Northeast Iowa Community College, in partnership with Unified Therapy, provides an alternative reading program for people with dyslexia and other reading difficulties: The Barton Reading and Spelling System. This system is designed for one-on-one tutoring of children, teenagers and adults and is a systematic, explicit and intensive method of instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension strategies.

The College’s tutors receive intense training and practice before using the Barton System and must complete five to seven hours of training and hands-on practice at each of the ten levels of instruction. Each student is moved at an appropriate individual pace through these levels.

A student should meet with their tutor a minimum of twice per week for no more than an hour (less if the student has difficulties staying focused); meeting every day, however, is ideal. Meeting times and locations are flexible to fit into the student’s schedule.

The cost per one-hour session is $40, and NICC requires payment of the ten sessions before tutoring begins. Family discounts are available for those families with more than one child enrolled in tutoring.

A student does not need a formal dyslexia diagnosis to begin the program; anyone having trouble with reading, spelling, and writing will benefit. However, the Barton System does not help with reading comprehension alone.

The Barton Reading and Spelling System

The Barton Reading and Spelling System is an Orton Gillingham method of instruction. In the 1930s, Anna Gillingham and Dr. Samuel Orton designed a unique method of teaching reading to people with reading difficulties, especially dyslexia. Susan Barton, a world renowned expert in dyslexia, developed these strategies into a multi-sensory approach to reading instruction involving all of the reader’s senses: visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic.

The Barton Reading and Spelling System fulfills all of the No Child Left Behind definition, components and research requirements, and it teaches common core state standards. It takes two to three years to complete the Barton System, depending on the severity of the dyslexia and the number of times per week the student meets.