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Strategies to Support Students with Learning Disabilities


About LDAC’s 2022 Conference

The Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) is hosting a virtual conference on October 21, 2022, entitled
“Learning from Research and Practice: Strategies to Support Students with Learning Disabilities”.

The learning disabilities conference is LDAC’s 2nd annual event gathering the country’s top minds on learning disabilities (LD) and connecting them with teachers and education professionals from across Canada. Last year’s event brought together over 475 educators and other professionals from every corner of Canada. This year is expected to be even better with more content and more experts helping to convert the latest research and strategies into practical means of application in reaching those with learning disabilities.

This year’s conference will include three streams:

  • Stream A: Reading, Writing and Math
  • Stream B: Supporting Secondary Characteristics
  • Stream C: Support for Francophone Issues

This conference is relevant to:


Parents of children with Learning Disabilities


Speech-Language Pathologists

Program At A Glance (EST)



Start Time End Time

Session Title & Description

11:00 11:15

Welcome and Introduction

11:15 12:00

Keynote: Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities

Speaker: Dr. Jacqueline Specht

Stream A- Reading, Writing, Math
Stream B- Supporting Secondary Characteristics
Stream C – Francophone

12:00 12:45

Stream A: Reading Interventions in the Context of Every Child’s Right to Read

Speaker: Jamie Metsala, Ph.D.

Stream B: Empowering learning: Fostering Success for Students with Learning Disabilities

Speaker: Deborah L. Butler, Ph.D.

Stream C: Comprendre des textes avec des habiletés langagières fragilisées : le cas des élèves ayant un trouble développemental du langage

Speakers: Oxana Leonti, Ph.D., & Daniel Daigle, Ph.D.

12:45 13:30

Stream A: Reading Comprehension and the Junior/Senior High Student

Speaker: Kim McLean, M. Ed.,

Stream B: Responding to diversity within schools: Developing teaching practices that promote self-regulated learning

Speaker: Charlotte Brenner, Ph.D.

13:30 13:45


 13:45 14:30

Stream A: From Effective Intervention to Early Intervention: New Research on Teaching Struggling Beginning Writers

Speaker: Perry Klein, Ph.D.

Stream B: The Science behind Assistive Technology: What We Know

Speaker: Todd Cunningham, Ph.D.

14:30 15:15

Stream A: Assistive Technology: A Powerful Tool with Myriad Possibilities for Students with Learning Disabilities

Speakers: Fizza Haider & Donna McGhie-Richmond

Stream B: Effective Practice for Implementing Assistive Technology with Students who have Learning Disabilities

Speaker: Todd Cunningham, Ph.D.

15:15 15:30


15:30 16:15

Stream A: Access for All

Speaker: Cathy Marks Krpan

Stream B:The Path to Postsecondary: Charting a Course for Success

Speaker: Lauren Goegan, Ph.D.

Stream C: Tirer profit du « groupitizing » pour faciliter l’apprentissage de la numération

Speaker: Nathalie Bisaillon, Ph.D.


16:15 17:00

Stream A:Word Problems? No Problem!

Speaker: Sarah Powell, Ph.D.

Stream B:Understanding the Psycho-Educational Process

Speaker: Sharon Penney, Ph.D.

Stream C:Entre bien-être et épuisement professionnel chez les personnes enseignantes : qu’avons-nous appris de la pandémie?

Speaker: Caterina Mamprin, Ph.D.

17:00 17:30

Closing Plenary: Supporting Secondary Characteristics of LDs

Speaker: Dr. Gabrielle Young, Ph.D.




Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities

Jacqueline Specht, Ph.D., is a Professor and the Director of the Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education at the University of Western Ontario in London Canada (https://www.inclusiveeducationresearch.ca/). Collectively, the centre aims to empower educators with the knowledge they need to be effective with all students in the K-12 schooling system. Dr. Specht’s research expertise is located in the areas of: inclusive education; teacher development; and psychosocial aspects of individuals with disabilities. She has worked with schools nationally and internationally to support their transition to inclusive education. Her recent book with Dr. Nancy Hutchinson Inclusion of Learners with Exceptionalities in Canadian Schools is a textbook that is used in initial teacher education programs across Canada.


Reading, Writing and Math

Reading Interventions in the Context of Every Child’s Right to Read

Jamie Metsala, Ph.D., is a Professor and the Jarislowsky Chair in Learning Disabilities at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. Her research concerns reading development, disabilities, and interventions. Recently, she was a scientific advisor to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC’s) Right to Read Public Inquiry. Dr. Metsala has taught courses on science aligned instruction to pre-service and in-service teachers and to school psychology graduate students.

