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Note from our President

Welcome to the International Dyslexia Association of Northern California. We are committed to providing you with information about dyslexia through our website resources. IDA Northern California is notable for our powerful dyslexia simulation, Experience Dyslexia®. This simulation has led to greater awareness of dyslexia across the country and around the world. Please browse our website to learn more!
Mary Cancelmo
International Dyslexia Association –
Northern California (IDA NorCal


IDA Mourns the Passing of Orton-Gillingham Icon Karen Leopold
by Nancy Redding, M. Ed.

Karen Leopold, IDA regional representative for the Pacific Region, past president of IDA-Rocky Mountain,  and Fellow in the Orton Gillingham Academy, passed away suddenly on February 1.

Karen was a giant among Orton-Gillingham practitioners, known to many people in IDA-NorCal.  Her lasting legacy will be in the many OG practitioners that she trained in the Western United States, and her ability to connect people to form lasting bonds.

Karen’s interest and passion for students with dyslexia began, as it has for many others, as the mother of a dyslexic child.  After her own training, she taught at the Kildonan School in New York for many years and collaborated with Diana Hanbury King on numerous articles and books.  She began training Orton-Gillingham teachers while at Kildonan.  When her husband retired from his medical practice, they made a move to Colorado, where eventually both their son and daughter followed.  Karen made it her personal goal to bring more Orton-Gillingham awareness and training to the Western United States.  She proceeded in a relentless manner, conducting trainings, speaking at conferences, and bringing her expertise to the Rocky Mountain Branch of IDA.   She continued to oversee many teachers at various levels of certification in the Orton-Gillingham Academy throughout her life, always guiding with a firm, yet welcoming hand.

The widely shared sense of personal and professional loss is captured by one of Karen’s mentees, Grace Sharma, M.S. Ed., who posted this heartfelt tribute on her Facebook page.

Governor Newsom Accepts NorCal IDA’s 2020 Leadership Award

In this uplifting, deeply personal video message, IDA NorCal’s 2021 dyslexia achievement honoree, Governor Gavin Newsom, looks back on how evaluations described him when he was a young boy struggling in school. He notes that terms like “lacked confidence,” “gave up easily” and “seemed overwhelmed” would not have predicted a path to the governor’s office.  Newsom stresses the importance of caring, informed teachers and parents in supporting students like him and thanks the IDA community for nurturing the strengths of students with learning differences.   Newsom was honored for his leadership on behalf of individuals with dyslexia at the IDA NorCal annual membership meeting, held virtually on January 23, 2021.


IDA Dyslexia Handbook: What Every Family Should Know

IDA Dyslexia Handbook CoverIn addition to offering valuable information about dyslexia and its characteristics, this handbook provides information on assessments, effective teaching approaches, self-advocacy ideas, and a vast array of resources.

Further, the handbook contains information that will be useful throughout a child’s life, from elementary school through college. The degree of difficulty a child with dyslexia has with reading, spelling, and/or speaking varies from person to person due to inherited differences in brain development, as well as the type of teaching the child receives.

It is crucial to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of dyslexia so that a child can be evaluated early and obtain the appropriate instruction and accommodations he or she needs to succeed in school.

We encourage you to share this handbook. The more families we can inform, the more children we can help!

Download the handbook here!

Helpful Resources for Home Teaching

IDA NorCal sees the profound impact COVID-19 (coronavirus) is having on our global educational community. In particular, we recognize the challenges and uncertainties families of dyslexic students may be facing because of California school closures. We also realize the amount of on-line resources being offered to help support at-home learning may feel overwhelming, particularly to parents and caregivers of students with dyslexia. We are therefore sharing a link to Helpful Resources for Home Teaching, Learning and Fun. We believe this list developed by Literacy How, includes expert resources and ideas for appropriate at-home learning.   Stay safe and be well.

  • Dyslexia is the most common learning disability with 15-20% of the population showing symptoms of dyslexia. Learn More

  • It is a language-based learning disability and is not related to intelligence– plenty of very bright people have dyslexia.
  • There are many successful people with dyslexia such as Henry Winkler, Caitlyn Jenner (previously known as Bruce Jenner), Whoopi Goldberg and Charles Schwab.
  • IDA has established standards for teachers of reading. These research-based standards are helpful for all and critical for students with dyslexia.

Black Lives Matter

IDA NorCal believes that learning to read is a civil right. We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and pledge to work towards erasing racial disparities that impede the quality of literacy instruction our children deserve. We are committed to advocating for all students, especially those who have dyslexia. until everyone can read. IDA NorCal will do more to contribute to a community where racism has no place and where Black lives, education and opportunities matter. #Blacklivesmatter #Untileveryonecanread

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