International Dyslexia Association

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International Dyslexia Association

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is a non-profit education and advocacy organization dedicated to issues surrounding dyslexia. It is based in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.[1]

The International Dyslexia Association serves individuals with dyslexia, their families, and professionals in the field. It has 9,000 members [2] and it operates with more than 40 branches [3] throughout the United States and Canada, and has global partners in twenty-one countries.[4] IDA has an all-volunteer Board of Directors.

The IDA provides information about dyslexia on its website, publishes a peer-reviewed scientific journal (Annals of Dyslexia), publishes newsletter updates to members; provides referral services to individuals and professionals; advocates for the rights of individuals with dyslexia through the legal and Federal legislative systems. IDA is working to match increasing demand for teacher training and teacher preparation aligned with the IDA Knowledge & Practice standards. The IDA provides peer reviewed Fact Sheets [5] and access to regional experts that together help support grassroots state and regional educational and advocacy efforts.

Mission Statement[edit]

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is an international organization that concerns itself with the complex issues of dyslexia. The IDA membership consists of a variety of professionals in partnership with dyslexics and their families and all others interested in The Association’s mission.

We believe that all individuals have the right to achieve their potential, that individual learning abilities can be strengthened and that social, educational and cultural barriers to language acquisition and use must be removed.

The IDA actively promotes effective teaching approaches and related clinical educational intervention strategies for dyslexics. We support and encourage interdisciplinary research. We facilitate the exploration of the causes and early identification of dyslexia and are committed to the responsible and wide dissemination of research based knowledge.[6]


1920 – 1949: Foundation of Understanding & Birth of the Organization - [7] The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is the oldest organization dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia.[8]

The organization provides information and services to address the full scope of dyslexia and related reading and writing challenges. The IDA was born in the 1920s with direct roots to Dr. Samuel T. Orton’s pioneering studies in the field of reading research and multisensory teaching. In 1949, after Dr. Orton’s death, June Orton, Dr. Orton’s wife and colleague, formalized the Orton Society to continue this important work, train teachers and publish instructional materials.[9]

During the postwar period, the Progressive Education movement gained increasing influence and began to shape educators’ views on the nature of reading instruction. As the debates intensified, the IDA adopted an ideologically neutral stance, preferring to focus instead, on research. The public debate reached a heightened pitch in 1955 when Rudolf Flesch published, Why Johnny Can’t Read and What You Can Do About It, a critique of the then popular practice of teaching reading by sight, otherwise known as the “look-say” method.[10]

In 1961 the Carnegie Corporation of New York called on renowned researcher, IDA standard bearer, and Samuel T. Orton Award winner, Dr. Jeanne Chall, Director of the Reading Laboratory and Professor of Education at Harvard University, to review the controversy. In her landmark book, Learning to Read: The Great Debate, published in 1967, Chall found methodology rather than ideology was of paramount importance, especially for children of lower socioeconomic status. As Dr. Orton and Anna Gillingham described many years earlier, for a beginning reader, knowledge of letters and sounds had more influence on reading achievement than the child’s tested mental ability or IQ.[11]

1980 – 1999: Research, Ideological Neutrality, IDA’s Definition of Dyslexia - In 1982, The Orton Society changed its name to The Orton Dyslexia Society, which reflected the growing acceptance of the term “dyslexia.” Respected neurologist, professor, and IDA board member Norman Geschwind, MD, published ”Why Orton was Right,” in the 1982 Annals of Dyslexia, Vol. XXXII; in addition to reminding his readers of all the ways Dr. Orton was right, he suggested there may be possible advantages to dyslexia. Dr. Geschwind’s strong interest in the relationship between brain anatomy and behavior was a major force leading to the IDA’s Neuroanatomy Study.[12]

Remaining true to its research-based origins, the IDA helped center national dialog while purposefully avoiding firebrand rhetoric. The IDA’s focus remained, as it always was, on supporting individuals with dyslexia. Meanwhile, in the educational community, the debate sparked by Flesch in 1955 led to what the popular press called the “Reading Wars,” and, in turn, the Whole Language movement in the 1980s. During this period, IDA standard bearers continued to provide a balanced scientific backdrop for a national dialog.

Definition Consensus Project - G. Emerson Dickman and G. Reid Lyon, PhD - In 1994, G. Emerson Dickman (IDA), lead the Definition Consensus Project, with Reid Lyon (NICHD) and William Ellis (NCLD). Together, three organizations with the support of important thought-leaders developed the first widely accepted definition of dyslexia. To highlight this milestone, the organization was renamed The International Dyslexia Association 1997.

