Top 10 tips for an inclusive workplace


In my last job, I was lucky enough to experience a dyslexic friendly workplace. It allowed me to see first-hand that an inclusive workplace is real possibility in 2022, especially as hybrid working becomes the new normal and digital assistance is now a realistic addition to our everyday work environments.

It’s the small changes that make a big difference to us, allowing for dyslexics to reach our full potential and focus on work. With this in mind, let’s take a look at our top 10 tips for an inclusive workplace in 2022.

  1. Awareness of dyslexia amongst colleagues
    This tip is probably the most important. If colleagues are aware of the challenges faced by dyslexics, then staff are more likely to get on board with the steps listed below. Information forums to spread awareness on dyslexia could help with this. This would also work for any other learning difference, and could definitely help create an inclusive workplace.
  2. Assistive technology
    There are all sorts of assistive technologies that can make a massive difference to a dyslexic’s work environment. Just some examples include smart pens, speech recognition software, text-to-speech software or even on a more basic level spell checkers. Especially with online working much more established since the pandemic, assistive technology is a small addition to our desktops that can make a positive difference.
  3. Practical training
    Receiving practical training as opposed to written instructions can be hugely beneficial. Having a tutorial where a colleague shares their screen and walks you through something new, or even having a video recording teaching you the steps, is often the preferable way to learn.
  4. Dyslexic Fonts
    Specially designed dyslexic fonts have become more widely available in recent years. They are often free to download or purchased for a small fee and can make a huge difference to dyslexics.
  5. One-on-one time with manager
    For dyslexics, having a short one-on-one meeting from time to time with our managers allows us to ask any questions, clarify information and in general have a space to discuss any dyslexia-based challenges. It also creates an open dialogue about dyslexia, contributing to a positive and inclusive workplace culture.
  6. Visual Aids
    As dyslexics are often visual learners, creating visual aids for presentations or communicative means can be a simple and straightforward way of creating an inclusive workplace. This could include flowcharts, diagrams or even simple, sketched out drawings.
  7. Communication format
    Simple changes to communication format can create a more inclusive workplace. For example, printing information on coloured paper, writing in a larger, clear font or making information available on an audio file can be incredibly beneficial to dyslexics.
  8. Concise meetings (where possible!)
    I know, this tip is probably unrealistic (and something non-dyslexics could also benefit from!). But it can’t be denied that keeping meetings concise would help create an inclusive workplace. Dyslexics struggle when there is an overload of information, and it already takes us extra time to read through notes and sift through information.
  9. Quiet working environment/work from home
    Providing a quiet or private working environment can help us when we are trying to read through lots of information. Working from home often works for dyslexics, but having a quiet place at the office as an option is important when creating an inclusive workplace.
  10. Clear calendar system
    Last but not least, having a clear and effective calendar system will really help to build an inclusive workplace. As dyslexics sometimes struggle to keep on top of deadlines, having a visual and collaborative calendar system could be very beneficial. This could also include personalised alarms and reminders. Like with the assistive technology, there are so many free/low-cost collaborative calendar apps that could really help with productivity and create an inclusive workplace.

Maddy Shepherd is a volunteer blogger for Dyslexia Scotland

For more information about workplace reasonable adjustments, please have a look at our Dyslexia and Work page

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Defining dyscalculia

If you know about dyslexia, you will probably have heard about dyscalculia too – a difficulty in understanding number and number processes. Sometimes they can co-occur.

For young people in Scotland who have dyscalculia, it can be hard to engage with maths and numbers at all, leaving them feeling excluded from some learning.

Since Scotland’s curriculum is designed to be inclusive, it’s really important that teachers can understand, recognise and support dyscalculia.

On Monday 25 April 2022, Education Scotland published the Scottish Working Definition of Dyscalculia.

View the definition of dyscalculia on the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit.

Follow the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit on Twitter for further announcements about support resources.

I’ve just found out that I’m dyslexic – now what?