Reading Comprehension and the Junior/Senior High Student

Kim McLean, M. Ed., has been a special education teacher for over 35 years and is currently the Principal of Foothills Academy; an independent school for students with learning disabilities and a teacher evaluator for Alberta Education with degrees from Brock University and Lesley University. She is a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary on “Social, Emotional and Behavioral Success for Students with Learning Disabilities”. Kim is a member of the LDAC’s Research Committee and a provincial representative.  Kim presents workshops and webinars for parents, teachers, schools, post secondary institutions, and businesses around North America on topics ranging from: the brain and learning how to read, class management, critical thinking; and learning disabilities and executive functioning. Kim was very honoured to have been the recipient of the “National Educator of the Year” award from the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada.

From effective intervention to early intervention: New RESEARCH ON TEACHING STRUGGLING BEGINNING WRITERS

Perry Klein, Ph.D., started his career as a teacher in North York, Ontario. He completed a Ph.D. in Applied Educational Psychology at the Centre for Applied Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. He teaches courses in educational psychology and teaching reading and writing to struggling students. He recently completed a term as Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Education. He leads a team investigating “Early Intervention in Writing.” This project, funded by a SSHRC Insight Grant, takes an evidence-based approach to four questions: How can we teach writing strategies and self-regulation to beginning writers? How can we make writing education more effective for struggling writers, including students with learning disabilities? How can writing instruction be organized to make it inclusive and effective? How should instruction in composition and mechanics be sequenced, balanced and integrated?

Assistive Technology: A Powerful Tool with Myriad Possibilities for Students with Learning Disabilities 

Fizza Haider (she/her), M.A., is a Learning Experience Designer focusing on the accessibility of teaching and learning environments and materials at University of Victoria. Having a Masters (MA) in Educational Psychology, she taps into her understanding of evidence-based instructional strategies and frameworks such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to develop training workshops and resources for diverse audiences to guide them in the application of accessible design principles to lesson and course planning. Her areas of research interest include inclusive education, teacher education and training, teacher self-efficacy, school leadership, and assistive technology. She received the G. M. Dunlop Distinguished Contribution Award from the Canadian Association for Education Psychology in May 2022 for her Masters research exploring factors that influence beginning teachers’ self-efficacy for teaching in diverse classrooms. Over the last few years, Fizza has taught and assisted in teaching courses offered as part of the special and inclusive education programs at University of Victoria (Certificate and Diploma). Prior to that, she worked as an Assistive Technology and Academic Supports Specialist at Georgia State University, assessing student needs for academic accommodations, and recommending assistive technology training and solutions for students. 

Assistive Technology: A Powerful Tool with Myriad Possibilities for Students with Learning Disabilities

Donna McGhie-Richmond, Ph.D., (she/her)is an Associate Professor in Educational Psychology, at the University of Victoria. Her research and teaching focus on the role of inclusive instructional models such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and instructional and assistive technologies in enabling teaching and learning to support inclusion of all students. She was instrumental in designing and teaches several courses in the Professional Specialization Certificate and Diploma in Special and Inclusive Education in Educational Psychology. Dr. McGhie-Richmond is an active research member of the Canadian Research Centre on Inclusive Education at Western University, London, ON. She is an international researcher in numerous studies focused on uncovering instructional and leadership beliefs and practices that support the active engagement of all students in diverse classrooms. Dr. McGhie-Richmond was a consultant in Augmentative and Alternative Communication at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, ON, contributing educator perspectives within a trans-disciplinary team approach withspeech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, educators, technologists, parents, children, administrators. These experiences consolidated her belief and practice on the essential role of technology to support the active participation and learning of children and youth with disabilities. She has established collaborative connections with school districts in BC and Ministry of Education-supported services such as Provincial Integration Support Program; and SET-BC.

Word Problems? No Problem!

Sarah R. Powell, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently Principal Investigator of an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) efficacy grant related to word problems and equation solving for third-grade students experiencing mathematics difficulties. Dr. Powell was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2019. Her research interests include developing and testing interventions for students with mathematics difficulties, with a special emphasis on peer tutoring, word-problem solving, mathematics writing, and the symbols and vocabulary within mathematics.


Supporting Secondary Characteristics

The Path to Postsecondary: Charting a Course for Success

Lauren Goegan, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Educational Administration, Foundations and Psychology. Her research and teaching focuses on important inclusive pedagogies, the transition from high school to postsecondary education and adaptive motivation. Moreover, due to the recent shift to increased online learning, Dr. Goegan examines the impact of this type of instruction on students with and without LD. She is also a long-time advocate for individuals with LD and collaborates on many projects aimed to support these individuals in their academic pursuits and beyond.

Empowering learning: Fostering Success for Students with Learning Disabilities

Deborah L. Butler, Ph.D., is currently a Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. In her collaborative research with educational partners, Dr. Butler has studied how to support academic success by students with diverse learning needs in supportive and inclusive classrooms, how and why supporting self-regulated learning is so key to empowering learners, and how teachers can work together, in communities of inquiry, to construct practices that achieve positive outcomes for students.

