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Newsletter of the
Southwest Branch of IDA
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We hope you have enjoyed viewing the thirteen sessions of Dyslexia Southwest 2022. If you haven't viewed all thirteen sessions or you want to watch a particular session again, you have until April 30 to access the pre-recorded videos. We are grateful to the many speakers who shared their expertise and resources with us. Look for a general survey in your email to provide us with feedback regarding viewing access, the platform, and future topics. We welcome your feedback as we begin to plan for next year.

Don't forget to print your CEUs!

We greatly appreciate these sponsors:
Is Structured Literacy Just Phonics?
Has anyone ever asked you, “Isn’t Structured Literacy just phonics?”  
Phonics is a critical element of Structured Literacy, but it isn’t the only element.  
Structured Literacy addresses:
Phonological Awareness
Orthography including Phonics and Syllable Instruction
It is important to capture the entirety of Structured Literacy carefully considering each essential ingredient. While some of these elements are critical for word recognition, such as phonological awareness, phonics, and syllable instruction, others greatly impact language comprehension.
Syntax encompasses the order of words to shape context; therefore, understanding the use of a word within context is critical to deepening understanding.

Semantics captures the meaning of a word based on its use within the sentence and, because words may possess multiple meanings, semantics provides the precise meaning of a word in the specific context.

Morphology, understanding the meaningful parts of words such as roots and affixes, is helpful in expanding vocabulary because a single morpheme may be a building block in multiple words. When students recognize a familiar morpheme within an unfamiliar word, they can begin to deduce the meaning of the unknown word. Morphology plays an important role not only in language comprehension, but also in word recognition.  

So then, does vocabulary have a place in Structured Literacy? The answer is an emphatic YES. Vocabulary instruction is addressed both intentionally and incidentally, both explicitly or implicitly.

How should intentional and explicit vocabulary instruction be addressed within a structured literacy approach? To answer this question, look to the layers of language and the elements of Structured Literacy listed above.

Phonology - Start by saying the word and having students repeat the word. Draw attention to the number of syllables and which syllable is stressed. If needed, provide scaffolds such as felt squares to help students conceptualize the number of syllables. Be sure to provide extensive opportunities for students to hear and say the target word.

Orthography - Write the word for students and have students write the word as well. Use the syllable breaks to scaffold spelling and discuss the morphology as it may impact the spelling. For example, in the word century, the first syllable is /sen/, but the first morpheme is cent. Build students’ awareness that cent means one hundred, and ure is a suffix forming a noun as in picture and nature. When we transition from the /t/ to /y/ sound, we often create a /ch/ sound due to coarticulation. Students will also need to know that the suffix y represents a long e sound and forms an adjective.  
According to, although a century originally referred to 100 of anything, over time it came to represent 100 years.

Syntax - Explain the function (part of speech) of the word and where students are likely to encounter it in relation to other words within a sentence.

Semantics - Provide multiple meanings of the word and discuss how context can shape meaning. Use the word in multiple contexts. Ask yes or no questions of students using the word. Such as, “If I live to be a century old, will I likely play football every day?” or “Does it take a century to do your homework?”  

Morphology - Again, morphology will help extend students' understanding of the building blocks that develop the meaning of the word and often morphology may impact spelling.  

Throughout the introduction of a new term, help draw students’ attention to the layers of language within vocabulary and encourage their frequent use of the word. The more students understand about a word, what it looks like, what it sounds like, and the depth of its meaning, the better equipped they will be to fluently recognize and understand the word within text and to incorporate it into their own lexicon.  

The Spring-Summer Series: Parent Support Meetings are underway! The series features topics of interest identified through community input at the February kickoff event. As a community forum, these discussions focus on sharing related resources and information, and learning from one another's experiences. Parents and caregivers, reserve your spot today!

  • May 9, 5:30-6:30 MST–*Supporting learning and enrichment during the summer: Forum of favorite books and resources

  • Sept. 12, 5:30-6:30 MST–*Supporting kids’ social-emotional development and skills, with ideas and resources regarding anxious/depressive phases

Participants must register for this free series to receive the Zoom meeting link: 

$WIDA $cholarship Opportunities

Students: IDA-SW is currently accepting applications for post-secondary scholarships. We will be awarding multiple $1,000 scholarships to undergraduate or graduate students who are diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability (Dyslexia), hold permanent residence in New Mexico or El Paso, and are or will be attending an accredited 2-year or 4-year post-secondary institution OR Career-Technical course of study leading to a certificate or an Associate Degree.

Applications must be received by May 1, 2022.
Students, for more information please visit this link.

Teachers: IDA-SW is also happy to announce that we have already awarded 4 teacher scholarships in 2022. IDA-SW annually awards scholarships to teachers who complete training in a Multisensory Structured Language Program/Dyslexia Specialist Program. Teachers can now qualify for up to $2000* in scholarship monies. We are continuing to accept these applications, so get yours in today!

Teachers please visit this link to apply for the scholarship.