Have you just discovered that you are dyslexic? Or have you known for a while and recently decided to learn more about dyslexia? Here are four opportunities to start you on your discovery journey:

  1. Post Assessment Pack for Adults – this is a great starting point. We’ve curated a variety of resources such as videos, leaflets, infographics, books, podcasts, blogs, articles and signposting to partner organisations. You can view all of these on our website and even download a pdf of the whole pack.
  2. Adult Network meetings – these are peer support meetings for dyslexic adults. Our meetings are currently online via Zoom and are held regularly on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and Saturday mornings. These meetings are facilitated by dyslexic volunteers and our regular attenders are always very welcoming to newcomers. Each meeting has around 20-25 attenders, so you won’t get lost in a crowd. Here’s what Cassie said after her first meeting, “It was wonderful to hear my voice echoed back at me from others with similar feelings, viewpoints and experiences. and to see the nodding heads of agreement and not blank stares. Also hearing about things I had never considered or personally experienced, so I can further educate myself on the diversity within dyslexia itself.”
  3. Student Network meetings – if you are a student at a Scottish (or UK) college or university, this new peer support network is for you. Dean Smith has recently become the Student Network facilitator volunteer, but has previously been volunteering in a variety of roles in Dyslexia Scotland for four years. He is currently working on his PhD and is very keen to support other dyslexic students through the new Student Network.
  4. Helpline – our confidential Helpline is open to anyone who wants to find out more about dyslexia. It is open 10am to 4:30pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 4pm on Fridays on 0344 800 8484 or helpline@dyslexiascotland.org.uk . It is operated by experienced staff and volunteer advisers. When you contact us, you might be looking for advice and guidance about dyslexia, or might be upset or frustrated about a situation that has arisen. Our trained Helpline advisers will put you at ease and try to help with your enquiry. We have access to a wealth of information and can provide you with advice about your situation or signpost you to various resources and relevant organisations.

We’re right beside you as you embark on your dyslexia discovery journey. Or do you know someone who has just discovered that they’re dyslexic? If so, make sure they see this blog.


If you want to learn more about the services and resources we provide, please visit our website: What we do | Dyslexia Scotland

Helen Fleming, Volunteers Manager, Dyslexia Scotland

Teaching English: a dyslexic perspective

For over a year now, every day I have woken up feeling anxious. Anxious that I am going to make a mistake in my job. I’m sure that this is a feeling that many people feel and have felt during their working lives. There are a whole host of anxiety inducing jobs and what could possibly be the cause of my anxiety? Grammar! English grammar is a dread not just for me, but for many other dyslexics out there. But, so what? Well,  I’m currently working as an English Language Teacher in Italy and it requires to me to deal with grammar every day.

“Teacher, what is purpose of Past Perfect Continuous?”;“Prof, do I need to use the Reflexive Verb in this sentence?” ;“John, what phrasal verbs are the most important?”

John is currently working as an English teacher in Italy.

These are just a few of the questions that, to be honest, left me a bit confused. The use of English was, is, and will be a struggle in my life, but now it is a crucial part of my job – to teach it to non-native speakers. Now, I know I’ve got no one else to blame but myself for my current job choice, but that doesn’t comfort me when I wake up and think to myself of all the lessons I have to teach. Going into classrooms and trying to remember the verb to be for a group is ‘they are’ and not ‘they our’. I need to remember the contraction of would’ve = would have’ and not would of, despite this is how it sounds. And let’s not even mention my lingering doubt over the spelling of ‘because’ and ‘February‘ (and even for this blog post I accidently spelled many things wrong like Febuary – thank god for spell checker).

            While my anxiety is not nearly as bad as it was at the beginning of my time In Italy, it still persists. It no longer affects me to such a large extent. Yes, I still think “What if I teach them the wrong grammar and they use it for life?” But, this worry has lessened over time. After many hours of looking at grammar books, completing exercises, and learning to laugh at my mistakes in front of my students, I have become much more confident in my teaching skills.

John Devine, Dyslexia Scotland Young Ambassador

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Scotland’s Census and the dyslexic community 

 

Scotland’s next census will be held on Sunday 20 March 2022, right at the start of our plan for a dyslexia-friendly Scotland. We’re wasting no time in applying our vision for inclusion to this national requirement. 

