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Defined in the Virginia Regulations


The Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia (effective March 27, 2002) define the term as follows:

Dyslexia is distinguished from other learning disabilities due to its weakness occurring at the phonological level. Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

2016 General Assembly Legislation


Dyslexia Awareness Training – Effective July 1, 2017, every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license shall complete awareness training, provided by VDOE, on the indicators of dyslexia, as that term is defined by the board pursuant to regulations, and the evidence-based interventions and accommodations for dyslexia.

Go to Licensure to for more information about seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license.

Technical Assistance: Implementation of “Dyslexia Advisor” Requirement

The following statement serves as clarification regarding the “dyslexia advisor” requirements that took effect July 1, 2017.  The language of the requirement as it appears in Code of Virginia § 22.1-253.13:2(G) (Standard Two of the Standards of Quality) is below.

One reading specialist employed by each local school board that employs a reading specialist shall have training in the identification of and the appropriate interventions, accommodations, and teaching techniques for students with dyslexia or a related disorder and shall serve as an advisor on dyslexia and related disorders. Such reading specialist shall have an understanding of the definition of dyslexia and a working knowledge of (i) techniques to help a student on the continuum of skills with dyslexia; (ii) dyslexia characteristics that may manifest at different ages and grade levels; (iii) the basic foundation of the keys to reading, including multisensory, explicit, systemic, and structured reading instruction; and (iv) appropriate interventions, accommodations, and assistive technology supports for students with dyslexia.

Implementation of this legislation is the responsibility of the local school division.  Individuals and school divisions are encouraged to choose a variety of professional development resources that, when combined, will provide coverage of the areas in the advisor requirement.  The Dyslexia Awareness Training Module is a 40 minute module required for initial or renewal of a Virginia License.  This module is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the dyslexia advisor, but may be one of many resources an individual or school system uses as part of a broader professional development plan.

Individuals and local school divisions may consider some or all of the following resources helpful as they consider a professional development plan to meet the requirements of the “dyslexia advisor” legislation.  Individuals and school divisions are encouraged to contact local colleges and universities for information regarding coursework, seminars, workshops, etc. that may be offered on the topic of dyslexia.  Determining the alignment of a professional development opportunity to the requirements of the “dyslexia advisor” legislation is the responsibility of the individual and/or local school division.

Disclaimer: The identification of any products of private vendors or links to websites are only for the purpose of providing examples and information and does not constitute the Department’s endorsement of such products or practices.  Selection of products and implementation of practices should be based on student needs, local regulations, and policies.

Informational/Instructional Resources

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Resources

  • sld-faqSpecific Learning Disability Supplementary Guide on Dyslexia:  Frequently Asked Questions – This document is designed to be a resource for teachers, administrators, and parents to address the educational needs of students with dyslexia.  The Guide provides information on the resources and services available to students with dyslexia through general education, as well as any student with dyslexia who may qualify to receive services as a student with a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504).
  • TeacherDirect –TeacherDirect is designed to establish a direct line of communication with classroom teachers and educators. The goal of TeacherDirect is to provide a way to share new instructional resources created by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) staff, as well as make teachers aware of professional development and grant opportunities, and other information of special interest to teachers and their students.
  • Accessible Instructional Materials – Virginia (AIM-VA) – Accessible Instructional Materials of Virginia provides accessible instructional materials at no cost to Virginia students with Individualized Education Programs (IEP) who qualify for the service.
  • Study of Dyslexia Screening for Kindergartners (PDF) – In 2010, the General Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 87 requesting that VDOE study Dyslexia screening for kindergarteners

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

  • OSEP Dear Colleague Letter on IDEA/IEP Terms – A “Dear Colleague Letter” by Michael Yudin addresses the reluctance by state and local education agencies to reference or use dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in evaluations, eligibility determinations, or in developing the individualized education program (IEP) under the IDEA.

International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Resources

  • Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading - The International Dyslexia Association’s  Knowledge and Practice Standards for teachers of reading define what all teachers of reading need to know and be able to do to teach all students to read proficiently.  The IDA Standards were written for two main audiences:  classroom educators and dyslexia specialists. 
  • Fact Sheets – The IDA fact sheets are convenient, professionally reviewed materials designed to improve understanding of dyslexia.  Fact sheets include, but are not limited to:  Dyslexia and the Brain, Effective Reading Instruction for Students with Dyslexia, and Dyslexia Basics. 
  • Dyslexia in the Classroom – Topics included in this resource are the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, classroom strategies, tips, and tools,  components of effective reading instruction, screening, evaluation, and diagnosis.
  • Dyslexia Handbook:  What Every Family Should Know – In addition to offering valuable information about dyslexia and its characteristics, this handbook provides information on assessments, effective teaching approaches, self-advocacy ideas, and a vast array of resources.

Additional Resources

  • Ask the Expert:  What is Dyslexia? – Sheldon Horowitz, senior director of learning resources and research at the National Center of Learning Disabilities, shares overview of dyslexia in this seven minute video. 
  • Matthew Effects – Does Reading Make you Smarter? – In his four minute video, Dr. Keith Stanovich discusses his famous "Matthew Effects" paper as well as research that demonstrate the relationship between intelligence, vocabulary growth, and reading.  He asks and answers the question: "Does reading make you smarter?
  • Share Your Story:  Learning Ally – Several students share their personal stories of overcoming the challenges associated with dyslexia. 


Professional Organizations

  • International Dyslexia Association (IDA) – The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is the oldest organization dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia.  The IDA is also committed to providing complete information and services to address the full scope of dyslexia and related reading and writing challenges.
  • Virginia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (VBIDA) – The Virginia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (VBIDA) is a branch of the International Dyslexia Association
  • The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) – The National Center for Learning Disabilities has a comprehensive and accessible information source; includes videos, articles, fact sheets.
  • Understood.org – This website, facilitated by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, provides parents and educators a wide variety of resources including  tips, articles, videos, blogs and more on the topic of dyslexia. 
  • LD Navigator – This website, facilitated by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, provides a comprehensive guide about learning and attention issues.
  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) – The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is a professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities.  The CEC accomplishes its mission through advocacy, standards, and professional development.
  • The Dyslexia Foundation (TDF) – The Dyslexia Foundation is a non-profit organization, established in 1989 to identify and assist children with dyslexia, and to establish higher levels of learning through specialized programs promoting better reading.  The mission is to promote scientific breakthroughs in the early detection, prevention and remediation of dyslexia and related reading difficulties.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America – Since 1963, Learning Disabilities Association of America has provided support to people with learning disabilities, their parents, teachers, and other professionals with cutting edge information on learning disabilities, practical solutions, and a comprehensive network of resources.
  • Reading Rockets – Offers strategies, lessons, activities, and ideas designed to help young children learn to read.
  • What Works Clearinghouse – The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education.  The goal is to provide educators with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions.  The website’s focus is on the results from high-quality research to answer the question “What works in education?”
  • Best Evidence Encyclopedia – The Best Evidence Encyclopedia is a free website created by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education's Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education (CDDRE) under funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. This website is intended to give educators and researchers fair and useful information about the strength of the evidence supporting a variety of programs available for students in grades K-12.

Reading Centers

  • Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity – The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity serves as a nexus for research on dyslexia, and is a leading source of advocacy and information to better the lives of people with dyslexia.   This site provides resources, information, and encouragement to people with dyslexia, parents, educators, and clinicians.
  • Florida Learning Disabilities Research Center – Part of the Florida Center for Reading Research’s mission is to disseminate information about research-based practices related to literacy instruction and assessment for children in PreK-12.