ISAW 2015 was a raging success, with participation from 6 continents and thousands of people! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to help spread the word about Irlen Syndrome by planning and executing events, activities, and opportunities to get involved all over the world. Thank you to all the fierce Irlen advocates, parents, children, educators, and healthcare providers who spoke about Irlen to anyone willing to listen, who shared information, personal experiences, and resources with the general public to help them learn more! You all helped make ISAW 2015 the best awareness week on record, and we look forward to what next year can bring. Below is a small summary of some of the things that took place during ISAW 2015 around the world.
The Irlen Syndrome Foundation‘s Irlen Infographic went viral! It was seen by more than 25,000 people in just a matter of days. If you missed it, make sure you have a look. (Click image to view)
We Turned Out The Lights in 30 countries and 6 continents! Office buildings, classrooms, and homes went dark in support of people with Irlen Syndrome, and our heatmap shows you where people were when the turned out the lights. (Click image to view)
Lucy Lawless, who was “Xena: Warrior Princess” which ran for 134 episodes from 1995 to 2001, is a loyal Irlen supporter. We would like to send a very special thank you to Lucy for her multiple posts about the Irlen Method and her personal experience on Twitter. Her Twitter postings created many retweets, spreading the word about Irlen during Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week.
We would also like to thank Paddy Considine, English actor, film director, screenwriter, and musician for his tweets about Irlen during Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week. Paddy has been a loyal advocate for the Irlen Method, sharing his story about his changes wearing his Irlen Spectral Filters.
The Irlen Institute was very busy during Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week. The Irlen Institute started Awareness Week by collaborating with Barnes and Noble during their local educator appreciation day by presenting and signing books. The event was publicized to local educators, and over 100 educators joined Helen Irlen and the Irlen Syndrome Foundation to learn about how Irlen Syndrome impacts students and classrooms.
The Mayor of Long Beach presented a proclamation to the Irlen Syndrome Foundation on Monday. The proclamation recognizes International Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week which highlights the importance and ease of correctly identifying and addressing Irlen Syndrome.
On Wednesday Helen Irlen attended an evening meeting at the Amen Clinic and introduced a new self-test to the doctors, psychologists, and allied health professionals gathered. The new self-test is an important step in educating psychiatrists, psychologists, and other health professionals that correct identification and correction using Irlen Spectral Filters is helpful to many presently being diagnosed with anxiety disorder, depression, and other related conditions.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Helen manned a booth at the Bulletproof Conference. The conference was bigger and better than last year, attracting biohackers from around the world who are looking for ways to improve their physical and mental performance. Irlen Spectral Filters are able to make your brain the best it can be while unlocking your true potential and upgrading your performance. The booth attracted so much interest that we ended up doing mini-screenings for 200 adults during the three days. This is not just a wonderful conference but also an exciting venue for Irlen.
Sandy Tosta left Helen at Bulletproof to spend the weekend at Cornell University to discuss collaborative research with Cornell neuroscientists who have expressed an interest in looking at the brains of military personnel with TBIs.
Mississippi, USA: From Sherry Ponder, PhD, Irlen Screener in Mississippi: “Hi ya’ll, Happy Irlen Awareness Week!!! I am proud to send the Governor’s Proclamation declaring this week Irlen Awareness Week in the State of Mississippi. And First Lady and the Governor send their best regards to Helen. Gov. Bryant will be speaking on Friday at a Dyslexia Conference in Jackson and will include Irlen Syndrome and the proclamation in his remarks. I am presenting at the ADHD conference in Hattiesburg. I am doing the Bay/Waveland Schools Irlen Study presentation done at the Irlen International Conference. I will also be sharing progress this year on our training nine screeners in August in our schools. Those nine are your first toward the 100 goal. Things are getting brighter here in Mississippi during Irlen Awareness Week!!!!”
California, USA: The Beta Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma (DKG), whose membership consists of women educators for excellence in education, had a fund raiser to benefit children in Southern California who have learning disabilities caused by visual-perceptual problems. The money will be used by Delta Kappa Gamma to provide funding for testing and colored overlays and Irlen Spectral Filters. As an Irlen Awareness Week activity, all money raised was matched by Helen Irlen.