What will a dyslexia-friendly Scotland be like, when we get there?  

This was the question we posed to the dyslexic community to help us clarify our vision for the future and reimagine inclusion and participation for the half a million people with dyslexia in our country. The defining criteria they asked for included: 

  • All information is easily accessible to people with dyslexia in whatever format they need 
  • Support for dyslexic difficulties of all kinds is available, encouraged and promoted openly 

These are principles that we’re holding close to our hearts as we decide on the work we do over the next three years of our strategic plan. With 2022 being a census year here in Scotland, as a country we have a historical opportunity to be inclusive of everyone. We must make efforts to take away any barriers that a compulsory form poses to many generations of Scots. 

A national partnership  

When the Census plans were underway, it was a no-brainer that we should answer the call from the National Records of Scotland and Scottish Government about ways they could make the census more accessible. They wanted to ensure that they were considering the needs of the dyslexic community when it comes to filling in the census, and that you can access to the help and support you need. 

We know only too well that official forms can be stressful for people with dyslexia. So what help can people with dyslexia in Scotland access when the census is due?  

  • The census can be completed digitally using a computer, tablet or mobile phone, but you can request a paper copy too. 
  • There’s guidance about every question in the census as well as web chat where you can speak to an advisor 
  • There is a free Helpline to get support completing the census: 0800 030 8308 
  • Enumerators will be working all across Scotland. These are people working locally to help, encourage and support with census completion. You can ask them for help too. 
  • More information about how to complete the census is at: www.census.gov.scot 
  • Help and support is available in other languages and formats, including Gaelic, Braille and large print. 

What is the Census? 

The Census is the official count of every person and household in Scotland. The census usually takes place every 10 years (it’s a year later than usual because of the Covid-19 pandemic). 

By asking people who live in Scotland to provide information about themselves and where they live, the Scottish Government and other public bodies can make decisions about how public money is spent on services that are needed by communities. 

Make sure you are counted as part of this census – access support if you need it. 

Watch the video explainer about what the Census is, and why it’s important.

Support our efforts

Dyslexia Scotland is striving for a society that is welcoming and inclusive for everyone – but of course our particular focus is dyslexia and neurodiversity. We’ll take every opportunity we can to work with other organisations and help them to be more inclusive of dyslexic thinking and processing.  

Help us sustain our efforts to build a dyslexia-friendly Scotland. 

Join us as a member today or make a donation to support our work.

View and share our plan for a dyslexia-friendly Scotland.

The journey to a dyslexia-friendly Scotland was published on 10 March 2022

My Neurodiversity Journey Part 3

Autistic & Dyslexic Blog

Thank you for the feedback and positive comments from my first two blogs (see these here: part 1, part 2).

Some of you have visualised, heard and felt the shock, regret, the “ah ha” moments along with the laughs, on realising my ability to sprinkle bewilderment in many environments/situations. You may have experienced the same.

Environments

Different environments are not all accommodating for us neurodivergent people given our daily sensory challenges. Having personal boundaries, whether imposed by ourselves, parents, carer or significant other, is not selfish; its wisdom and self-care. They are essential, normal and healthy behaviours.

As a Neurodivergent with learning disabilities I’m constantly on guard to minimise sensory challenges that could cause “Panic Attacks” ,“Situational Mutism”, “Shutdowns”, “Meltdowns” or “Burnouts” that can last for weeks, months or years.

They are all totally involuntary as we all know. Having experienced of all the above; I am conscious of being hyper-vigilant with a cost benefit situation regarding all environments/situations.

This statement from the Inspirational speaker & trainer Alexander Den Heijer is something that I am constantly aware of: –

When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”

Overwhelm, is our enemy due to having a different operating system; it is not a processing error. Hyper-vigilance is a coping strategy whether conscious or subconsciously; however, this behaviour / awareness can bring increased anxiety and is a huge energy drainer.

Mark Twain said, “the two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”  Personally, for me it was the day I was born and the day I found out I was Autistic and Dyslexic. Finding out your own “why” is liberating, you may find with total congruence with mind body aligned; your own unique identity and purpose.

