Right To Read: Speech by DDON President Lark Barker

Lark Barker, parent, advocate and President of DDON, presented at the launch of the Right to Read inquiry report on February 28, 2022. Here is the transcript of her speech:

“Decoding Dyslexia Ontario is extremely grateful to the OHRC for completing this in-depth inquiry into the discrimination faced by students with reading disabilities in Ontario’s public schools.

We are grateful that the Commission took the time to listen to our children & parent community, when no one else would; and for recognizing the harm dyslexic children and families are experiencing in Ontario’s classrooms.

The report is filled with vital findings and recommendations that we look forward to
seeing implemented. However, there are two that strike us, at Decoding Dyslexia
Ontario, as having an immediate impact on our dyslexic children:

The first is that the OHRC recommends the Ministry of Education, Faculties of
Education and School Boards explicitly recognize and use the term ‘dyslexia’.
As the
Commission indicates, “the term dyslexia provides substantially more clarity than the
currently used term learning disabilities.” Using the term “dyslexia” will help the nearly quarter of a million dyslexic children in Ontario get diagnosed and access crucial interventions faster, leading to better school and life outcomes.

The second is the recommendation that The Ministry of Education must expedite a
revised Ontario Kindergarten Program, Language curriculum, and related guides and documents based on the Science of Reading.

Correspondingly, the Ministry must
ensure that Ontario teacher training aligns.
While this will help All Ontario students,
it is crucial for dyslexic learners- because we know evidence-based reading
intervention delivered early can close reading gaps for even the most severe
struggling readers. Students with dyslexia can no longer be excluded from an
education in Ontario when we know how to effectively teach reading to all students.

We call on the Ministry of Education, Faculties of Education & School Boards to acknowledge, endorse and implement the recommendations outlined in this report.

Our message to parents and children is ‘Thank you’.

Thank you for stepping up and sharing your stories. For being vulnerable and brave.
For too long we have been told dyslexia doesn’t exist, silenced, denied timely
identification, and faced ableism and barriers when trying to get support for our

Today, this report validates that you have been heard and your words have had an
impact. However, this journey is not over.
Now, more than ever, parent voice and advocacy will be needed to push for these
recommended changes and to demand accountability.

Our sincerest hope is that parents can use this report, and the listed recommendations, to ensure that their child receives the supports they not only need, but deserve and are entitled to in Ontario classrooms.

As noted in the inquiry report, “The inquiry is not just about an equal right to read –
it is about an equal right to a future.”

Thank you.

Published by decodingdyslexiaon

Decoding Dyslexia Ontario (DDON) is a voluntary, parent-led movement driven by families who are concerned with the limited access to interventions for children with dyslexia in Ontario public schools.

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