Alberta, Canada: From Nola Stigings, Irlen Director in Alberta: “We kicked off Irlen Awareness week with Irlen screener training all weekend – four new enthusiastic screeners out in the world today sharing the news in their communities. Tomorrow we have a group meeting with the Mayor of the city of Red Deer to see the ISAW proclamation signed. Also, the Mayor of the city of Medicine Hat is signing a proclamation tomorrow. I have several of my clients presenting the ‘Color is In’ powerpoint in their schools this week. We have several ‘free mini-screening’ sessions scheduled throughout the week across Central and Southern Alberta.”
Egypt: Irlen Director Rasha Anwar had a very busy 10 days during Awareness Week, which included a run down the Nile river, and being featured on multiple TV shows, but the major event was their second Irlen Syndrome awareness conference titled “Irlen Method – A Part of an Integrated System for a Better Life”. It was a great success in all aspects, very professional speakers, so interested and interactive education and special needs specialized audience, and fruitful outcomes with synergy potential between all parties. Keynote speakers were professors in pediatric neurology, pediatric ophthalmology, audiology, and special education. The conference was hosted by Maghrabi Foundation, which is a group of companies including the biggest eye hospital in the Middle East.
Amman, Jordan: In September, Saheer Shakhshir, Irlen Director in Jordan, translated the Parent & Educator Toolkits into Arabic. Three of the Jordan screeners, along with Saheer, undertook this huge task of translating the two Toolkits. During Awareness Week, there were lectures in six schools, three universities, two educational centers, and for charity associations. Each screener was in charge of turning out the lights in her school.
Saheer is a member of the Toastmasters Club, and last month she was a speaker and talked about Irlen Syndrome. The General Academic Supervisor for the Modern School in Saudi Arabia came to Amman, Jordan, and made an appointment with Saheer on October 11. She was introduced to Irlen Syndrome and how the Irlen Center in Jordan runs.
Mexico. Ana Lucila, Irlen Director in Mexico, circulated the new Irlen Infographic through her contacts and on social media.
Channel Islands. Jean Felton, Irlen Director in Channel Islands, had a fun event on Jersey Island for families who have Irlen Syndrome. Pizza Express hosted a party for 45 adults and children with face painting and the Storm Troopers arriving. They also had a raffle to help fund lenses for those who cannot afford them.
California, USA. From Susan Hughes, Irlen Director in California, had a “Roll Ride & Spin” Saturday at One-Mile Recreation Area at Bidwell Park, California, to benefit people with Irlen Syndrome. In the Chico area, six children and one adult are wearing the lenses because of lab fee awards following a Readathon in April. People participated in the Roll Ride & Spin event with scooters, skates, bicycles, wheelchairs and strollers. Participants decorated their wheels and dressed in purple.
Texas, USA. Irlen Director Julie Yaxley arranged an event at the Krist Samaritan Center in Houston on Saturday, October 17, and launched the clinic’s new interactive website www.yaxley-irlen.com. Julie also introduced some novel tasks to help people determine if color is helpful. The first involves changing the background color so young children can find if objects hidden on the page can be identified easier. The second involves covering half of a page of text with different colors so when reading across people can judge if reading becomes more fluent. Please feel free to link to her site if any of these items would prove beneficial to you (or your practice) and help spread awareness.
Athens, Greece. From Evaggelos Bochatziar, Irlen Director in Greece: “I would like to inform you that on the 31st of October the 5th Panhellenic Day of Learning Difficulties will be held in Athens. An important part of it will be devoted to Irlen Syndrome – Irlen Awareness Week and its symptoms. Also, I am going to present, as the main presenter, Irlen Syndrome in different areas; for example, Irlen and math, Irlen and depth perception, Irlen and pronunciation in reading, Irlen and headaches, Irlen and dysgraphia, Irlen and reading accuracy and speed. All of these categorized sections will be presented with videos as well. Good luck to the whole world throughout Irlen.”
