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Group helps students with dyslexia get screen readers for state testing

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A grassroots movement of parents seeking to raise awareness about dyslexia have made progress after getting an amendment to a Senate bill. 

The group believes students should be able to have the use of a screen reader when taking state tests. 

One in five of Indiana students is dyslexic. In January, leaders from Decoding Dyslexia say the state was establishing state testing policies that denied students with disabilities accommodations. 

Leader Cheryl Clemens went before the State Board of Education. She says students are denied the use of a screen reader, which is referred to as text to speech, for the reading comprehension portion of the ELA test.

Clemens says students are receiving their classroom materials via an auditory route. The mother of four says the state denying the screen reader is happening in testing for grades third through eighth and for Indiana’s Graduation Qualifying Exam. 

“I got to bed at night thinking about it and wake up thinking about it and it’s made me sick,” Clemens said. “It’s crazy to think about how many kids are being denied. As a person, you have to decide and faith doesn’t allow me to not speak up.” 

An amendment was made to Senate Bill 390 on April 11. It says that no later than Jan. 1, 2020, screen readers will be provided to students on every section of the statewide examination that the particular student has for classroom instruction or as part of the student’s individualized education program.