Tuesday, May 10, 2016

I've received my Masters from Brandeis University with the Gift of Dyslexia

On March 29, 2016 I finished my Masters of Science in Health and Medical Informatics from Brandeis University and was nominated by the faculty and administration to be the Student Marshal at the May 22, 2016 graduation ceremony. Without the assistive technology that Apple has incorporated into my devices this would not be my story.

I was diagnosed in 1967 with dyslexia and had to be retested in 2013 for dyslexia to receive my accommodations at Brandeis University.

The future is yours....
Thank you Apple for being an advocate for those who are trying to understand that dyslexia can be a gift once it is diagnosed and the proper tools are given to the individual.  There is hope which can be turned into success with assistive technology in education/life. There is a huge struggle within my state of Florida, and other states who do not recognize dyslexia as a learning disability which is protected by the American Disabilities Act (ADA). There are some staggering statistics which I would like to briefly express in my hope that my success can change the minds of educators, politicians, parents and encourage children/individuals/students to turn what most people call a disability into the gift that it can be with the proper tools.

32% of students with dyslexia fail to graduate from high school
50% of youth in juvenile detention system have dyslexia (why it will be a 0 budget item, if legislation is passed to test individuals in schools and provide tools to succeed)
60% of adolescents in drug and alcohol rehabilitation have dyslexia

50% of successful suicides for children under the age of 15, had a learning disability
50% of the unemployed between the ages of 16 and 21 cannot read well enough to be considered functionally literate.
School dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.  

Sources:http://www.noticeability.org/#section-information , http://www.ernweb.com/educational-research-articles/depression-and-learning-disabilities/  and http://literacyprojectfoundation.org/statistics-page/

My studies and papers were all done with assistive technology I used  Voice Dream Reader  (VDR) to read my textbooks and articles and I used Dragon Dictation to dictate my discussion post and papers. Sometimes I had up to 500 pages a week to read and with Voice Dream Reader while reading the text I would make notes within the VDR Apple application and export them out for referencing in my papers and discussions. Bookshare.org allowed me to enhance my learning by downloading books such as "Confessions of a Successful CIO" or another such example "Less Medicine, More Health." It was an exhilarating 3 years/90 weeks of education, the light of this education shine so bright that the shadows of failure which have plagued me all my reading life disappeared into the glorious success of a bright future with a Masters degree from a premier university.

During my education, I had to be my own advocate to get my textbooks from the publisher directly and then hand off the information to Brandeis University who was authorized to present the textbook company with my proof of disability. The fear of the past, I could not leave in the hands of the school. I had to be my own advocate and make sure that I received the textbook in time of the course. At one point, the professor changed the textbook a week before class started, but Wiley publishing stepped up to the plate, as did my advocate at Brandeis University and we got the job done.

It is my hope my story is an inspiration to others who struggle with the unknown gift of dyslexia.