Colorado, USA. From Jeannie Dunn, Irlen Director in Colorado: “It’s Irlen Syndrome Awareness Week in Grand Junction as declared in a Mayoral Proclamation. I spoke to our City Council, and approximately 50 people in the audience, on October 7 to inform them about Irlen Syndrome. September 26: An Irlen Screener and I were speakers at the Western Colorado Autism Conference and presented a session entitled Irlen Syndrome – a Piece of the Puzzle AND the last week of September, we launched our business website www.learningassociatesgv.com. October 8: I met with Counselors at the Vocational Rehabilitation Office to present information and answer questions about Irlen Syndrome. October 13: I was interviewed on our community radio station about Irlen Syndrome during a noontime program. October 20: Two Irlen Screeners and I coordinated and participated in a community event that we planned and coordinated. The event – Literacy Matters! – was an opportunity for community members to learn about businesses/agencies who promote literacy. This will be an annual event and expand considerably for next year. Also on this day, an Irlen Screener who works as a Student Mentor at Colorado Mesa University set up an information table in the Student Center. She talked to over 40 students to answer their questions about Irlen Syndrome. October 22: An Irlen Screener and I set up an informational table on Irlen Syndrome at a local bookstore located in a prime location downtown. We talked with lots of people who came to the bookstore and many who walked by headed to restaurants or others shops to spread information and answer questions. People put their names and contact information into a basket, and we drew names for free screenings. October 27: My colleagues who are Irlen Screeners and I are participating in the Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase at our city’s convention center and set up a display on Irlen Syndrome. Approximately 1500 community members attend this event each year. We are already planning additional activities for October 2016!”
Illinois, USA. From Julie Yepsen, Irlen Director in Illinois: “Last year, a huge cupcake baking frenzy for educators of an entire school district and a gathering at a local mall were our main events for Irlen Awareness Week. This year, I focused on a different concept. I wanted to involve all clients, screeners, and Facebook contacts to help spread Irlen Syndrome Awareness in simple ways. Because I noticed that screeners in the Midwest were not involved much, if at all, last year, I really wanted to empower them this year. I sent emails to adult clients, parents of clients, and screeners in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Illinois asking they consider supporting our cause. I provided a list of easy options that they might be able to use to help spread the word. Ideas were as simple as showing a friend how the Irlen app worked, sending emails with one fact per day, sharing an image or fact on social media about Irlen Syndrome, and talking to a different person each day about personal benefits from using overlays or wearing Irlen Spectral Filters. During ISAW, I posted different facts, links, photos, and videos at least three times per day on FB from my business page that had a mere 72 likes at the time. From that effort alone, FB total posts by others were up 760% from the previous week. Number of people engaged was up 673% from the previous week. Those original 72 likes resulted in contact with people in 24 different countries! The local ABC morning news for Chicago announced our Lights Out event on Tuesday morning. I concluded the week with a screener training class. It included teachers from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Overall, we had a very successful week here in the Midwest!”
Amman, Jordan. From Taline Najjar, Irlen Director in Jordan: “Very excited about all that is going on for ISAW! What we did here at the Ahliyyah School for Girls is the following:
1. During our morning assemblies at school, a presentation was given to each grade level.
2. All screeners wore a T-shirt that says: “Ask me about Irlen Syndrome.”
3. Rana Shaban, Irlen Director and Head of Elementary School and Al Kashef Center, will give a PYP/IB workshop on November 1 in The Hague, Holland. She will be delivering the school’s experience in applying inclusion and talking more about the services of Al-Kashef Center, one of which is screening and diagnostic testing for Irlen Syndrome.
4. On November 7, a screener and I will be doing a workshop for all parents. It is a two hour workshop only about Irlen Syndrome!”
Maryland, USA: Shoshana Shamberg, Irlen Director in Baltimore, Maryland, kicked off Irlen Awareness Week with a vendor booth the previous Thursday and Friday at the Annual Center for Autism & Related Disorders at the Kennedy Kriger Institute Conference in Baltimore, which was attended by over 250 professionals and parents. Shoshana met with the Director of Therapy Services, Dr Lana Warren, to discuss possible Irlen trainings for her staff and a pilot research project collaboration. Shoshana also met with the Director of Autism Research at Towson University to discuss how to create a sensory smart environment for their research clinic renovation and trainings for staff, as well as a possible collaborative research study. Both were provided research packets on Irlen Syndrome and the Teacher and Parent Toolkits created by the Irlen Syndrome Foundation. Kits were also sent to local private schools, and a mailing was sent to over 3,500 OTs and OTAs licensed in Maryland about Irlen trainings and awareness week. Three presentations are planned for professionals and consumers during Irlen Awareness Week. Press releases and advertising were placed in local publications, and an article was published for a monthly magazine focusing on education this month. And there is more to come in the Mid-Atlantic area of the USA by the Irlen Visual Learning Center and the Amen Clinic of DC in Reston, Virginia.
These are just a few of the many awareness efforts that took place during ISAW 2015. Please share your own ISAW experience with us by posting to our Irlen Awareness Week Facebook Group or on Twitter @SeeIrlen #ISAW2015!