This series has already passed, but you can register to receive the recordings of one, two, or all three webinars.

Join us for our 2022 S2P Summer Equity Series! The LD Institute is proud to present these three webinars, which feature important topics for speech-language pathologists, psychologists, and other professionals.

Each webinar is approximately 90 minutes. These webinars will be recorded, and can be viewed at a later date. Sign up for one webinar, or the full series! Members receive a discounted rate.

Oral language and reading acquisition: Considerations for Black dialect speakers

​For many children, learning to read is the process of learning to understand their spoken language in a written form. The relationship between oral language skills and reading skills is well documented. But what happens when there is a disconnect between a child’s ​oral language system and the language​of reading? This webinar will discuss ​oral language as the foundation for reading and the added complexity of learning to read for Black dialect speakers and how not understanding this complexity contributes to illiteracy and inequity.


Dr. Ryan Lee-James is an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist and published author with expertise in language development, language disorders, and literacy in the context of linguistic differences and socioeconomic disadvantage and believes that eventually, all children will be liberated through language and literacy. In her current role as the Director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy at the Atlanta Speech School, Dr. Lee-James is responsible for working collaboratively with community-based organizations and key stakeholders to impact language and literacy achievement for our all children, especially those who have been disenfranchised by inequitable systems. Before joining the team at the Atlanta Speech School, Dr. Lee-James had the privilege of training and mentoring graduate level speech-language pathologists as a member of the Communication Sciences and Disorders faculty at Adelphi University in New York. Dr. Lee-James serves on numerous boards and committees for local and national entities. 

Dr. Lakeisha Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Science and Disorders program at Florida State University and a certified speech-language pathologist. She is also the director of The Village, the community outreach and engagement division of the Florida Center for Reading Research. Her primary research interests include language, literacy, dialect, and executive function development in African American children. Dr. Johnson believes in building and leveraging research-practice partnerships to ensure children from vulnerable and underserved populations obtain strong language and literacy skills. She has a passion for diverse children’s books and runs a website, Maya’s Book Nook, to help caregivers and educators use these books to promote language and literacy foundations.

Evaluation of Specific Learning Disabilities in English Learners: Visualizing normal ability via Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of cognitive abilities domain-level analysis

The presentation will introduce a new method of determining the impact of cultural and linguistic factors on domain-level cognitive performance thru using Excel-based histograms to form visual representations of expected performance within the context of normal ability. Participants will learn how use the “Visual Normal Ability Profile” to provide a more systematic and evidence-based method for addressing test score validity while using a graph format that is familiar to practitioners.  The process assists in the identification of specific learning disabilities while retaining an inherent focus on fairness and equality while ensuring validity to prevent potential bias in evaluation of English Learners and diverse populations. 

Participants will:

1. Explain how cultural and linguistic factors affect test performance across various domains of cognitive ability. 

2. Assess the validity of measured test scores at the broad ability level for English learners relative to cultural and linguistic factors. 

3. Compare expected versus obtained test score results to effectively identify Specific Learning Disabilities in English learners in a nondiscriminatory manner. 


Dr. Ortiz is Professor of Psychology and former Director of the School Psychology Program at St. John’s University, Queens, New York. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southern California and completed postdoctoral training in Bilingual School Psychology at San Diego State University where he also obtained certification as a school psychologist. In addition, he has served as Visiting Professor and Research Fellow at Nagoya University in Japan and was recently elected Vice President for Professional Affairs of Division 16 of APA beginning Jan. 2003. Dr. Ortiz trains and consults nationally and internationally on topics ranging from nondiscriminatory assessment to contemporary evaluation of learning disabilities. He combines practical and research based experience with specialized education and training in working with culturally and linguistically diverse children and parents. Dr. Ortiz is bilingual (Spanish) and bicultural (Puerto Rican).

Larry Pristo, Ph.D. is a school certified and board licensed psychologist providing services in Arizona since 1977.  He currently is the director of a contract agency that has provided a variety of special education support services to over 50 school districts in the state, and supervises interns in Phoenix at the Washington School District, the largest elementary district in the State.  Dr. Pristo is the co-author of the District’s specific learning disabilities (SLD) identification model and developed a local format to assist in SLD determination, presenting the information at a number of school districts and universities throughout Arizona.

Over his career, Dr. Pristo has worked within the Department of Corrections, the County Jail, health maintenance, an alcohol recovery program, one-on-one therapeutic settings, and provided in-services statewide through the Department of Education. As a school psychologist, he has been in numerous schools with high rates of bilingual, diverse, or refugee students.  Dr. Pristo is a long-standing advocate for the appropriate assessment and interpretation of evaluation results for diverse populations.

Equity through Literacy: What School Psychologists Need to Know about the Science of Reading

Literate citizens are essential for a functioning democracy. However, reading failure is a persistent problem across the United States. In schools primarily serving low income and culturally and linguistically diverse learners, there is a well-documented literacy crisis. No matter if the role of the psychologist is to design evidenced-based interventions and progress monitoring plans or to evaluate to determine special education eligibility, it is critical for all school psychologists to understand what the research tells us about evidenced-based instruction, intervention and assessment. This webinar will overview the science of reading instruction and the role of the school psychologist in promoting social justice by working to ensure all students achieve literacy.


Michelle Storie, Ph.D. is a New York state licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist, and is the Director of the Psychoeducational Teaching Laboratory at Syracuse University.  Michelle has formerly served as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Counseling and Psychological Services Department at SUNY Oswego and has taught  courses in educational psychology and learning disabilities at Syracuse University.  Michelle’s research interests include development of prosocial skills, the impact of health and wellness programs on academic achievement, and effective transition from high school to college.  She presents locally and nationally on these topics, as well as learning disabilities and psychoeducational assessment.  

Dr. Whittaker is an experienced school psychologist, educator, relationship builder, and administrator with a proven record of excellence in the areas of special education and student services, assessment, developing academic and social-emotional programs, and fostering strong relationships with students, parents, and the community.  His career began as a special education teacher, where he taught dually diagnosed students. Dr. Whittaker served as a school psychologist for over ten years before moving into a variety of district leadership roles Dr. Whittaker grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Cheyney University. Dr. Whittaker earned his Master’s degree as well as his Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Immaculata University. Dr. Whittaker’s dissertation focused on the underrepresentation of African-American students in gifted education and he is passionate about addressing the educational achievement gap within the public school system, diversity-equity- and inclusion, assisting parents and families navigate the special education process, and gifted education.

Monica McHale-Small is the Director of Education for the Learning Disabilities Association of America and an Adjunct Associate Professor of School Psychology at Temple University. Monica retired from public education after twenty-seven years of service in Pennsylvania as a school psychologist and in a variety of district leadership roles including, most recently, district superintendent. She earned her doctorate and masters’ degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. Dr. McHale-Small has long advocated bringing sound research into practice in public schools. She advocates for responsible inclusion and equity for historically underserved students including racially, culturally and linguistically diverse students and students with disabilities. While superintendent of Saucon Valley School District, she co-founded the Greater Lehigh Valley Consortium for Equity and Excellence for the purpose of facilitating training and conversation among school district leaders focused on educational equity. She currently consults with the ACLU of PA on School to Prison Pipeline issues. She serves as past president of the Learning Disabilities Association of America, and has previously served on boards of the International Dyslexia Association, the Pennsylvania Branch of IDA, and the National Association of Pupil Services Administrators.