Australian Federation of SPELD Associations (AUSPELD)
by Mandy Nayton, AUSPELD President
The Australian Federation of SPELD (Specific Educational Learning Difficulties) Associations represents all state and territory SPELD Associations and has a combined membership of over 10,000 schools, parents, teachers and allied health professionals.
The role of AUSPELD is to represent and support the many thousands of children and adults struggling with both learning difficulties and learning disabilities in Australia. Each state-based organization provides a range of targeted services and resources specifically designed to ensure that all students can acquire appropriate skills and experience academic success.
AUSPELD promotes an awareness and understanding of the problems and needs of children and adults with specific learning difficulties and disabilities, thereby assisting them to obtain specialized identification and intervention as early as possible. AUSPELD also promotes best-practice teaching, evidence-based intervention, and support for research within the areas of literacy and numeracy development.
The assistance provided to Australian students with developmental learning disabilities at both the federal and a state levels of government is extremely poor. To address this lack of appropriate support, AUSPELD provides a range of services including advocacy, specialist teaching, professional development, clinical services, libraries, resources, and research and development.
The demand for AUSPELD’s services continues to increase. The state branches in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia respond to well over 1,000 calls per week from community members, and to similar numbers of requests for information and support via email and website contact.
AUSPELD provides training, resources and support to thousands of teachers, administrators, and professionals working in schools and tertiary institutions throughout Australia each year.
Launch of New Website
In November 2016, AUSPELD launched a new website called Understanding Learning Difficulties: A Guide for Parents, which can be accessed online at www.uldforparents.com. The website contains a wealth of information for families, educators, allied health professionals, and others about how best to support students with learning difficulties and is based upon the popular AUSPELD hardcopy resource of the same name. The information across all pages of the website can be accessed easily using the inbuilt text-to-speech function. The strategies and programs recommended are practical and based on evidence. There are great videos across the website (and more will be added over time).
The launch of the parent website follows the success of the hardcopy parent guide and an accompanying handbook for teachers entitled “Understanding Learning Difficulties: A Practical Guide.” The teacher handbook (published in 2015) was extremely well-received by educators and policy-makers around Australia. Following its successful launch, the guide was purchased by the Australian Federal Government and converted to an online resource that is now available to every school (and every teacher) in Australia. In addition to the teacher and parent guides, AUSPELD has a range of other excellent resources available for purchase from the AUSPELD online bookshop, many of them sourced directly from IDA.
Language, Literacy and Learning Conference
In March/April 2017, the inaugural ‘Language, Literacy and Learning’ conference was held in Perth, Western Australia. The three-day conference was jointly hosted by IDA, AUSPELD, and DSF Literacy and Clinical Services (the Western Australian branch of AUSPELD). Almost 600 delegates participated in a packed program, which included keynote addresses by Australian and international speakers, breakout sessions, workshops, and symposia.
The response from delegates, speakers, and exhibitors has been overwhelmingly positive. One-third of attendees scored the conference 10 out of 10 with the remaining feedback also at a high level.
The engaging presentations by our six keynote speakers Prof. Kenn Apel, Prof. Pamela Snow, Prof. Kate Nation, Assoc. Prof. Craig Hassed, Prof. Susan Gathercole, and Dr. Shaun Hawthorne, set the tone for the conference. The importance of evidence-based practice in education was reinforced in both the keynote addresses and the concurrent sessions, which included workshops, symposia, presentations, and product showcases. Many delegates commented on the quality of the presenters and sessions:
“This was one of the highest standards of conferences I have been to. With so many excellent presenters, my only complaint was that I couldn’t be in four places at once!”
“The concurrent sessions provided good opportunities for discussion, as well as the presentation of interesting information. Thought-provoking and challenging in so many ways.”
“A great variety was on offer. It was difficult to choose!”
Planning is already underway for the second DSF Language, Literacy and Learning Conference to be held in 2019. To receive notifications about the latest developments, please register your email via the conference website (www.literacylanguageconf.com).
AUSPELD continues to work to improve teacher education on learning difficulties through the development of an online e-learning course which is designed to supplement the material found in the Understanding Learning Difficulties guide. The course will provide educators with additional information about how to better support students with learning difficulties in the classroom. The course will contain six learning modules: An introduction to learning difficulties and learning disorders; processing skills related to learning; responding to student needs at Tier 1; responding to student needs at Tier 2 and 3; supporting diverse learners with classroom accommodations; and, promoting resilience.
AUSPELD contributes to state and federal inquiries, forums, committees, and government departments on a wide range of issues related to improving literacy outcomes and increasing awareness of the needs (including identification, remediation, and accommodation) of individuals with learning disabilities.
AUSPELD is proud to be a Global Partner of the International Dyslexia Association. Please visit www.auspeld.org.au for further information about AUSPELD and the services that are available to individuals with learning difficulties and learning disabilities in Australia.
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