In Bulgaria, the first articles where the term “dyslexia” can be found date back to the 1980s. The first definition of dyslexia in Bulgarian was given by Professor Matanova in 2001:

Dyslexia is a general category of specific learning disorders, which refers to the ability in seven specific areas of functioning: impressive speech, expressive language, basic reading skills, comprehension of reading, basic writing skills, understanding of the writing, basic math skills, and mathematical thinking.

Matanova, 2001

Other definitions that are often adopted in Bulgaria include the following:

Dyslexia is a processing difference, often characterised by difficulties in literacy acquisition affecting reading, writing and spelling. It can also have an impact on cognitive processes such as memory, speed of processing, time management, co-ordination and automaticity. There may be visual and / or phonological difficulties and there are usually some discrepancies in educational performances.

There will [be] individual differences in individual variation and it is therefore important to consider learning styles and the learning and work context when planning intervention and accommodations.

Reid, 2009, p4


Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills. It is characterised by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed, and the automatic development of skills that may not match up to an individual’s other cognitive abilities.

British Dyslexia Association, 1997

The first dyslexia association, the “Dyslexia Association – Bulgaria” (DABg) was founded in Ruse, in September 2005.


As far as diagnosis is concerned, in theory a general screening of all children is made by a speech therapist at the beginning of the school year in primary education courses. Within this process, the assessing therapist also collects data concerning reading / writing / maths related problems from class teachers.

Assessments can be made in specialised medical centres by children’s psychiatrists or clinical psychologists, in collaboration with speech therapists and neurologists when necessary.

Assessments can also be initiated by parents as a result of the screening or individually in a state speech therapists’ centre, where children are assessed by speech therapists, psychologists and neurologists. The assessment consists of a neuro-psychological and cognitive appraisal of written and speech presentation. Standardised diagnostic procedures and questionnaires areused to evaluate coordination, short term and working memory, text understanding, etc.

There is no standardised test for dyslexia. Different tests are used by different specialists. As far as cognitive tests are concerned, different IQ tests are used, such as Wechsler, Raven, etc. The specialists use different tests to assess visual and auditory memory, working memory, attention, etc. In terms of specific reading, writing and calculation abilities, no specific tests are used. It is left to the specialist’s judgement to decide the extent to which an individual’s reading, writing and math skills match his / her age.

Indeed, there is no overall governmental policy concerning dyslexia, nor are there any obligatory and binding legal acts surrounding the issue. The main dyslexia related regulation is the Ordinance 1 for education of children and students with special educational needs, but students with dyslexia cannot benefit from any specific compensatory or dispensatory measures. In September 2015, theBulgarian Parliament ratified the changes in the Ordinance No1 on the education of children and young people with specific educational needs and chronic diseases. Subsequently, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia have been listed among the specific educational needs.

Bulgaria’s Center for Demographic Policy (CDP) Chair, Iskren Veselinov, expressed the hope that the Ministry of Education, Science, and Youth, at the time (2013) headed by “a renowned Bulgarian researcher and patriot”, would introduce positive developments in literacy improvements the end of the government’s term in office.

The first item on the ranking of the CDP draws attention to the fact that Bulgaria has the highest illiteracy rate in the EU. The CDP cites data of the European Commission indicating that 41% of Bulgarian students are not fully literate.

Bulgaria ranks 53rd by literacy rate in 2012, after Kyrgyzstan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, and Tonga.

According to an EC report under the 012 – 2015 Convergence Programme, Bulgaria has the EU’s highest share of people with reading difficulties.

According to CDP data, the share of illiterate Bulgarians is at 50-60%. According to official statistics, 41% of Bulgaria’s population of up to 16 years of age are illiterate. According to data of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, nearly 70% of the unemployed are completely illiterate.

Bulgarian is a foreign language for many students, with over half of the students in 1,2, or 3 grade having another mother tongue and experiencing difficulties learning Bulgarian, according to statistics of the Education Ministry. There are a very small number of immigrants in Bulgaria, and although bilingual individuals in the country number over 15% of the population they have never been considered as a separate group when it comes to assessing their specific learning difficulties/needs.

Demographic Census on Bulgaria – 2011

In fact, there is no differentiation in diagnosis for different groups of people within Bulgaria, nor are there any specialised centres for dyslexia screening for immigrants of bilingual / multilingual / sub- and pluricultural individuals.

See for instance: