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U.S. Lawmakers Create Caucus Devoted to Dyslexia

Two members of Congress with children who have dyslexia recently created a new caucus devoted to the learning disability.

In a letter to fellow members of Congress, Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, and Rep. Pete Stark, a Democrat from California, note that dyslexia is the most common disability.

"All too often dyslexics are either misdiagnosed or misunderstood, and as a result their true skills and abilities go ignored," the pair wrote, noting a Government Accountability Office report released late last year that explored accommodations on standardized tests such as those required for college.

Disability experts and applicants also told us that, in some instances, they found testing companies' documentation requirements on providing a history of the disability to be unreasonable. ... For example, one applicant was asked to obtain a new evaluation of her disability even though school evaluations conducted every 3 years consistently showed that she has dyslexia. Applicants and disability experts we spoke with told us that obtaining these assessments can be cost prohibitive, and applicants reported costs for updating these assessments ranging from $500 to $9,000.

The representatives said there is much work to be done in raising awareness about dyslexia and changing policy to create opportunities and remove barriers for the success of those with dyslexia. A new movie, "The D Word," approaches dyslexia as a neurological issue, explaining that the struggle with the written word is not an indication of one's ability to think, to create, or to solve problems, and highlights successful people who have dyslexia.

Other congressional caucuses exist to rally around specific disabilities. One example is the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, formed in 2008. And the Autism Caucus was created more than 10 years ago.

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