PSU to begin global dyslexia initiative

  Monday, April 1, 2019 2:00 PM
  Academics, Milestones, People and Society, News

Pittsburg, KS

PSU's Center for READing


Inspired by a former prison inmate who went on to become an Emmy-nominated actor, Pittsburg State University’s Center for READing is joining the Dyslexia Awareness Foundation to implement the most ambitious dyslexia screening and remedial reading intervention initiative to date.

The initiative will begin this spring in schools, jails, prisons, and community centers throughout the U.S. and in selected territories around the world. Coordinators say it is designed to improve literacy for children, teens, adults, and incarcerated persons, and could reduce crime and recidivism.

“Dyslexia is a neurologically-based learning disability that makes reading difficult to impossible,” said David Hurford, the founder of PSU’s Center for Research, Evaluation, and Awareness of Dyslexia. “It’s also the single-most prevalent learning disability, as approximately 1 in 5 members of the general population is dyslexic.”

According to Leland Hardy, the co-founder and director of the Dyslexia Awareness Foundation, the African-American population is disproportionately affected with dyslexia. It’s also a leading contributor when students drop out of high school and it plays a role in about half of all prison inmates being functionally illiterate — 80 to 90 percent of those inmates have dyslexia.

Its key spokesperson will be Ameer Baraka, a former prison inmate affected by dyslexia who went on to become not only an actor, but also an author, educator, and dyslexia activist. Baraka, who was 23 when he entered prison, said he ended up there because he chose crime over honest work because he couldn’t read.

The project will utilize the PSU center’s state-of-the-art evaluation, intervention, and expertise.

“At the Center for READing we are committed not only to continue to engage in basic research, but to provide the highest quality evaluation and interventions for individuals so that they can become competent readers,” Hurford said.

The Center has been part of the College of Education for 23 years.

“Our proven methods of identifying children who are at-risk of developing a reading disability, and appropriate remediation, already are being used in school systems,” said Hurford, who works with educators and parents to identify students as early as posible who are at-risk. “We’re looking forward to positively impacting the lives of potentially millions of people throughout the country and the world.”

Learn more about the Center for READing at