Behaviours

Moving on from environments; what behaviours do we wish to experience in the different aspects of our lives however expansive or limited they may be? An Autistic neurodivergent person in the appropriate environment can flourish and meet or exceed our own and others’ expectations. The reverse can be disastrous.

Behaviours are the strongest form of communication; the experts say of all communication only 7% are words; 38% is tone of voice and 55% is body language.

I am reminded of Sir Prof Simon Baron–Cohen; world leading expert in Autism at Cambridge University, who tweeted on 5th July 2019:-

 “So important for policy makers to understand: 45% of autistic adults said they’d had a period without enough money to meet basic needs; 20% of autistic adults who had been in a relationship had been sexual abused by a partner and 70% said they’d been bullied by someone they thought was a friend”

Bullying has been a most unpleasant experience for most of us on the spectrum in different times in our lives and in a variety of environments leaving the autistic neurodivergent person traumatised.

At school, I personally didn’t learn much that prepared me for an autistic life (although unknown to me and others I was autistic) I was just thick and stupid, as I wrote in previous blogs.

Learning about Pythagoras & Archimedes re 3.14 equals to 22/7 was futile – I was not born to understand these fine chap’s theories. However, life skills would have been more important and appropriate.

Personality traits and behaviours in the real world of other people and their agendas would have prepared me better for late teenage/adult life, providing more awareness with heightened skills to cope in the neurotypical world. Like most Autistic people I take everything that is said literally, which can lead to all sorts of difficulties and unpleasantness. I’m poor at hearing sarcasm and the nuances on the verbal word. This opens us up too many different types of abuse as Baron–Cohen stated above.

Why & how? Well, we naively assume everyone is like us, i.e. honest, maybe too direct at times and have no reason to lie. Unfortunately, the NT world is full of games. Life/human patterns of behaviour is part of daily living.

When I hear a word, phrase, gesture or event I consider three questions: –

1st Event: – Makes it plausible it could happen again.

2nd Event: – Increases plausibility of it happening again. People intend to infer that there is a probability it will happen again.

3rd Event: – This is now no longer a probability………This is now a reality – it’s who they are. Reality is what you tolerate.

How many times do you take to recognise a pattern? What action will you take? Harvard Business Review says that the first commandment of leadership is this: “Know thyself.”

At times we have to take responsibly for our own journey, setting boundaries, ensuring the environments and behaviours are accommodating and supportive of our unique skill set.

Environments that live by the Social Model of Disability, i.e. accommodating disability, with optimal outcomes. In contrast to the Medical Model of Disability, is a problem that needs to be fixed.

Until the next article, stay safe and be kind to yourself and gentle to those around you.

David Yeoman – Blogger & Volunteer; Scottish Autism, Contributor @ Autism Advisory Forum, Consultant for Dyslexia Scotland.

Volunteering in 2022

As we emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic, what will the next year hold for voluntary organisations? Volunteering has been a mixed picture throughout the past two years of the pandemic. Across the country, many more people got involved in informal volunteering to help those in their communities during the lockdowns – from helping shielding neighbours with shopping or prescription drop offs to volunteering to telephone people who were feeling very isolated. It was unfortunate that many groups/services supported by volunteers were unable to meet due to the lockdowns. In some cases, it was easy enough to move meetings/events online, but many people agree that it’s not quite the same as meeting in-person.  

This situation across the country has been mirrored in Dyslexia Scotland. We were able to move many of our services/events/meetings online and the volunteers attached to those activities were able to volunteer from home (mostly via Zoom):

  • Our Helpline volunteers were supported to continue to run the Helpline from their homes;
  • Our Branches were able to run many of their meetings/events online;
  • Our Adult Network facilitators were able to facilitate our adult network meetings online;
  • Our Career Mentor Volunteers were able to continue supporting clients via telephone and online;
  • Our Ambassadors and Young Ambassadors were able to continue a proportion of their work online;
  • Our Board member volunteers were able to hold quarterly meetings, the annual review day and Members Day/AGM online.

