Students first: NoticeAbility delivers transformative workshop at 2018 IDA conference

The International Dyslexia Association annual conference represents a prime opportunity to be among people who recognize that the potential of students with dyslexia is too often untapped. The community is so supportive and meaningful for parents, practitioners, and researchers because finding a process that works to address the literacy challenges associated with dyslexia is an oasis for parents searching for answers. So much of what parents and students want is to find a way forward, a place to show what they can contribute, to have an even playing field and have their strengths recognized. But even while the educators, literacy specialists, parents, and researchers are in presentation sessions talking about the latest best practices in education, we noticed that many of the young people who happen to come along with parents were traditionally relegated to finishing school work in a hotel room. In 2018 NoticeAbility’s founder and IDA board member Dean Bragonier volunteered to change that by hosting a workshop based on our Entrepreneurs & Innovators enrichment course.

“As we started NoticeAbility” shared Dean, “we got a lot of feedback from parents asking: ‘How do we introduce a tool, a curriculum, a service to schools that will enable them to embrace not only the potential of these students, but also provide an answer to the parents who desperately want to see the self-esteem and confidence of their child grow?’ Why were they asking us to take action? Because they know that even under the best of circumstances, that self-image is a casualty of the dyslexic learning experience.”

So with the support of local schools and motivated parents, NoticeAbility hosted 38 young people at the IDA conference for a 2 day workshop - a condensed version of our Entrepreneurs & Innovators course. We got these young pioneers working in small groups, identifying their strengths, and parents were noticing the difference even before the program was over. One mom said: “We came to give our son a sense of being an entrepreneur, to get a sense of what he’s good at, and he’s thrilled!” “I don’t remember the last time I saw my son flying this high. He’s just been so pumped!” said another parent. A couple shared that their daughter always asks them to scribe for her when it comes time to complete writing assignments for school. But in between the days of the NoticeAbility workshop at IDA, when she woke up with ideas for her innovation project, when they offered to write the ideas down she said “no, that’s ok mom, I’ll do it by myself.” This preliminary feedback suggests that there’s something happening worthy of a proper research effort to investigate the links between this social and emotional learning enrichment course, and the academic tenacity we hope to foster in our young people. We’re excited that the organizers of the 2019 IDA annual conference have adopted the saying that students with dyslexia have started promoting: “Nothing about us, without us!” We look forward to supporting the continued leadership of these empowered capable students as we work together to advocate for what’s right.

See the video recap of the workshop in action here: