Following the announcement in May that plans for the first International Celebration of Dyslexia (ICD) are underway for August 2020 (see here for the initial article, and here for the event web page), I have pondered why such an event might be needed. Most obviously, the scale of the proposed event invites greater capacity for a large exchange of experiences and ideas that could not only help those with dyslexia practically, but also encourage them to view the learning difference positively. Organisers claim that the inaugural ICD is unique in that it views dyslexia as a gift to be used to the benefit of everyone, rather than the curse it is seen to be by some.
As is proven by the diverse range of celebrities that happen to have dyslexia – Sir Richard Branson, Theo Paphitis of Dragon’s Den and Molie King, formerly a member of The Saturdays – are all people in the public who have dyslexia and have been asked to contribute – it is not necessarily a barrier to great achievements. However, an argument can be made that these success stories may appear unattainable to the general public and of course it might be that people have other, less lofty, ambitions that seem just as mountainous and unrealistic to them as a result of their dyslexia. The wider the variety of different perspectives that you hear, the more potential there is to gain a new insight into a situation, which is all the more likely when you consider the international scope that organisers want the event to have. Furthermore, given the ethos that organisers of the gathering are doing their upmost to promote even in the initial stages – The International Celebration of Dyslexia can hardly be described as negative – I can see even the event’s mere existence doing a great deal of good for the self-esteem of those who have dyslexia, and that’s without taking into account the positives for those who attend the event. I would imagine that attendees may come away with greater knowledge of not just of dyslexia itself but of how exactly dyslexia can be seen as an advantage. After all, it could be said that as no two people see something exactly the same way, attendees could leave with a new appreciation for the learning difference because while they may view it as a positive it doesn’t mean they see all the positives and may need some help to shine a light on the larger picture.
Although I have already stated that not all people see dyslexia as a good thing, I should add that this is a perfectly valid stance. Everyone has different experiences of it depending on their circumstances and how severely they are affected. Still, it stands to reason that regardless of the viewpoints held all those with dyslexia stand to gain something from the event, which is due to take place on 31st August 2020. Just because some people who have dyslexia see the learning difference as a curse, it doesn’t mean that positives could not be gleaned from an event such as this one. At the very least, the international aspect would heartily underline the fact that people with dyslexia are neither alone nor few in number. Moreover, it would also highlight the universal nature of dyslexia and cultivate not just the strengths of the participants for their good and the good of others but strengthen the perception that dyslexia and those who have it do not need to be subjected to discrimination and stigma and that just because learning differences should be celebrated it does not mean they always are. Never mind (just) Sir Richard, Theo and Mollie, it’s something we should all get behind, in the hope that diversity is more routinely celebrated rather than somehow misunderstood and marginalised.
Gemma Bryant, DS Blogger
If you can’t wait until August 2020, we will be holding Scotland’s first ever Dyslexia Festival – ‘DyslexiFest’ on Saturday 5 October 2019 at The Lighthouse in Glasgow. At this event, we will be celebrating and supporting all things dyslexic. We’re currently finalising our plans, but you can see more information here. #DyslexiFest