Texas – 2019 – HB 2847 – Prohibition of Unlicensed Dyslexia Services

State of Texas

Update: The Dyslexia Amendment has been removed from HB 2847 during the Senate Committee Hearing Process. The Senate Committee Substitute and the Conference Committee report no longer contain any provisions that would impact or change dyslexia services or licensing in Texas.

HB 3244 2847 as currently previously written would have outlawed the provision of private services for dyslexia of any kind except by persons licensed as multisensory structured language education (MSLE) therapists. We are strongly opposed to any law that would impose unprecedented state licensing requirements on providers of services for dyslexia. Fortunately these provisions were removed from the final version of the bill.

The dyslexia provisions of this bill were originally introduced as a stand-alone bill, numbered as HB 3244. However, in the face of strong opposition, that bill was never scheduled for hearing in committee and did not progress. But on April 24, 2019, the author of HB 3244 (Miller) introduced the identical provisions as a floor amendment to HB 2847 — which had passed out of Committee as a bill related to licensing of entirely different occupations (such as laser hair removal and podiatry). Because HB 2847 was not tied to regulation of dyslexia therapy, there had been no hearings conducted on the dyslexia provisions. Rather, as a floor amendment, the matter could be introduced and voted on without significant discussion or debate.

And that is exactly what happened. The Representative who had authored the failed HB 3244 (Miller) offered the same bill as an amendment, stating, “This clarifies the licensing requirements for a Dyslexia Therapist in Chapter 403 of the occupations code. It abolishes the license practitioner license.” He did not mention that the amendments created a new definition of dyslexia therapy or that it imposed new licensing requirements on providers of private services. There was no debate or discussion. The entire process of adding and voting on the amendment took about 2 minutes to complete.

Although this amendment was passed overwhelmly, Fort Worth Rep. Strickland opposed the amendment and requested a record vote. Unfortunately his opposition was not enough to prevent the maneuvering which allowed the dyslexia licensing provisions to be passed through the Texas House without the normal process of careful consideration and public hearing when a bill is assigned to and considered by a committee.

Texas already had a limited system of voluntary licensing under a law passed in 2009 which prohibited the use of the title “licensed dyslexia therapist” by unlicensed individuals, and licensing only MSLE providers. But HB 2847 would have prohibited the private provision of all forms of dyslexia intervention and remediation except by fully licensed Dyslexia Therapists, whether or not the intervention is based on MSLE. The bill would have done that by expanding the definition of “dyslexia therapy”.

Section 2 (2-b) under the proposed “Dyslexia Therapists” section of the bill defined dyslexia therapy as “the application of nonmedical principles, methods, and procedures for identifying, mitigating, or remediating dyslexia in individuals.”

Section 5 amended Section 403.101 of the state Occupations Code to provide that subject to certain exceptions, “a person may not engage in the practice of dyslexia therapy unless the person holds a license”.

Section .009 (b) provided “A person may not practice dyslexia therapy in a private practice setting, including a learning center or clinic, unless the person is a licensed dyslexia therapist.”

The provisions of the law would not have applied to teachers employed in private or public schools, so this bill would not have impacted or changed the quality of in-school services available to dyslexic children in Texas.

The effect of this bill would have been to prevent adults and families in Texas from accessing any form of private intervention or support services for dyslexia except for the one type of tutoring. That would have included services such as the following programs currently available through dedicated learning centers established in Texas:

  • Lindamood Bell Seeing Stars ®
  • Lindamood Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V ® )
  • Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing ® (LiPS ® )
  • Brain Balance (available at Brain Balance Achievement Centers)
  • LearningRx Brain Training
  • Services from Dyslexia Institutes of America

The law would also have prohibited separate programs and approaches offered by qualified private individuals or at multi-service learning centers, such as the following:

  • Davis ® Dyslexia Correction
  • Barton Reading & Spelling System
  • Phono-Graphix
  • PACE Cognitive Training

This bill would also have strictly limited access even to the type of traditional phonics-based tutoring (Orton-Gillingham / Multisensory Language Education) that was covered by the proposed licensing standard. Practitioners who have trained through various accredited programs, such as those accredited by the International Dyslexia Association or the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators would have failed to qualify for licensing, because most of those programs do not have the 700-hour practicum requirements for “Therapist” licensing under the proposed Texas law. See Texas Dyslexia Handbook, Figure 4.1. Training Requirements for Educators Providing Dyslexia Services (at page 47).

Additionally, this law would have prohibited individual tutors from offering support to students using untitled or unbranded techniques, or based on their own experience — this would include many who are retired teachers with years of experience, even as reading specialists — but without the specific, private MSLE training that has only recently been standardized.

Groups Opposed to this Bill:

Decoding Dyslexia Texas, the leading legislative advocacy group for dyslexia, was opposed to this bill. For more information, see:

11 thoughts on “Texas – 2019 – HB 2847 – Prohibition of Unlicensed Dyslexia Services”

  1. The end result will be limited access for children and affordability for parents. Homeschool kids will suffer the most.

