State Senate passes Wisconsin's first dyslexia-specific bill

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Legislation meant to help dyslexic students in Wisconsin passed unanimously on the senate floor this week. It will now go to the governor's desk for a signature.

If signed, it'll be Wisconsin's first dyslexia-specific law.

For over a year Action 2 News followed parents, teachers, and supporters of the bill that would create a statewide dyslexia guidebook for teachers and families. It would contain information on how to identify, assess, and help dyslexic students which is something all schools in Wisconsin schools have gone without.

“It just means so much that the legislators are listening, and they are paying attention and they are willing to help our struggling readers, and as parents with these kids, it means to much to have people listen to us, and back us and understand,” said Kari Baumann, State Lead Advocate for Decoding Dyslexia Wisconsin.

State advocates fighting for this legislation said 1 in 5 students have dyslexia or reading struggles and it can often be misdiagnosed.

“There's a lot of myths and misunderstandings and information that floats around about dyslexia, so the guidebook is fantastic, it opens the door, it gets dyslexia on the map, and hopefully it'll provide some much needed, information for families and schools,” said Kelly Steinke, Founder of READ Learning Educational Services in Appleton.

The bill for a guidebook is one of several. This week there are hearings on a bill to hire dyslexia specialists in every region of the state, and another to have testing available to help identify dyslexic students.

The guidebook, advocates said, is a good first step.

“We need to get to a point where it's a common term, teachers, educators, principals, are comfortable saying the term dyslexia, are comfortable knowing what it is, and are comfortable helping students that show those signs and symptoms of dyslexia,” said Steinke.