Responding to diversity within schools: Developing teaching practices that promote self-regulated learning

Charlotte Brenner worked as a general and special educator for the Surrey School District for 25 years prior to her recent appointment as an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Lethbridge. During her time with the Surrey School District, Charlotte focused on creating inclusive teaching and learning environments for students and teachers. Currently, her research and practice focus on ways to support teacher candidates from underrepresented populations within teacher education programs, specifically examining their development of inclusive teaching practices. Additionally, collaborating with Dr. Jeffery MacCormack she explores how teacher candidates’ own self-regulation is implicated in their development of inclusive teaching practices.

Effective Practice for Implementing Assistive Technology with Students who have Learning DISABILITIES

Todd Cunningham, Ph.D., is a Clinical and School Psychologist, Associate Professor (teaching stream), Chair of the School and Clinical Child Psychology program and Chair of the EDD School Psychology program at the University of Toronto and provides psychological services through his private practice Bright Lights Psychology. His research investigates the support of students with learning difficulties from assessment to interventions. Projects involve looking at new techniques in psychological assessments, evaluation of assistive technology, professional development in literacy and numeracy, and telepsychology. Dr. Cunningham has shared his expertise with parents, students, educators, school boards, and other professionals across North America. In addition to hundreds of workshops, Dr. Cunningham has guest lectured at universities, given keynote addresses, presented at educational and research conferences, and news outlets. He is a member of the working group for the Guidelines for Diagnosis and Assessment of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Learning Disabilities.


Support for Francophone issues

Tirer profit du « groupitizing » pour faciliter l’apprentissage de la numération

Nathalie Bisaillon, Ph.D., est orthopédagogue de formation. Après avoir été conseillère pédagogique en adaptation scolaire, elle décide d’entreprendre une carrière universitaire. Elle sera chargée de cours pour l’Université de Montréal et l’Université de Sherbrooke pendant plus de 10 ans. C’est au cours de ces années qu’elle décide de poursuivre ses études universitaires. Elle avait déjà une maîtrise ès arts en didactique des mathématiques, qu’elle avait réalisée à l’Université de Montréal. Depuis, elle a obtenu un doctorat en didactique des mathématiques, ce qui lui a permis d’être engagée comme professeure adjointe à l’Université de Montréal. Depuis le début de sa carrière, Mme Bisaillon s’intéresse à l’enseignement et à l’apprentissage des mathématiques auprès des élèves qui rencontrent des difficultés à les apprendre.

Comprendre des textes avec des habiletés langagières fragilisées : le cas des élèves ayant un trouble développemental du langage

Oxana Leonti, Ph.D., détient un doctorat en éducation de l’Université de Montréal. Attribuant un rôle déterminant à la profession enseignante dans la réussite éducative des élèves, elle contribue activement à la formation initiale et continue des maîtres dans son rôle de chargée de cours. Ces réflexions portent sur la réussite éducative des élèves ayant des difficultés et des troubles langagiers, et notamment, sur les liens entre le langage oral et son versant écrit ainsi que sur le développement de la compétence orthographique chez ces apprenants. Forte d’une grande connaissance des milieux éducatifs, elle s’intéresse également aux processus de classements scolaires impliquant les élèves présentant des fragilités langagières.

Entre bien-être et épuisement professionnel chez les enseignant·e·s : qu’avons-nous appris de la pandémie?

Caterina Mamprin, Ph.D., est titulaire d’un baccalauréat en psychologie, une maîtrise en orthopédagogie et un doctorat en psychopédagogie à l’Université de Montréal. Elle s’est jointe à l’équipe du secteur Administration, arts et sciences humaines de l’Université de Moncton (campus de Shippagan) à titre de professeure en éducation. Ses intérêts de recherche s’ancrent dans une perspective psychopédagogique et portent principalement sur le bienêtre, l’épuisement professionnel et l’étude des relations interpersonnelles (p. ex. le soutien social, la contagion émotionnelle) chez les enseignant·e·s. En privilégiant une approche systémique, elle s’intéresse également à l’expérience des enseignant·e·s lors de l’inclusion des élèves ayant des parcours diversifiés dans leur classe. Sa formation en adaptation scolaire et son implication dans des recherches-actions menées auprès de classes à vocation particulières (p. ex. classes adaptées pour les élèves en situation de handicap ou ayant des difficultés d’apprentissage, classes d’accueil) l’ont aussi amenée à étudier le développement du bien-être des élèves.

Key Dates

Registration opens

July 20, 2022

Early Bird registration deadline

September 16, 2022

Standard registration deadline

September 30, 2022

Late registration ends

October 19, 2022

Conference starts

October 21, 2022

More about the programme and why this is important

The learning gap for students with specific Learning Disorders is an ongoing concern and with the onset of the COVID pandemic, individuals are struggling even more due to school closures, online learning challenges, and mental health issues. Achieving curricular objectives has been extremely difficult for school age children. Teachers and parents are stressed trying to support their students and children. Because of the constraints within the educational system as a result of COVID, the gap has been widening even further for students with Specific Learning Disorders.

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Casgrain is joining this worthwhile cause that devotes and supports the learning challenges ecosystem.


LDAC-ACTA appreciates the support of:

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