchers alike in Europe.

The EDA encompasses today 42 organisations in 26 countries in Europe. The work of the EDA Directors – predominantly volunteers – is not very visible to the public. Our main lobbying targets are the institutions of the EU, the Parliament, the Commission and the Council. It is very difficult to reach and to inform them about our needs as well as bring them together to decide improvements for the dyslexic and dyscalculic European Citizen. An example: After 5 years intensive lobbying together with the Blinds organisations 80 countries including the EU itself signed 2013 the Marrakesh Treaty, which enables blind, visually impaired and dyslexic persons and their organisations to produce, to use and to transfer accessible formats like daisy-readers, e-books and large print without any copy-right restrictions. But until today only 14 countries have ratified this for us so important treaty, but not the EU and none of the European countries, although the European Parliament just recently (I quote the accepted motion) “notes with profound indignation that seven EU Member States have formed a minority block that is impeding the process of ratifying the Treaty and calls on the Council and the Member States to accelerate the ratification process” (End of the quote).

Other activities of the EDA are more visible:

I am delighted to report that the EDA’s Curriculum “European Guidance Criteria for the Education and Professionals Working with Persons with Dyslexia” is now at disposal of the public.

Following the success of the Youth camps 2014 and 2015, EDA has the pleasure of announcing a new international camp for European youth with dyslexia and dyscalculia. This time it will be held between July 23 and July 30, 2016 in Malta. This youth camp intends to provide a field for European Youth from 18 to 30 to join, to improve their knowledge of English and their confidence in communicating in English in a supportive setting and to share their experiences.

In the eve of 21th of September 2016 the 5th All-European Dyslexia Conference of the EDA, in cooperation with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, will start with a reception at the Ferrari Museum in Modena. Join us in the beautiful town of Modena, Italy, the home of Ferrari and balsamic vinegar and in September the hotspot for the International Dyslexia Community. After the 2013 Conference at the Linnaeus University, Sweden it is time once again to exchange latest research, to discuss best practice models in interchange with persons with dyslexia and dyscalculia. Please make a reservation in your calendar and stay tuned through our website for more information. You can look forward to 8 parallel conference tracks filled with presentations and workshops. A full draft program will be issued in early April, 2016. The Call for Paper is open until end of March.

 In 2017 we will organise another three days’ EDA Summer seminar with prominent keynote speakers and European lecturers in a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere like we had it in the last years in San Marino.      

Like the BDA’s one in Britain, the mission of the EDA is to ensure that every person with Dyslexia, Dysphasia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia or Attention Deficit Disorder has the right to access and to receive appropriate identification, support and opportunity to achieve their full potential in education, vocational training, and employment and in all aspects of life.

Let’s continue our fight for this aims together!

Thank you for your attention."

Michael Kalmár, Chairman of the European Dyslexia Association

 

02 December 2014

Proposals to the French education system

The Editorial of the Bulletin 82 – December 2014 - published by the french association APEDA France, Associations de Parents d'Enfants et d'Adultes en Difficulté d'Apprentissage du langage écrit et oral (dyslexie, dysorthographie, dyscalculie) Association Loi 1901, (French Association of Parents of Children with learning disabilities in written and oral language) presents the proposals made by the researcher Franck Ramus. In the french version of his article “Dyslexia the debate “ , which is the text of his conference speech made at the international congress of the French National Speech Therapists – FNO – 2014, the Researcher Franck Ramus gives very clear and practical advices to the French Education System :

In short : the teachers should receive efficient training in order to :

  • use phonics-based teaching programs intensive, systematic and explicit
  • be able to recognize very soon, during the first months of the first class, the pupils having difficulties in learning to read and write
  • these pupils should receive special training in little groups given by the teacher
  • if the pupils have still some difficulties, the teacher should adapt their way to teach in order to meet the pupils special needs
  • at least if this doesn't fit, the pupil should be evaluated by specialist, neuro psychologists or speech therapist.

“Response to Intervention” must guide the way to teach with the question “does the pupil progress ? If not, finding out why and what to do to improve his or her learning. The pupils have to be helped as soon as possible if learning difficulties appear whatever the reason of these difficulties are. It is a way to avoid in future illiteracy and to discover specific learning disabilities. http://franck-ramus.blogspot.fr/2014/10/le-debat-sur-la-dyslexie-quels.html

In 2013 the results of the tests made at the french “Journée de défense et de citoyenneté” 17 years old boys : 4% could be considered as illiterate , 9,6 had difficulties in reading. (Journal le Monde 27-28 avril 2014)

02 December 2014

Systematic review of tests and interventions on Dyslexia

There are tons of different methods to diagnose and test for dyslexia out there. The clinical practice varies widely, and identifying the screening methods, diagnostic processes and support measures for which scientific evidence has been established is a challenging task. Therefore the Swedish government has commissioned the Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU) to systematically review and evaluate the scientific evidence for diagnostic or screening tests and interventions for children and adolescents with dyslexia.

