A week or so ago I wrote an article in the local newspaper which inadvertently hurt the feeings of a very nice lady who turned out to be director of the local chapter of Recording for the Blind and Dyslectic. I was complaining about the science-education gap which prevents teachers from using information available from neurology labs to teach a dyslectic person to read normally. The science-education gap I referred to was the gap beween neurology and education.
Unfortunately when the lady thought, “science-education gap”, she was thinking about a technology-education gap, which, as my mother used to say, is a gray horse of another color. She pointed out that Recording for the Blind has an impressive array of hi-fi gadgets that could record and play back thousands of pages of script, and innumerable tunes and was freely available. In addition, the volunteers who do the recording will cheerfully record textbooks and the like if someone needs them.
They are wonderful people. If you are blind and can’t get your education through your eyes, they will enable you to get it through your ears.
But that isn’t what dyslectics need. They need to learn to read for themselves so they don’t have to be read to. Their eyeballs and eardrums are just like everybody else’s. But if you can’t read for whatever reason, you are missing a lot more in life than just what is in textbooks. You can’t read the thank you note from Grandma. You can’t read birthday cards, street signs, comic strips, stories to your kids, ingredients on food packages, directions on (whatever), weather reports, invitations, or Dear Abby. It isn’t even safe if you can’t read the fine print on something you are being talked into.
The ability to read comfortably can be taught to a dyslectic person by morphing knowledge gleaned from neuro labs into certain teaching techniques . Reading from Scratch, as my faithful readers know, is based on these techniques, and it succeeds in producing normal readers because what it bridges is not the technology-education gap, but the neurology-education gap. It enables a person to read whatever he wants rather than being restricted to what others read to him.
I wish educators were as up-to-date on what’s new in neurology as the Recording for the Blind people are about the latest gizmos in technology. But they’re not. In fact, they are 32 years behind.