In 2000, the National Reading Panel issued a landmark report focusing on the critical years of kindergarten through third grade reading skills. After reviewing more than 100,000 reading research studies that met demanding criteria, the panel analyzed the results of these studies and identified five skills critical for all beginning readers: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The panel also suggested implications for classroom instruction and proven strategies for teaching these skills. The results of this study aligned with decades of IDA evidence-based research.[13]

The definition of dyslexia continues to evolve to reflect knowledge born out of advanced brain research. In 2002, with sponsorship from the NICHD and the IDA, G. Emerson Dickman again convened a consensus group to update and expand the IDA’s 1994 definition. This definition currently serves as the foundation of state laws.[14]

Samuel Torrey Orton Award[edit]

The Samuel Torrey Orton Award is The International Dyslexia Association’s highest honor. The Award recognizes a person or persons or who have: made a vital contribution to our scientific understanding of dyslexia, or significantly enhanced and advanced our capacity to successfully intervene and assist people with dyslexia, or expanded national and international awareness of dyslexia, or demonstrated unusual competence and dedication in service to people with dyslexia.

Recipients of the Samuel Torrey Orton Award:[15]

  • 2014 Kate Cain
  • 2013 Louisa Moats
  • 2012 Sally & Bennett Shaywitz
  • 2011 Maryanne Wolf
  • 2010 Marilyn Jager Adams
  • 2009 Susan Brady & Hollis Scarborough
  • 2008 Hugh W. Catts
  • 2007 Uta Frith
  • 2006 Joseph Torgesen
  • 2005 Margaret Snowling
  • 2004 Martha Bridge Denckla
  • 2003 Jack M. Fletcher
  • 2002 Bruce F. Pennington
  • 2001 Gordon F. Sherman & Disability Rights Advocates
  • 2000 G. Reid Lyon
  • 1999 Howard G. Gardner
  • 1998 Priscilla L. Vail
  • 1997 C. Wilson Anderson, Jr.
  • 1996 Jeanne S. Chall
  • 1995 Jeanette Jansky
  • 1994 Rosa Hagin
  • 1993 Lucia R. Karnes
  • 1992 Sylvia O. Richardson
  • 1991 Dorothy B. Whitehead & Carolyn and Carl Kline
  • 1990 Diana H. King
  • 1989 Regina Cicci
  • 1988 William Ellis & Isabelle Liberman
  • 1987 Lucius Waites & Alice Gardside
  • 1986 Che Kan Leong & John Bigelow
  • 1985 Alice Koontz & Norman Geschwind-(posthumously)
  • 1984 Robert G. Hall
  • 1983 Eleanor T. Hall
  • 1982 Drake D. Duane
  • 1981 Arthur Benton
  • 1980 Helene Durbrow & Leon Eisenberg
  • 1979 J. Roswell Gallagher
  • 1978 Paula D. Rome
  • 1977 Aylett R. Cox
  • 1976 Roger E. Saunders
  • 1975 Richard Masland
  • 1974 Macdonald Critchley
  • 1973 Sally Child
  • 1972 Beth Slingerland
  • 1971 Margaret Byrd Rawson
  • 1970 Lloyd J. Thompson
  • 1969 June Lyday Orton
  • 1968 Katrina deHirsh
  • 1967 Edwin Cole
  • 1966 Lauretta Bender


  1. ^ International Dyslexia Association, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, USA.
  2. ^ "International Dyslexia Association financial reports". IDA. 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "International Dyslexia Association branches". IDA. 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "International Dyslexia Association partners". IDA. 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "International Dyslexia Association Fact Sheets". IDA. 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "International Dyslexia Association Mission Statement". IDA. 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "History of the International Dyslexia Association". IDA. 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Beil, Laura (1996). "Conquering Dyslexia". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Henry Ph.D., Marcia C.; Brickley, Susan (1999). Dyslexia Samuel T. Orton and His Legacy. The International Dyslexia Association. ISBN 0-89214-020-8. 
  10. ^ Flesch, Rudolf (1955). Why Johnny can't read: And what you can do about it. New York: Harper. 
  11. ^ Chall, Jeanne Sternlicht (1983). Learning to read: The great debate. McGraw-Hill. 
  12. ^ Geschwind, Norman (1982). "Why Orton was right". Annals of Dyslexia. 
  13. ^ National Reading Panel (US), National Institute of Child Health, and Human Development (US). Report of the national reading panel: Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: Reports of the subgroups. (Report). National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health. 2000. 
  14. ^ "New Jersey Legislature Senate No. 2439". 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "Orton Award". 

External links[edit]