Dyslexia is one of the most common reading based learning disabilities out there. As the years pass, more research is backing up the fact that when a dyslexic reads, different areas of the brain are used when compared to those without it.
What does this mean? Many things, but one of the results of the unique processing that goes on is a specific group of teaching methods seems to help dyslexic children learn how to read more easily, and thus access more information later on in life with minimal difficulty.
Because such specific intervention benefits so many people, it makes sense that dyslexia should be afforded recognition in state laws in order for parents and individuals to attain proper accommodations in education.
After reading an article about some states not recognizing dyslexia, and even more personal accounts of dyslexic people and their parents needing to fight to even get recognized, I decided to look into which states recognized it and which didn’t.
At first, I thought I’d look at the Department of Education web pages to see if I could find any laws regarding dyslexia. After quite a bit of frustration and dead ends, I figured out the best place to look seemed to be legislation pages.
That turned out to be just as frustrating, but I was able to find out some valuable information. Some of the pages were very easy to navigate, while others were absolutely horrible, so I may have missed information in some of the states.
I should have kept track of which ones were extremely unfriendly to dyslexia, but that didn’t happen.
Anyway, below is a list of the states in the US and what I could find.
I simply put “yes” and a link to the relevant legislation next to states that recognized dyslexia as an independent learning disability, and an explanation next to the states that didn’t with a link to the page I researched.
As for the ones that I could find no mention of dyslexia, they probably recognize it as “Specific Learning Disability”, like in IDEA.
Alabama – No legislation mentioning dyslexia. (State legislation page here.)
Alaska – Found no legislation with dyslexia mentioned, but it was brought up in the minutes of this meeting. (State legislation page here.)
Arizona – No legislation mentioning dyslexia. (State legislation page here.)
Arkansas – Yes. (Bill here.)
California – Dyslexia expressly classified under the umbrella term Specific Learning Disability. (Code here.)
Colorado – Yes. (Statutes here.)
Connecticut – Found a bill passed this July about reducing misidentification or inappropriately identification of students with reading difficulties to assign them to special education here. What bothers me the most about this is that I found nothing about dyslexia or specific learning disabilities at all elsewhere. Most of what related to special education in general seemed to be about funding and discouragement of enrolling students in the programs. (State legislation page here.)
Delaware – Nothing about dyslexia, specific learning disabilities or learning disabilities expressly stated in the legislature. However, they had a few documents about developmental disabilities, assistive technology and general disabilities. (State legislation page here.)
Florida – Dyslexia clearly classified as specific learning disability. (Statute here. Stated at the end of Part I, 1007.2.)
Georgia – No mention of dyslexia. (State legislation page here.)
Hawaii – Yes. (Senate resolution here.)
Idaho – Dyslexia is classified as a “developmental disability”. (Statute here.)
Illinois – An act is in process to address dyslexia and other reading disability early intervention. It was just filed 10/15/2013. (Act here.)
Indiana – The only mention of dyslexia I could find was in a pending bill about granting township officials help if they have it. (State legislation page here.)
Iowa – No mention of dyslexia or SLD, though there were sections about autism. (State legislation page here.)
Kansas – Yes. (Bill here.)
Yes. (Bill summary here.) I’ve been informed that Kentucky does NOT recognize dyslexia as a stand alone disability. The bill linked died in the Education committee before it got to the floor. However, they’ll be giving it another try soon!
Louisiana – Yes. (Law here.)
Maine – I had a hard time finding anything in the education sections of the statutes regarding dyslexia, but Maine does exempt organizations which provide free literacy and clinical assistance to dyslexic kids from being taxed. (Bill here. The note is in section three, letter L.)
Maryland – Yes. (List of bills addressing dyslexia here.)
Massachusetts – Yes. (Chapter of the law regarding dyslexia here.)
Michigan – No mention of dyslexia. (State legislation page here.)
Minnesota – Yes. (Bill summary here.)
Mississippi – Yes. (Code here. They also have a number of official state scholarship programs for students and teachers geared towards dyslexic friendly teaching methods.)
Missouri – Yes. (General assembly page here. To find the specific statute, go under the drop menu under “MO Statutes”, click statute search and enter “dyslexia” into the query field.)
Montana – I had a hard time using this page, but the latest bill regarding dyslexia that I could find was this one demonstrating proposed changes made in 2003. The entire “Specific Learning Disability” spot was stricken, instead opting for the general term “disabled child”. When I tried finding the status of the bill, I kept getting an error.
Nebraska – Grouped under the term specific learning disability. (Statute here.)
Nevada – Defined as a specific learning disability. (List of definitions here.)
New Hampshire – I found a bill that stalled in the House in 2011 proposing a committee study the rising number of children diagnosed with autism mentioning dyslexia. I found another bill from 1993, about IEPs that mentioned “educationally disabled students”, too. I couldn’t find anything that offered a specific definition of what category dyslexia falls under, though. I suppose “educationally disabled” would work. It was very unclear. (General Court page is here.)
New Jersey – Yes. In fact, NJ requires all public school students be screened for dyslexia by the end of first grade. (Legislature page here. A search for the keyword “dyslexia” will bring up the bills.)
New Mexico – Classified as SLD, as of December 2009. However, the state educational department worked with a dyslexia consultant as recently as 2012. It looks like they’re working with Texas to see which methods to adopt from the Texas department of education to help with reading education.
North Carolina – Couldn’t find anything relating to dyslexia. (General Assembly page here.)
North Dakota – Classified under the term “learning disability”. (Draft of one of the bills here. It was defined as such in other documents as well.)
Ohio – The only legislation I could find was in officially designating October as Dyslexia Awareness Month. (General Assembly page here.)
Oklahoma – Yes (List of statues here. The one relating to dyslexia is 70, and the site will require you to download an .rtf file in order to view it.)
Oregon – I couldn’t find anything in the laws relating specifically to dyslexia, but it was mentioned in a study about their library system. (Legislature page here.)
Rhode Island – Yes. (Act here.)
South Carolina – The only place I could find dyslexia mentioned was in the Read to Succeed Act, in which the International Dyslexia Association was mentioned.
South Dakota – Defined as a Specific Learning Disability here.
Tennessee – Couldn’t find anything relating containing dyslexia. (General assembly page here.)
Texas – Yes (Codes hereand here. There are quite a few others regarding other aspects related to dyslexia as well.)
Utah – Yes. (Bill here.)
Vermont – Couldn’t find anything relating to dyslexia. (Legislature page here.)
Virginia – The latest mention I could find of dyslexia was a 2010 request for the department of education to conduct a study about screening kindergartners for it. (Summary here.)
Washington – Yes. (State bill here.)
West Virginia – Yes. (Bill here.)
Wisconsin – The only places I could find dyslexia mentioned were in a number of audits and a few acts regarding the Read to Lead program. One act is here.
Wyoming – Yes. (Statute here– scroll down to Article 4 for dyslexia related information)
I found an absolutely fantastic resource for more information and updates here. It really helped with my research.
It’s worth noting that even if your state recognizes the term “dyslexia”, accommodations may still be hard to get. Many students have gotten wonderful help in states that don’t, while others have had to fight tooth and nail to get it in states that do.
A lot of it depends on the individual school you or your child are attending, but having dyslexia specific laws on the books might give you back up to get the help you or your child needs.
Some members of congress are also working to increasing dyslexia awareness and make help more available. Check out the Bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus. If your state isn’t represented, please give your representative a call or send them a letter encouraging them to join.