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by Zahavit Paz, CEO,  LD Resources Foundation Action

Dr. Rosa A. Hagin was an educational psychologist who worked as a research professor of psychology at New York University School of Medicine. Her area of expertise was in the neuropsychological core of reading. She also taught at Trenton State College and Fordham University.  She did research and taught educators about effective tools for early child intervention, how to identify young students with learning disabilities (LD), and how to treat them early in their academic careers. Among her published work was a ground-breaking book,  “Disorders of Learning in Childhood” (Archie A. Silver& Rosa A. Hagin), which provides a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to understanding and diagnosing learning disabilities in children (https://www.amazon.com/Disorders-Learning-Childhood-Archie-Silver/dp/0471392596).

I knew Rosa Hagin as a mentor, teacher, and advocate for children and adults with learning disabilities.When I was diagnosed with learning disabilities & ADHD as an adult, I was told I would have a difficult road ahead of me to earn my graduate degree. Some professors actually tried to discourage me from getting an advanced degree. I found out about Dr.Hagin and that she was an expert in adult learning disabilities. She lived in Manhattan at the time, and I called her to set up an appointment.  To my surprise, she answered the phone herself.  I visited her home office the same week.  She gave me a lot of encouragement and became my mentor for a short while.  Her effect on me has lasted through to today. She encouraged me to be a tenacious learning-disabled student.  When I told her I wanted to start a non-profit organization to helps others with learning disabilities, she told me it would be hard but I could do it. And I did! In 2001, I co-founded LD Resources Foundation Action(LDRFA.org).

You might have heard about the Bartlett case (Bartlett v. New York State Bd. of Law Examiners, 970 F.Supp. 1094 (S.D.N.Y. 1997) ), a landmark case decided in New York City in 1997 by theU.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, presided over by Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Joanne Simon was the attorney representing a law school graduate with dyslexia, who was eventually allowed special accommodation to take the bar exam in New York State.  Dr. Rosa Hagin was an expert witness in that case.

Since her success in the Bartlett case, Joanne Simon, Esq. has spent many years in the legal profession working to provide equal access to students and adults with learning disabilities.  She has served as a member of the advisory board of LDRFA, and is presently the New York Assembly member representing District 52 (Brooklyn). On June 21, 2017 Assembly member Simon and New York State Senator Martin Golden announced the unanimous, bipartisan passage of Dyslexia Bill A8262/S6581.

For decades, school districts in New York believed that schools were not allowed to use the word “dyslexia” in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), but could use only the broad classification “Learning Disability” from the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). However, federal regulations contain no such restriction and no similar restriction existed in connection with other IDEA disability classifications; schools freely named specific visual or mobility impairments, such as macular degeneration, or muscular dystrophy, or cerebral palsy. While the U.S. Department of Education has issued regulatory guidance clarifying the ability to use this term, this has still been an area of confusion.This bill instructs the New York State Department of Education to develop a guidance memorandum for schools consistent with the federal requirements and inform schools that they may include the names of specific learning disorders, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia in IEPs. This will in turn help schools provide targeted language-based interventions and help more students learn to read and be successful students.  (http://nyassembly.gov/mem/Jo-Anne-Simon/story/75971/) .

Dr. Isabella Reichel, Ed.D., SPL-A, CCC, who is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologist, as well as a board member and advisor to LDRF, acknowledges Dr. Hagin’s influence in mentoring and guiding her in her career.

It’s no coincidence that Dr. Hagin was a mentor to the three of us. We have been profoundly influenced by her scholarship and by knowing her as an advocate for people with learning disabilities.  Ms. Simon, Dr. Reichel and I have made it our priority to champion people with learning disabilities, through our own careers as well as through our work with LD Resources Foundation Action.
by Zahavit Paz, Foundr of LDRFA.org.