Welcome to ONBIDA
The International Dyslexia Association Ontario Branch

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IDA Purpose Statement

The purpose of The International Dyslexia Association is to pursue and provide the most comprehensive range of information and services that address the full scope of dyslexia and related difficulties in learning to read and write.

In a way that creates hope, possibility and partnership.

So that every individual has the opportunity to lead a productive and fulfilling life, and society benefits from the resource that is liberated.


IDA Mission Statement

The International Dyslexia Association is an international organization that concerns itself with the complex issues of dyslexia. The IDA membership consists of a variety of professionals in partnership with individuals with dyslexia and their families. We believe all individuals have the right to achieve their potential, that individual learning abilities can be strengthened, and that social, educational and cultural barriers to language acquisition and use must be removed.


IDA actively promotes effective teaching approaches and related clinical educational intervention strategies for individuals with dyslexia. We support and encourage interdisciplinary study and research. We facilitate the exploration of the causes and early identification of dyslexia and are committed to the responsible and wide dissemination of research-based knowledge.


IDA Headquarters

Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, IDA has more than 13.000 members worldwide. Members and the public-at-large have access to local resources throughout more than 45 branches in the U.S., Canada and affiliate organizations around the world.

Ontario Branch

The Ontario Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (ONBIDA) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in June 2004. The branch is operated by volunteers and a part time Executive Director, providing free information, support and referral services to the public.

Charitable Registration Number 85713 3078 RR0001

Elaine Keenan (President)

Elaine graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelors degree in Social Science and a post-graduate Diploma in Business Studies. Elaine and her husband Ken have four daughters three of whom have been identified as being dyslexic. Elaine has spent the last 13 years educating herself in the area of learning disabilities and in particular dyslexia. She is a tireless advocate for the rights of all children to receive an appropriate and fair education in Ontario. In May of 2012 Elaine joined the ONBIDA board, where her primary role was to sit on the Parent Group Committee and to set up a parent support group in her area of Etobicoke. Elaine also sits on the eLearning committee and she has been integral in the development of our new website. Elaine has worked as an education advocate with individual parents, parent groups, teachers, principals and school boards. Elaine completed the Associate Level of training in the Orton Gillingham approach. Elaine has worked as a tutor and a coach working with children with learning disabilities in the area of language, organization and attention.

Jana Leggett (Immediate Past President)
Jana Leggett holds a M.H.Sc. degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She has worked for the Toronto District School Board for the last 8 years as a consultant with a special interest in working with students who have difficulties in the areas of higher level language processing, reading and writing. Jana’s current role in the school board includes designing and leading professional development sessions for teachers, educational assistants, parents and other professionals, running small intervention groups and co-instructing with teachers across grades and classrooms. In partnership with Sherry Raffalovitch, she wrote and piloted a research based, supplemental language and literacy program for grades 1 and 2. As a member of the OSLA School Support Services Committee, Jana has also been part of a writing team that partnered with the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Policy and Programs Branch to develop a document regarding oral language development in students from K-3. In addition to her clinical work, Jana is an instructor at the University of Toronto’s Speech-Language Pathology department.

Yatin Dullabh (Treasurer)

Yatin Dullabh is a qualified Chartered Accoutant and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) with over 12 years of financial audit, IT audit and consulting experience. Highly accomplished Auditor Controls Consultant, and Accounting professional with a successful verifiable track record in corporate audit, IT audit, accounting, and business advisory services. He is well versed in performing controls gap analysis, and designing business process and system improvements.

Sherry Raffalovitch
Sherry Raffalovitch is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has worked for the Toronto District School Board for the past 10 years. She started her career in the Kindergarten Early Language Intervention Program (KELI); where she co-instructed a language and literacy program for at risk senior kindergarten students with a teacher. Following that experience she moved into a consultation role with the board and became involved with students who had difficulty learning to read and write. In partnership with Jana Leggett, she wrote and piloted a research based, supplemental language and literacy program, designed to be co-instructed in grade 1 and 2 classrooms. This program is currently being re-piloted and researched. Sherry graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Masters in Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Moses Velasco

Moses Velasco is a teacher with the Toronto District School Board. As an educator for over 12 years, he has held a variety of teaching and instructional leadership positions both at the school and central office level. He has had experiences in classrooms, special education, Ministry of Education and central offices working with and alongside student who have learning disabilities. He believes in the importance of advocating for early identification and interventions for students affected wtih learning difficulties to ensure that they receive quality education.

Sioban Karman

Sioban Karman has worked as a teacher for the York Region District School Board for 25 years.  She has her Bachelor Degree in Education and Psychology.  Sioban has her Special Education Specialist and attended both MSSL courses taught by Sally Shearman.  She also had the privilege of working closely with Sally. She has spent the last 10 years as a Special Education Resource Teacher.  Sioban has attended many of the conferences, teacher workshops and presentations offered by ONBIDA.  She has helped with the Parent Education Group and has been involved with parent advocacy for the past six years. Sioban has two boys with dyslexia.


