Texas – 2019 – HB 3244 – Prohibition of Unlicensed Dyslexia Services

State of Texas

HB 3244 as currently written would outlaw 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 this law as presently worded.

Texas already has a system of licensing in place, and under a law passed in 2009 prohibited the use of the title “licensed dyslexia therapist” by unlicensed individuals, and licensing only MSLE providers. This law would go further by prohibiting 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 does this by expanding the definition of “dyslexia therapy”.

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

Section 5 amends 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 9 (b) provides “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 do not apply to teachers employed in private or public schools, so this bill would do not impact or change the quality of in-school services available to dyslexic children in Texas.

The effect of this bill would be 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. This would include 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 prohibit 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

Additionally, this law would prohibit 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 MSLE training that has only recently been standardized.

Action Alert: This bill is currently pending in the Texas House Committee on Public Education. You can click the link for a list of all committee members. If you live in Texas, please call or write your representatives to register your feelings about this bill.

6 thoughts on “Texas – 2019 – HB 3244 – Prohibition of Unlicensed Dyslexia Services”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

Leave a Comment