WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), author of the 21st Century Dyslexia Act, applauded Representatives Bruce Westerman (R-AR-04), Larry Bucschon (R-IN-08), Steven Palazzo (R-MS-04), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), and Jim McGovern (D-MA-02) for introducing the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cassidy’s legislation aims to bring our modern, scientific understanding of dyslexia to federal statute and prevent the harm inflicted on young students when their dyslexia goes unidentified.
“Every child must have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Our legislation makes sure that dyslexics are identified before they fall behind in the classroom. We are one step closer to improving the lives of children. I urge Senate and House colleagues to pass this bill.”
The 21st Century Dyslexia Act is cosponsored by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Kennedy (R-LA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and John Hickenlooper (D-CO).
Currently, dyslexia is included as one of many disabilities under “Specific Learning Disabilities” (SLD) in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). SLD is the most common disability category for children covered under IDEA, representing more than 33 percent of these students. However, despite dyslexia being the most prevalent disability within SLD, students are rarely diagnosed with dyslexia. This prevents them from getting the services and accommodations necessary to assist dyslexic students learning to read. When children are not identified with dyslexia, evidence shows that lifelong harm is done, resulting in lower career wages, reduced graduation rates, and even increased rates of incarceration.
This legislation helps students and solves the problem by pulling dyslexia out of the overly broad definition of SLD and including it in the list of disabilities included in the definition of a “child with a disability,” thus classifying dyslexia as its own category within IDEA. In doing so, the 21st Century Dyslexia Act provides a clear definition of dyslexia, which is the same definition that was adopted in the First Step Act of 2018.