Children with dyslexia benefits from structured training

If children with dyslexia practices the connection between speech sounds (phonemes) and letters in a structured manner they are able to improve their abilities to read, spell and comprehend the content of a text. The SBU are yet to conclude the benefits of other forms of literacy training or newer assistive technologies such as reading pens or apps in mobile phones, since there is not enough research done on this.

The Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU) has reviewed the scientific evidences for diagnostic or screening tests and interventions for children and adolescents with dyslexia.The resulting report on dyslexia is the first one of its kind in this area. The SBU shows that it is possible to test abilities that can predict dyslexia even before the child starts school. The benefits and eventual risks of early tests has not been evaluated in this summary. Nor has actions aimed for children before receiving reading training in school been evaluated in this report.

In Sweden there are more than 50 different tests and interventions used for children and adolescents with dyslexia. The SBU has made an inventory and evaluation on the tests for children/adolescents between the ages of 6 to 20 and found that none of them are scientifically evaluated. This means, according to SBU, that they can not state whether or not these tests are reliable or, if the measure what is intended. But at the same time it doesn't have to mean that the tests are bad. More research is needed in order to find out.

The conclusions of the review, in brief, are:

  • By training children with dyslexia to associate speech sounds (phonemes) with letters (graphemes) in a structured way, improvements can be made in their reading comprehension, reading speed, spelling, and ability to pay attention to the language’s phonetic structure (phonological awareness).
  • Due to insufficient evidence no conclusions could be drawn regarding the usefulness of other forms of literacy training or assistive technologies (tools for support, compensate and develop reading skills such as apps in the mobile phone).
  • Some tests may predict dyslexia even before children have been formally taught to read and write in school. For instance, rapid automatized naming (RAN), deficits in phonological awareness or letter knowledge can be detected early and may be associated with dyslexia. Benefits and potential risks of such early testing procedures have not been evaluated in this report. Interventions for children before they have begun school have not been evaluated in this report.
  • Only few of the international diagnostic tests were scientifically evaluated. Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and Woodcock-Johnson Test of Achievement (WJ) have subtests that are reliable: DIBELS- Letter Naming Fluency and WJ- Word Identification/Letter-Word Identification, respectively DIBELS- Nonsense Word Fluency and WJ- Letter Word Identification/comprehension are validated.

 Read more about this report here: http://www.sbu.se/en/Published/Yellow/Dyslexia-in-Children-and-Adolescents--Tests-and-Interventions/

01 September 2014

Libraries decide to help persons with dyslexia and related difficulties

During the IFLA Congress in Lyon, the Dyslexia Session “DYSLEXIA? Welcome to our Library” took place on 19 August 2014 
In that session Dr Anne-Marie Montarnal, EDA Administrator contributed with ”What is new about dyslexia and EDA” .

In 2001 the IFLA for the first time published the “Guidelines for Library Services to Persons with Dyslexia”. Since then the attitude towards persons with dyslexia has changed, supporting them with solutions and alternative ways of reading and writing. The new revision of the “Dyslexia Guidelines” had been facilitated by IFLA and became a joint venture of the two neighboring sections “Library Services to People with Special Needs” (LSN” and “Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities” (LPD). These revised and enlarged guidelines for Library Services to persons with dyslexia can be downloaded from : www.ifla.org/lsn

Some short examples of help and materiel given in the Libraries :

  • Easy to read books (with adapted page sitting lay-out).
  • Exposition of the front of the books (easier to read)
  • Listening to Audio Books or reading books and listening at the same time to the audio books,
  • ICT program allows to listen to the reading of texts or books.

In the Library:

  • Important to have a well organized space and presentation with an “easy-to-read area” Materials and I-tools should be situated in a central location close to the information desk.
  • Important to offer a personal contact with a librarian aware of the special difficulties of persons with dyslexia or related difficulties may experience.

Without guidance, the task for a dyslexic or SLD student in Library can be challenging . But if he or she feels understood, it will immediately be easier for him/her. (Gavin Reid)

29 August 2014

Files from European Parliament Conference 2013

We have now uploaded files originating from the 2013 European Parliament Conference in Brüssels in October, for you to download.

Read more here and download the files