*Award amounts will be based on the cost of the selected training program.
Congratulations to Sandra Dillon
Recently the ALTA Board of Directors recognized Sandra Dillon as an Honorary Member. Sandra Dillon, MA, CALT-QI, is Founder and Director Emerita of the Multisensory Language Training Institute of New Mexico. MLTI-NM offers accredited training for educators working to support students with dyslexia utilizing Sounds in Syllables, Multisensory Structured Language Therapy. Sandra worked as an educator for Albuquerque Public Schools for over 25 years and was mentored by Dr. Jane Blumenfeld, the first special education teacher for APS and later the Coordinator of Special Education in APS. Dr. Blumenfeld's support and encouragement of Sandra led her to continually seek and expand her knowledge and skills by studying Alphabetic Phonics in Dallas beginning in 1976 and later working with Beth Slingerland and the Lindamoods. Sandra utilized this knowledge and experience to author and implement Sounds in Syllables in public and private settings for over 35 years. She served as the director of Albuquerque Public Schools' Language Clinic for students with dyslexia in middle and high school utilizing Sounds in Syllables. Sandra was on the steering committee that began meeting in 1984 to form the New Mexico Branch of The Orton Dyslexia Society which later became the Southwest branch of the International Dyslexia Association (SWIDA).

Thank you for your service, Sandra!

 Pictured above is Sandra Dillon receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from SWIDA in 2020 presented by Erin Brown.
Whether you are in a school or private setting or just trying to help a family member with a learning disability, access to accommodations and assistive technology can be both a wonderful gift and a daunting task. The idea of what assistive technology can contribute and the access it can provide for a learner is indispensable. The possibilities are also vast…immense…extensive…you get the idea. So, we are going to focus on one area or tool at a time. Even within an area, there are usually multiple tools or approaches depending on the device a student has or their needs. 
The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) recently recommended that districts use federal pandemic relief funds to supply families with the tools needed to close the digital divide. In many cases, this included Chromebooks that supported a 1:1 learning initiative. EdWeek Market Brief reported in 2020, Chromebooks accounted for 40 million of the devices in educational settings. If you find yourself, a student, or a client working with a Chromebook, using these steps to obtain and utilize the Accessibility features will make learning and creating content less complicated. 
The information provided was acquired from the AT4Kid- the Assistive Technology Center at Little Tennessee Valley Educational Cooperative in Loudon, Tennessee. 
To enable accessibility features, click on the time in the bottom right corner of your screen and a menu will pop up. If you don’t see the accessibility icon, you’ll need to enable it. In order to do this, click on the gear icon for settings. Now that you are in the settings, navigate to the “advanced” menu on the left-hand side and then select “accessibility.” Toggle accessibility features to the “on” position. Keep in mind that some school IT departments might have accessibility features locked down and you’ll need to contact them to make them available.
Here are two important features to start off your learner: 
Select and Speak - Hear text read aloud
Press and hold the Search key, then select content to be read aloud, highlight the text and press the Search key + s. To pause or stop the speech press the Ctrl or the Search key. (On a touchscreen, tap and select to speak.) 
Words are highlighted as they are spoken. In ‘Accessibility’ and ‘Manage Accessibility Features’ you can change the highlight color or turn it off.
Dictation - dictate text instead of typing
Tap/click where you want to type, select the ‘Microphone’ icon or press the Search key + d to activate Dictation.  
You can use Dictation to:
ask questions and do searches in Google Chrome, 
dictate text in Google Docs, emails and other text fields. However, if you pause for two seconds, the microphone turns off. This isn’t the best option if you are trying to compose an essay and frequently needing to pause and think. For long-form dictation, it is better to use the Google Docs built-in Voice Typing. This feature can be found under the tools menu within Google Docs and can only be used within that program. *Learn more here- Voice typing in Google Docs and Using Voice Commands in Google Text to Speech
For more information on Chromebook Accessibility, e.g., keyboard shortcuts, the on-screen keyboard, audio and captions visit: or Google Chrome: Accessibility Features or download the ChromeBook Apps and Extensions for Learners with Dyslexia infographic from CALL Scotland: Chromebook Accessibility+Tools Handout.pdf
Please use the button above or this link to find the membership level right for you: Membership Levels and FAQ

Join IDA/SWIDA today and become a part of our global community of individuals and organizations committed to supporting individuals with dyslexia and related reading differences. 

Benefits of membership include:
  • Connection to our community of members in all 50 U.S. states and 50 countries
  • Affiliation with your local IDA Branch- Southwest Branch of IDA (SWIDA)
  • Discounts on IDA's annual DyslexiaCon and Branch events
  • Access to renowned publications
  • Member rates for IDA TV and ShopIDA
  • ...and more!
Members! Have you signed up for the IDA Member Group? You can access it in the link below! View webinars that no one else has access to and make contact with other advocates, teachers and parents!

Please also follow IDA Instagram as there are daily posts about webinars and giveaways! 
Southwest Branch of The International Dyslexia Association (SWIDA)
PO Box 14190 Albuquerque, NM 87191