Code Read Dyslexia Network – Our origins
Code Read began with a gathering of passionate, proactive and like-minded parents (mums to be precise!) who had previously met online through dyslexia support groups.
Exhausted from advocating in isolation on behalf of our children, we then began to work collectively to help each other overcome the barriers that had previously prevented our children from achieving their full potential in school and throughout their lives.
In May 2015, inspired by her daughter Isley and the resultant meeting with Sir Richard Branson who spoke about how his own dyslexia had shaped his incredible life, our founding Secretary Julie Hermansen began to rally the troops in earnest to form a recognised, national organisation. The purpose of the organisation was to give a louder voice and practical support to the many thousands of children and their families living with dyslexia in Australia.
Later that year, Jen Cross from Canberra (eventually our founding Treasurer), suggested the fledgling group organise the illumination of significant landmarks throughout Australia to raise greater awareness of dyslexia. With great determination and without any external financial support, we set about creating a major event we called ‘Light it Red for Dyslexia’. It was held on 15th October 2015, barely six weeks after Jen had first suggested the idea. Based on the immediate reaction from communities around the country, we quickly realised how much of a positive impact we could make by working together.
From that fresh and exciting first year, we switched into overdrive and were seriously off and running. In 2016, the group organised an even larger Light it Red for Dyslexia, as well as a new month-long campaign called ‘My Red Letter for Dyslexia’.
Red became our colour symbolising power and our collective passion for positive change. We wanted to take back ownership of the colour red on behalf of so many dyslexic kids struggling through school, for whom it represented the daily dread of having their workbooks returned, covered by corrections in red ink.
In June 2016, encouraged by founding member Susan Milner, a number of our founders flew from all over the country to attend a meeting (held on that chilly day in a warm pub) in Melbourne, to begin the discussion of forming what would eventually become the Code Read Dyslexia Network. During the meeting, there was much discussion around setting our goals to initiate change nationally and by the end of that first meeting, there was a united feeling that something was actually beginning and real change was genuinely possible.
Who we are
We are Australians who are aware that children with dyslexia are being unnecessarily damaged by the education system, as a result of their needs not being recognised or given the assistance they require to learn. We are not prepared to let the current situation continue when the best practice approaches are already available but not being utilised.
We inclusive of parents, carers, educators, health professionals and people with dyslexia. We have all been impacted by dyslexia.
We support people with dyslexia and their families and we seek to disrupt the current situation.
What we Want
We want early screening and identification of literacy difficulties including phonemic awareness screening in Preschool and Kindergarten and a phonics check in Year One.
We want educators who are knowledgeable about dyslexia and are educated in identifying it. And using current evidence based teaching practices.
We want the education system to use current evidence based teaching practices.
We want effective evidence based literacy instruction in schools and high expectations for all students.
We want schools and teachers to be dyslexia aware and to give all students equitable access to the curriculum.
We want dyslexia to be destigmatised in the community.
We want action to alleviate the potentially devastating outcome of undiagnosed or unsupported dyslexia.
The education system specifically and more broadly, society, is set up to fail those with dyslexia.
• Currently, teachers in Australia are not being trained to teach reading effectively and they receive little to no training about dyslexia.
• Methods for teaching reading have a published and acceptable failure rate of at least 20%.
• Current teaching practice is to wait for children to fail before intervening.
• At least 1 in 10 people are dyslexic.
• 19% of Australian Year 4 students are not achieving proficient reading levels; this is equivalent to 70,000 students per year.
• 20% of children are at risk of reading failure.
• 21% of 15 year olds currently operate at baseline proficiency.
• 44% of adults lack the basic literacy skills needed for life.
• There is a significant correlation between literacy difficulties and mental health.
• At least 48% of our prison population have literacy difficulties.
As the whole education system is underpinned by literacy, it means that accessing the curriculum is next to impossible for people with dyslexia unless appropriate accommodations are put in place.
The education system, and in turn society, is set up to fail those with dyslexia.
We must fix it.
Code Read Dyslexia Network have had enough of a system that at best ignores people with dyslexia and at worst obstructs their achievement of success.
People with dyslexia and those around them often lower their expectations to match their level of literacy. Code Read want to challenge the assumption that people with dyslexia cannot do well academically when it is the system that is out of step.
The system allows for dyslexic people to fail. It is assumed they will fail and so they often do. Dyslexics often drop out, cause trouble, get into trouble, break the law and end up in prison. When those with dyslexia are high achievers it is often despite the system not because of it. This needs to change.
Spelling is the one aspect of dyslexia that causes people trouble even if they learn to read competently.
Spelling in front of colleagues or classmates can be embarrassing and people with dyslexia will often try to hide their disadvantage by avoiding situations requiring them to write.
Unfortunately, as a society we unfairly judge intelligence based on spelling errors and there is an assumption that someone who struggles to spell is not as capable or intelligent as their peers, when the opposite is most likely true. This difficulty with spelling is reflected in the word "trouble" itself which is spelt with an /ou/ instead of just a /u/.
Spell Trouble is also referencing the Code Read Dyslexia Network who are here to make "trouble" by drawing attention to the inequities in our education system and the workplace that those with dyslexia experience everyday. Code Read will agitate until the playing field is levelled.
People with dyslexia have an equal right to literacy.
However, due to the system not being designed with them in mind, they don’t have equal access to information and their potential. This is a human rights issue. Literacy is the key to beating poverty and we are denying this vital skill to 20% of our people through both neglect and ignorance.
There must be accountability.