However, it was much harder for some of our volunteers to continue volunteering in the way that they had been doing before the pandemic. For example, we normally have around twenty volunteers helping at our annual education conference in a variety of roles, but because the conference has been online for the past two years, less volunteers were needed to support this event.

I am hopeful that as restrictions are being lifted and as people start to get used to the ‘new normal’, we’ll be able to run some in-person meetings/events in 2022. I look forward to supporting our Events volunteers, who have been on a hiatus for some time, to help at some in-person events as the year goes on. And I’m sure many of our other volunteers who have continued volunteering online for the past two years will be really keen to get back to meeting people in-person again.

The pandemic has proved to be a real revelation into just what volunteering can continue online and I feel humbled and immensely proud of all of our amazing volunteers who have continued volunteering (or supported us in other ways while on hiatus), throughout a challenging time for us all. A thousand thank yous to them all!

Although, we’re not quite at the stage of recruiting new volunteers at the moment, please do keep an eye on our volunteering page for an imminent volunteering role advert and have a look for some opportunities that you can do from home to raise awareness of dyslexia.

Helen Fleming, Volunteers Manager

Dyslexia and Parliament

The journalist Alan Watkins often said, ‘Politics is a rough old trade’, and many people recall Harold Wilson’s remark, ‘A week in politics is a long time.’  We know what they mean.  

Dyslexia has featured in UK political discourse for years, and political perspectives have changed.  Not too long ago, an MP was on record denying the very existence of dyslexia.   Yet, assuming that our parliaments are representative of the population and working on the statistic that some 10% of the population is dyslexic, perhaps 60+ MPs and a dozen or so MSPs are dyslexic.  When you reckon that tenacity is a side effect of dyslexia, and dyslexics have to put up with being criticised, belittled, nagged, made fun of, we might seem to be an ideal group to provide candidates to stand for Parliament.

Astonishingly, it is the disgraced Westminster ex-Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, who has just moved dyslexia up the political agenda.  Now on the back benches, in December he introduced a Bill in the House of Commons that would make it mandatory to test all English and Welsh children for dyslexia before secondary school.  It was passed and comes up for a Second Reading in March 2022.  One hopes that the Bill becomes law in England and Wales, and if so, that Holyrood would enact a similar mandate. Scotland already has more highly tuned practices for identifying neurodiversity amongst primary school children than might be found south of the border, although even these are not consistently implemented.

So, Hancock’s initiative has raised broad issues.   When he made his proposal for a Dyslexia Screening Bill (https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-12-07/debates/19032173-7175-48BD-A28C-EAE9A6332D0F/DyslexiaScreening#contribution-557A02A2-56C8-4BAB-87B7-30B33A0150D1)  he spoke about his own difficulties at school, and how it was only when he went to university (to Oxford!), that he was assessed and found to be dyslexic.  What Matt Hancock means by ‘screening’ was not clarified in the first reading of his Bill but it indicates an important first step.   When would the ‘screening’ take place?  Surely, we dyslexics would say, the earlier the better and, when the child’s dyslexia is identified, the right type of teaching for that child’s learning needs can swing into action – at primary school, or rather at all primary schools.  

Let’s think for a moment about ‘lies, damned lies…and statistics.’   Recent statistics have shown that the number of state secondary school pupils across the UK with additional support needs has been falling, but in private schools the number has been rising.  Odd that.  We don’t know the details for every school, every youngster and every parent, but my guess is that the parents of youngsters at private schools are particularly adept at getting the needs of their children attended to.  These parents are insistent that the proper assessments take place.  I suspect that the average parent of a state school pupil, who isn’t paying for their child’s education ‘at the point of delivery’, may be less aware of children’s learning needs in general, and perhaps less skilful in pushing to get their own child’s needs addressed.  For many children, if these learning needs are not identified early, life chances might be lost completely – the intervention of an observant tutor at university would simply never happen for them.  University would never be an option.  

The issues of funding pressures on state and private schools are different too.   The funding has to go alongside Mr Hancock’s mandate, I’d say.