  2. I am highly in favor of this bill. ALTA holds the very highest standards to become licensed. ALTA therapists have undergone rigorous training to become experts in the remediation of dyslexia. Isn’t this what we want for our kids? Not some former classroom teacher who doesn’t know squat about dyslexia to help dyslexics? Way too many parents and children have been given false hope from these “tutors” who aren’t highly trained. Total waste of time and money. Our dyslexics deserve better!

    • Sounds like you are merely interested in eliminating competition from anyone who doesn’t have the CALT licensing you personally have acquired. How can it help families and children to eliminate all other forms of private services in Texas, in favor of the handful of providers in major urban centers who happen to have chosen to pursue training with ALTA?

  3. I work with LearningRx, and in my experience students that come to us with a diagnosis of dyslexia have all different needs, with different cognitive skills. I hope the state of Texas looks at the research, which we would be happy to provide regarding reading problems/dyslexia and how different methods, like our one on one training improves reading skills. Please let me know how I can help this discussion. Over 60% of our clients have reading problems, average age is 12.9, and average improvement is 3.6 years in Word Attack (in a 6 month training program). Our clients with dyslexia (over 2000 in latest study) had multiple weak cognitive skills including auditory processing, long-term memory, processing speed, and working memory…… which I do not believe MSLE addressess, so if this law passes, then those with Dyslexia will be missing out.

    • Thank you for writing. We are hopeful that this proposed law will be rewritten, but are watching closely and will posts alerts if other action is needed. We agree 100% with you — there simply is no one-size-fits-all intervention, nor is there evidence to support MSLE above or instead of other approaches.

  4. Licensed Academic Language Therapists must go through a rigorous 2 year program and clock 700 hours to be eligible to take the licensing test.
    I am unaware of any other DYSLEXIA SPECIFIC training programs that are this stringent.
    How would Dyslegia propose to change the wording of this bill to preserve the integrity of MSLE training?
    I am not disputing that there is a “one size doesn’t fit all” premise regarding dyslexia remediation. I do have serious concerns as to the wording of this bill because the abolishment of licensing for dyslexia therapists, in my opinion, opens the doors for anyone to claim that he/she is trained to service dyslexic individuals (one weekend training program vs. two years of school/training).
    Back to my question, what wording changes to the bill would Dyslegia suggest in order to prevent this catastrophe?

    • First of all, why should Texas be in the business of licensing one type of dyslexia service provider and not others? No other state does. Texas instituted its voluntary licensing scheme in 2009 — it is a state with a population of 28 million, and after almost a decade, there are only about 850 licensed individuals at the “dyslexia therapist” level statewide — the number fluctuates because many who qualified for the license later allow their licenses to lapse. And most of those licensed individuals are concentrated in larger east Texas cities, like DFW & Houston. West Texas cities and cities along the southern border have very few. Laredo? none. You can search by any Texas city at https://vo.licensing.tdlr.texas.gov/datamart/searchByCityTXRAS.do to get the numbers.

      On top of that, there is no record of the Texas licensing enforcement division ever taking any sort of action against anyone, either for unlicensed practice (i.e., use of the “dyslexia therapist” title), or to enforce any sort of standard among those who are licensed. My guess is that most of the state-licensed Academic Language therapists are probably employed by schools rather than in private practice, because that’s probably where the job opportunities are based on their credentials. But there are more than a thousand school districts in Texas — so all the currently licensed practitioners couldn’t fill the need if the goal was to simply have one licensed Academic Language Therapist on staff within each district. But the law exempts schools from needing to comply.

      We think the 2009 law was a mistake — because “dyslexia therapist” is an umbrella term — if Texas does want to regulate the practice of “Academic Language Therapy” then it should say so. Or use the term “MSLE” if that is more accurate and appropriate. (The problem is that “multisensory structured language education” appears also to be a broad generic term that includes a variety of different approaches, which share some common elements but all have different training protocols — there’s a list at http://www.ldonline.org/article/6332/ — but that list comes from an article published in 1995, so there are also newer approaches that would fit).

      But to answer your question, a simple solution for the statute would be to substitute the phrase “Academic Language Therapy” for “dyslexia therapy” — and to properly define what it is, rather than to confuse that specific approach with the entire realm of ” nonmedical principles, methods, and procedures for identifying, mitigating, or remediating dyslexia.”

      If Texas is concerned about unqualified people providing dyslexia services, they could require state registration and some sort of truth-in-labeling — so that those who offer any form of tutoring would be required to list their credentials and specify the methods they use.

  5. It goes further to narrow the ability to practice privately to only those with a ALTA license – MSLEC alone would not even make the cut in this bill.

  6. Children need to be taught with multi-sensory activities that are Orton Gillingham based. Children need many different programs because they do not learn one way. Don’t limit; explore!

    • Children can have different needs at different times — and this law would also impact services available to teenagers and adult as well as kids. Some people have primarily dyseidetic-type dyslexia and need interventions targeted to that; some need services focused on fluency & comprehension or building reading speed. Some are second language learners and may need different and specialized services targeted toward their primary language— Texas has a very large Hispanic population, and may benefit from a mix of approaches including some targeted to their native language. The very broad definition of “dyslexia therapy” in this proposal would cover just about any type of intervention (“identifying, mitigating, or remediating dyslexia”) — not just reading instruction. I mean, what does “mitigate” mean?

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