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Rallying for LD In Ohio

Categories: Public Policy/Advocacy

On October 6 at the Dyslexia Awareness Day Rally in Columbus, Ohio, RFB&D stood beside a host of Legislators, parents, and students who learn differently. Kudos to Charlotte Andrist, President of COBIDA, her remarkable board members, and the three Ohio Branches of the International Dyslexia Association, for bringing groups together to speak as one voice. First things first: Ohio State Representatives Ted Celeste (pictured right) and William Batchelder have introduced a bipartisan bill to pilot early screening and accommodations for students who have dyslexia. They get it! They know that people with dyslexia can be successful at school and in life; that people with dyslexia are capable, intelligent people who deserve a level playing field. State Senator Kirk Schuring (below) knows it, too. He doesn’t yet have the sponsors needed in the Senate to introduce a bill that would provide training and support for teachers who work with students who learn differently. He needs our help to rally that support by October 12. Hats off to the many students who came to the State House Lawn of the Capitol to ask for equal access to the printed word.  I met so many inspiring young people – like a high school student whose favorite subject is biology. RFB&D provides the audio version of the textbooks she needs, and she excels. There was also mother who was at a loss for how to help her 10 year old son but refuses to give up. And I met Gayle, a woman with four beautiful children who are struggling to overcome the challenges imposed by dyslexia. Emily Long, recently inducted into the Society of Poets at her high school, bravely stepped up to the podium to read her moving poem, “The Monster.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience as Emily talked about the challenges she faces in learning because of the dyslexic beast she has grown up with. (Check out Emily's poem here in the RFB&D blog.) Janis Mitchell, CEO of Precise Resources, knows what it’s like to be discounted because of dyslexia. Fortunately her mother advocated for Janis to receive her textbooks on tape from RFB&D. The rest is history. Many parents sacrifice their time and their savings to get their children who have dyslexia the help that is not available in most Ohio public schools. Private schools charge $20,000 a year,  more than I paid for two sons to graduate from college and earn advanced degrees. People ask, “What can I do?”  In Ohio, the answer to that question is: Write your legislators and ask them to take a position to help the 280,000 Ohio students who learn differently. Shed some light on "the beast." Let Reps. Celeste and Batchelder know that you appreciate the work they are doing for all students; call your Senators and demand that they sponsor the bill written by Senator Schuring. And always hold your schools accountable to teach students who learn differently.    – Janet Milkovich, RFB&D VP of Public Policy and Advocacy

Note to RFB&D friends in Ohio:

Please take a few moments to let your legislators know that there are 280,000 Ohio students who learn differently yet only 4,000 students are getting the help they need from RFB&D. That’s not acceptable! We've crafted a sample e-mail text for your use, and have also provided the contact information for key decision makers in the state legislature. Please contact as many as possible to share your personal experiences with RFB&D and tell them how our program brings educational success to bright, motivated students with disabilities that make reading challenging or impossible. Please be sure to copy advocacy@rfbd.org on your email correspondences so that we may refer to the number of letters generated by our appeal.
Dear _______________ I am urging you to support legislation that provides solutions and valuable services for Ohio’s 280,000 students who learn differently. Early screening is essential so that students with dyslexia can be identified and given access to solutions such as RFB&D. Teacher training for meeting the needs of students like me is also critical to our success. We are intelligent and motivated to succeed. Access to RFB&D’s library of 64,000 audio textbooks helps to level the playing field so that I can keep pace with my peers. Please support our right to a good education. Thank you!

State Representatives and Senators:

Representative Ted Celeste:  district24@ohr.state.oh.us, 614-644-6005 Representative William Batchelder:  district69@ohr.state.oh.us, 614-466-8140 Senator Kirk Schuring:  SD29@senate.state.oh.us, 614-466-0626 Senator Tom Niehaus:  SD14@senate.state.oh.us, 614-466-8082 Senator Capri Cafaro:  SD32@maild.sen.state.oh.us, 614-466-7182

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