My perusal of what goes on in discussions about dyslexia in both Westminster and Holyrood shows that ‘spelling’ is mentioned very often.  I hope that the proposed mandatory ‘screening’ happens very soon, but that issues beyond spelling, those linked by dyslexia to ADHD, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia are screened for, too.  We should be delighted that things are happening, but we must continue to press for the necessary changes to happen.   

Vin Arthey, guest blogger and Dyslexia Scotland Speaker Volunteer

Rocking Dyslexia

I’ve found being dyslexic incredibly frustrating, comical, upsetting, and positive at various points of my life. I’m Jess, a geologist researcher, with a BSc and PhD from the University of Aberdeen. I love the outdoors, but I always dreaded reading, writing and public speaking- all of which I do regularly now (and enjoy!).

School Experiences

At the age of eight I was identified with dyslexia and received learning support classes throughout primary and secondary school. At primary school I still remember wishing I could read the Jacqueline Wilson books my classmates were enjoying, rather than the ‘Biff and Chip’ books with about twenty words to a page I was given. Towards the end of Primary school, I was lucky that my parents bought me some of the first Harry Potter audiobooks for Christmas. Read by Stephen Fry, I would listen to those books on repeat, occasionally reading along, so much so that almost all of those cassette tapes and CDs were repaired with several pieces of cellotape each or covered in scratches. Audiobooks were a window to worlds I had been wishing to have access to for such a long time, and still to this day I listen to them and other podcasts daily.

At high school I found attending learning support classes more frustrating and I particularly disliked being pulled out of the 15-minute morning registration to attend them, though I am grateful for their support now. After a bit of a rough start at high school, I began to try harder and found more satisfaction in learning, particularly enjoying Geography, History and Product Design classes. I still struggled in English and vividly remember finding it near impossible to write a 300-word essay on a topic of my choice. However, with the encouragement of teachers, family and learning support I achieved seven Highers and one Advanced Higher.

University and PhD

I was lucky enough to get into university, initially to study Geography. Within the first few weeks I had yet another round of tests for my learning support, where I was told I had moderate-severe dyslexia as well as dysgraphia (which I had never even heard of!). Throughout my undergraduate degree, I found several moments difficult but particularly enjoyed my Geology classes, with lots of field trips, microscope work and where being descriptive and scientific was far more important than your ability to write an essay. I was also incredibly fortunate to have a few dyslexic friends which really helped normalised dyslexia further.

I changed my degree from Geography to Geology towards the end of my second year, as I had done the prerequisite courses. I particularly found my feet by the fourth and final year and LOVED my dissertation which involved seven weeks geological mapping on the remote Scottish Isle of Rum, and later an associated written report. While the writing was hard, again it was more descriptive, scientific and interpretive, so worked far better for my brain and overall, I received a first class degree.

When I started my PhD I was of course worried, like most people are, about writing my thesis. I was lucky to have a topic I loved, studying the ancient (60-million-year-old!) lava flows of the Isle of Mull, and while again I thrived during the fieldwork, writing was daunting. However, little by little I got the words down and found getting my figures/images together first helped me with the necessary text. The more I wrote of my thesis the easier it became. While never plain sailing, it all came together – all 300+ pages! And though quality is far more important than quantity, I still must remind myself I’ve come a long way in the 14 years since I seriously struggled to write 300 words in High School.

Learning more about my dyslexia

Over the years, I’ve learnt more about how my dyslexia and dysgraphia affect me. To me, I often think of my brain as a messy room- everything is there, but I don’t know whether it is in a drawer, under the bed or in the cupboard. I often struggle to find the right wording while writing and speaking, which can be annoying at times. Dyslexia affects me far more than just bad spelling, but the older I get the easier it is, not because it impacts me less but because I am better at managing it.

Having dyslexia may be incredibly frustrating, and at times upsetting, but for me I do believe it has been a massive positive in my life and it has helped me get to where I am today. When you must work consistently that little bit harder, it becomes the norm and as a result I became willing and eager to work hard. I love my job, the work, and the daily challenges I face. I truly believe having dyslexia, and the support I have received through the years by so many, has instilled a positive work ethic and drive which I am grateful to have.

