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Selected sessions of the Arkansas Department of Education's coming two-day Dyslexia Conference for Schools will be live-streamed, or broadcast online, for viewing by parents, teachers and others interested in the topic.

More than 700 people are registered for the first-of-its-kind state conference that will feature some 70 state and national presenters Monday and Tuesday at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

The conference speakers include Dr. Sally Shaywitz, co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity and author of the book Overcoming Dyslexia; Timothy Odegard, Murfree Chair of Excellence in Dyslexic Studies at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro; and Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Duval County, Fla., public schools.

Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key; Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock; and U.S. Rep Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., a member of the Bipartisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus, will open the conference Monday morning.

The live-streaming of general sessions was arranged after the maximum number of conference registrants was reached and parents, educators and vendors had to be turned away, Arkansas Department of Education staff said Friday.

Stacy Smith, the Education Department's interim assistant commissioner for learning services, said the free conference targeting public and private school educators was organized in response to state law on dyslexia that was passed in 2013 and revised in 2015.

"Schools are required to implement the dyslexia law that requires them to have an interventionist and an identified program," Smith said. "It also requires them to have screening for their students. This is still a very new law as far as being implemented in schools, and schools are thirsty for professional development in this area."

Act 1268 of 2015 defines dyslexia as a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin and characterized by difficulties with accurate and fluent word recognition, as well as poor spelling and decoding abilities that typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language. Additionally, the disability "is often unexpected in relation to the student's other cognitive abilities."

Vicki King, dyslexia specialist for the Arkansas Department of Education, said the state has not been required in the past to keep data on the number of students diagnosed with dyslexia.

"But the research shows us that about 20 percent of the population has the weakness in the phonological component of language," King said, "which if not addressed appropriately could end up being detrimental to their literacy development."

The link for the live-streamed conference sessions is:

The schedule for the sessions follows:


• 8:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m. general session.

• 10 a.m.-10:55 a.m. Susan Barton, "How to Spot Dyslexia in Writing Samples."

• 12 p.m.-1:15 p.m. Vitti, "Breaking the Status Quo for Dyslexic Students: The Creation of the GRASP Academy in Duval County Public Schools."

• 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. general session. Westerman and Shaywitz.

• 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Congressional Dyslexia Forum.


8:30 a.m.-9:45 a.m., general session: Odegard, "An Overview of Developmental Dyslexia and Specific Reading Disability."

The forum, which is running in conjunction with the conference Monday at the convention center, is free and open to members of the public who register in advance.

Titled "A Practical Guide for Implementing Dyslexia Intervention," the forum will be hosted by Westerman. Some of the speakers from the Education Department's conference will also be participants at the forum. A separate registration is necessary. That can be done at

Metro on 03/05/2016

Print Headline: Dyslexia conference set to stream online


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