Speechify Policy Platform
Updated August 3, 2017
At Speechify, we believe that access to a world-class education is a universal human right. Unfortunately, hundreds of millions of children across the globe can’t access this right because they have learning differences – like Dyslexia and ADHD – that go undiagnosed. If you’re a child in a school that doesn’t train teachers to spot learning differences or offer professionals to diagnose them, you’re pretty much out of luck. And that’s a lot of children. 20% of all kids have dyslexia. This is over 15 million dyslexic students in the United States.
Even if a child is diagnosed, they must also have access to resources to overcome learning differences . This includes specialized teachers and world-class tools to aid their education. The downstream consequences of not having adequate resources are tragic. They may include reduced literacy, student success, and limited economic mobility.
We’re introducing the Speechify policy platform because we believe that technology alone will not fulfill the promise of education as a universal human right. We need systemic change. This can only be achieved if advocates, organizations, and families come together to protect this right in our legislatures and courts.
The three pillars of the Speechify policy platform:
- Every school must require annual dyslexic screenings for every child in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. See New York Senate Bill S7418 for an example of legislation we support. The National Center on Improving Literacy has an excellent repository of legislation across the United States..
- Every teacher must be trained to spot initial learning differences – like dyslexia – and every K-12 school and university must provide access to trained professionals to help students overcome these differences throughout their entire educational career. These services may consist of small group instruction in multi-sensory sequential phonics, or other widely accepted interventions.
- Every student must have access to research-backed assistive technology and accommodations to overcome their learning differences. These include note taking tools and extra time on all tests. See the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity for more examples.
Why are we doing this?
First, access to a world-class education, de-stigmatizing learning differences, and guaranteeing an equal playing field are core to our mission. Speechify was never supposed to be a company. It started as a product we hacked together for ourselves because we needed it for our own learning differences. In the near term, we can maximize our impact by delivering our product to the market. But in the long run, we hope to have an even greater impact by changing the way our society thinks about learning differences and comes together to address them.
Second, we believe we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness around dyslexia and other learning differences, working with advocates in our field. Every effective advocacy campaign requires amplifying individual stories. We’re grateful to have direct access to one of the largest, most concentrated, and fastest growing communities of people with learning differences in the world: Speechify users. Sharing their stories is our responsibility. We’ve already invested millions of dollars into this effort and will continue to invest our time, money, and energy.
And third, our users with learning differences demand more from us than a product. They want to be heard, to be seen – by their schools, their governments, and their neighbors. Our job is to give them what they want. Advancing policies that are good for them is good for our business.
This policy platform is our “bat signal.” If you’re a legislator introducing a new bill, a school board member fighting for more funding, an academic researcher studying learning differences, or a nonprofit director advocating for students’ rights, please reach out. We’d love to support you with our voice, data, stories, and anyway else.
We look forward to sharing updates on our progress as we engage public officials, raise awareness in the general public, and find new ways to push this policy platform forward.
– Cliff Weitzman