Stewart Burton
Stewart Burton is Vice Chairman and member of the Global Banking Operating Committee. He is responsible for senior client coverage and has extensive experience in investment banking, providing both financing and merger and acquisition advice across a broad range of industries.  Stewart joined the Corporate Finance Department of RBC Capital Markets in 1986 after earning his MBA degree from the Harvard Business School.  Stewart also holds an HBA from the University of Western Ontario.  Prior to completing his MBA, Stewart earned his Chartered Accountants designation after spending three years iwth Ernst and Young.  He is currently a Director of the Canadian Opera Company.  Stewart has had a lifelong interest and commitment to literacy, and serves on the Advisory Council of ONBIDA.

Flemming Friisdahl
Flemming grew up with dyslexia that went unidentified until he was a teenager.  After being diagnosed, Flemming moved to the Kenneth Gordon School for students with learning disabilities in British Columbia where he received specialized instruction.  Flemming caught up 6 years of schooling in only 2 years.  Now as a successful professional, Flemming is interested in giving back, particularly with young students and through ONBIDA's Advisory Council where he hopes to connect the business community to ONBIDA's work.  Having spent the last 19 years with Thomas Cook Canada, Flemming has held a variety of positions in the company in both Ontario and Western Canada.  Flemming is currently Vice President of Sales for all Thomas Cook Canada tour operator brands, and is now based back at the company's Vancouver office.

Mark Foerster
Mark joined Munich Re in September 2000. Mark is responsible for all aspects of group operations including financial reporting and client servicing along with claims services for both lines of business – individual and group. Mark had 6 years of senior insurance management experience prior to joining Munich Re and 13 years of senior management/executive roles with a large financial institution. Mark began his insurance career in 1988 leading a start-up insurance operation within a large financial institution. Mark received his Honours degree in Business Administration in 1977 and a Masters degree in Business Administration in 1980 (both from the University of Western Ontario -Ivey School of Business. He completed the requirements for a Certified Financial Planner designation in 1997. Mark has taught part-time as a university instructor in Strategic Management. He has also served on numerous charity boards, and is currently Past Chair, United Way York Region.  Mark is currently advising ONBIDA in Strategic Planning.

Elie Roth
Elie Roth is a partner with Davies Ward Phillios & Vineberg LLP in Toronto, where he is a member of the the taxation law practice group.  Elie advises on domestic and international tax planning, corporate reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance, and also acts as counsel to a number of charitable and non-profit organizations.  Elie has advised ONBIDA on charity and taxation law matters since the Ontario Branch was formed and assisted ONBIDA in its registration as a Canadian charity.  In honour of Elie's contributions to ONBIDA, a scholarship fund was set up in his name.

Sally Shearman
Sally Shearman was one of the founders of the Ontario Branch of the Ontario Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, serving as President from .  Sally teaches Special Education and has been with the York Region District School Board since 1991.  She was a member of the Advisory Panel for the National Early Literacy Strategy, a project of the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (CLLRNet), and a member of the Advisory Panel for the Effective Reading Instruction Resource Kit, CLLRNet.  She has served in a variety of positions at the local and national levels within IDA since 1999.  Sally has developed and delivered many different workshops and teaching modules to raise awareness amongst education professionals of research-based classroom approaches to teaching individuals with dyslexia.  Dyslexia runs in Sally's family and she is passionate about making sure that all children receive research-informed literacy instruction.

Jennifer Goudey 
Jennifer Goudey joins the ONBIDA board with a wealth of knowledge in the field of children’s mental health and management skills. She has recently completed her PhD in School Psychology from the University of Alberta and is currently working with the Learning Disabilities Research Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Her research interest is in the area of parent involvement and children’s reading development, with a focus on parents helping with their children’s reading at home. A current research project looks at the contributions that a home-based parent tutoring program has on children’s reading achievement.

Michèle Minor-Corriveau, Ph.D

Michele holds a M.Sc.S. degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a PhD in Human Studies, both from Laurentian University. Since 1998, she has worked with school-aged children presenting with speech and language difficulties and disorders. Michèle has been part of a writing team that partnered with the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Policy and Programs Branch to develop a document regarding oral language development in students from K-3. Michèle edited the French edition of the ressource titled " A Parent Guide to Supporting Success at School : Helping Students with Speech and Language Impairments", an initiative from the Ontario Association of Families of Children with Communication Disorders. She is also the consultant for the French Speechtree project (speechtree.ca). Michele is currently an Assistant Professor at Laurentian University. Her research interests center around, but are not limited to, creating standardized procedures for assessment and intervention of speech and language disorders targeting the Franco Ontarian population. She is a member of the ONBIDA advisory board and she is always honoured to help promote the profession of Speech-Language Pathology and its relevance in the bilingual setting.



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