What helped me most with my dyslexia:

  • Supportive family & friends: my parents always made me believe that dyslexia should never hold me back, and my friends would always help me see the funny side of my spelling mistakes, while still being supportive and there for informal proof reading. I’ve had my fair share of people who have been unkind or unsupportive of my dyslexia, however, its about surrounding yourself with the right people and not giving up!
  • Supportive education: at times I may have resented being treated differently from my peers but those hours of extra support have certainly helped me! Endlessly grateful, for all the exam readers, proof readers and learning support staff through the years.
  • Audio books & podcasts: never to be underestimated, I was able to enjoy books, subconsciously improve my vocabulary and sentence structure all while enjoying a story.
  • A laptop which reads my written work back to me: invaluable for my university studies (just wish I had it sooner) helps me daily to write, spot my spelling/grammar errors and read sections of text/papers/websites when I feel I need the extra support. I had my laptop read this blog aloud to me several times as I typed it. 
  • I Google a word for spelling when spell check is no help: Even now I often struggle to find the correct spelling for some words, especially in geology, so a simple google (occasionally with some context) and I almost always find the right spelling.
  • Practice & time: the most annoying one, but there is no quick fix, and at the age of 27 I am still learning and improving daily. With each challenge I improve, and while many things don’t necessarily come naturally that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t do them!
  • Acceptance: while at many points I hated being different, such as the extra classes, the lower expectations of my abilities from others, being given sheets in a different font to my peers, sitting exams alone… the list goes on. Dyslexia is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. So many people are dyslexic, and you may be surprised with who else you know or may meet in the future have it too.

Lastly, my message to any dyslexic would be while there are many challenges to dyslexia, having dyslexia is by no means always a negative. There are many things you can do and you will likely surprise yourself if you try and have the right support in place! As a teen I once heard someone describe dyslexic people as “stupid & lazy”. I couldn’t disagree more (though at the time I said nothing). Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence, & certainly all the dyslexics I know work exceptionally hard to achieve what they have! If these personal stories illustrate anything it is that you CAN get to where you want to be!

Dr. Jess Pugsley, Guest Blogger

Dyslexia-friendly Scotland – our journey so far

The end of a year is inevitably a time to reflect, to consider how far we’ve come, and to look ahead.

Looking back

As Dyslexia Scotland says goodbye to 2021, we also close our current strategic plan. In the last three years, our small but well-formed organisation has: 

  • Moved to larger premises
  • Adapted our services in response to the constraints of a pandemic
  • Established a tutor bursary fund to support dyslexic children and young people
  • Delivered professional learning for teachers in dyslexia and inclusive practice
  • Hosted Scotland’s first dyslexia festival
  • Achieved a commendation in the national Learning for Sustainability Awards
  • And renewed our Investing in Volunteers award. This accolade recognises our expertise in supporting and co-ordinating over 160 volunteers to deliver the vital work of our organisation.

These are just a few of the major milestones we’ve reached along our journey. Between these, we’ve had interactions with many thousands of individuals. Although these have often been brief, we know that the advice and guidance we’ve provided has made a big difference to each of them. 

We’re taking a moment to rest now, look back on the distance travelled, and feel a sense of pride and satisfaction. But we also know that we can continue to learn, grow and improve as an organisation.

Looking ahead

So, as the sun rises on 2022, we’ll be ready to continue our journey. We’ve charted the course, and we’re on our way to a dyslexia-friendly Scotland. But are we nearly there yet? And how will we know when we get there? And what can we achieve along the way?

These are the questions we asked of ourselves, the dyslexic community in Scotland, and the changemakers who strive to be dyslexia inclusive in their settings. The answers helped us to map the way forward.

We’re excited to begin this new leg of the journey, and we invite you to be a part of it.
Dyslexia-friendly Scotland, here we come. Look out for our new strategy for 2022-2025 in the new year. 

In the meantime, if you want to support us on our journey to a dyslexia-friendly Scotland, become a member or make a donation to help sustain our vital work. 

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