Education Conference – a volunteer’s perspective

I attended this year’s Dyslexia Education Conference in Dundee as a volunteer interviewer, on behalf of Dyslexia Scotland. This was my first real ‘Dyslexia Awareness Event’ and in all honesty when I entered, I was rather overwhelmed. Surely not all of these people were here for the conference? There had to be something else going on simultaneously I thought. However as I bumped into everyone on the way, I became apparent that this was certainly a more popular subject of interest than I had originally thought.

After being introduced to my one-person technical crew of Sara, another volunteer and the social media manager in her day job, I dumped by baggage for the day and set out with my q-cards.

After some mingling in the mezzanine, we were ushered into a lecture theatre by the staff and volunteers who had taken on the massive responsibility of ensuring that everything went to plan. A welcome introduction was given followed by some very interesting talks. Whilst each speaker took the stage and expressed what they or their organisation had done or was doing to work with those with dyslexia to the best of their ability, I genuinely began to become more and more interested and inspired.

They say that when someone is passionate about what they do then that it exudes from them and other people catch onto it – I think that is exactly what happened here. I didn’t even think of some of the obstacles which people with dyslexia had to face particularly in primary schools since when I was growing up, there was very little awareness and it was almost a taboo subject. But now, it was heartwarming to see all the good intentions and existing support which people with dyslexia had. Although it was clear that society still has more that they can offer as well as the government, particularly the government.

I might have overlooked the flip book aspect of my q-cards because I kept losing the organisation’s aimed questions within the flip book and then by the time I was ready, Sara would be like “Naina, they’ve gone”… what a team! I had a lot in common with Sara, I also liked the fact she was very critical of the support which was offered to those with dyslexia in her secondary school, as this is a point I had raised myself in the past, so it was nice to be on the same page.

 As a social media manager, Sara knew what she was talking about when she approached the people and they seemed happy enough to talk, we positioned ourselves, asked, fixed the zoom, the lighting, the sound etc. until the potential interviewee sighed impatiently and began to hunt for an escape route but we had to get in there before they changed their minds.

The ones we did get were good, so I was pleased. I was also pleased with my own performance to be honest, I prefer staying in front of the camera rather than behind because I’m impatient and technology pressurises me. So I was glad I didn’t have to deal with that for once.

We spoke to both exhibitors and delegates about what brought them to the conference, their experiences, the importance of dyslexia awareness and their products. I was quite surprised by how many teachers had turned up, especially considering it was a Saturday! Although I did initially think that they would all be learning support teachers, so it was great to see how many classroom teachers cared enough about their pupils to sacrifice their own free time to learn more about what they could do to help.

After going around interviewing every one of the exhibitors, lunch was served and after grabbing some extra donuts from the cloakroom, we then realised that since people were most likely to have finished their lunch by now, we should begin filming some more delegate interviews so we decided that we would just make eye contact with people until they were left with no other option than to talk to us! We got a few of these, a couple of interviews with our very own Dyslexia Scotland staff and an advertisement, all in the space of ten minutes!

The Dyslexia Education Conference was definitely an event I would attend again as it was a pleasant surprise since conferences are usually incredibly dull, however, this one seemed to have a very enlightening atmosphere.  

Naina Bhardwaj

 

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