I was diagnosed as having dyslexia in 1973 and spent the next seven years in substandard private schools which claimed to have been able to treat my “learning disability”. I then returned to the public school system in Dallas and attended a high school which had low academic standards. In 1984, I was admitted to The University of Texas at Austin due to a fortunate clerical error at a time when there was an unofficial policy to deny admission to dyslexic applicants. Over the next two years, I successfully fought the UT Austin bureaucracy to receive all necessary accommodations for my dyslexia – which included dysgraphia, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia – and graduated in 1989 with a grade-point-average of 3.23 and a bachelors degree in Organizational Communication.
I soon wrote, self-published, and marketed a book which explained how dyslexics could achieve academic success and combat hostile school bureaucracies through the utilization of special cognitive advantages which dyslexia provides. This book sold over six thousand copies worldwide and was placed on the recommended reading lists of several organizations for the learning disabled.
I was surprised and saddened to read an article published by The Houston Chronicle in September which exposed discrimination against dyslexic students in Texas. I had thought that such disgraceful practices ended years ago with the passage of legislation to protect the rights of all students. I have recently come to realize this legislation has been largely ineffective and academic barriers which I faced during my youth currently exist throughout the United States.
I have decided to make my book available for free public distribution. I have also written the attached article which provides a new perspective on dyslexia, dispels myths, and focuses attention on the vital role which dyslexics have to play in the world today. This topic is especially interesting in the wake of Dyslexia Awareness Month which highlighted challenges that twenty percent of the population currently faces.
James E. Woods