Why does Universal Design matter?

What impact can Universal Design have on the experiences of disabled and neurodivergent talent?

In this podcast episode, we explore this through the eyes of Cory Quigley - a neurodivergent person working in the Human Services field. As Cory  shares his experiences of growing up and working with ADHD and Dyslexia, he also highlights how he feels educators and employers can improve the experience for neurodivergent people.

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We hope you enjoyed this episode of Texthelp Talks.

As we mentioned, Cory has kindly written a blog containing 6 key facts he wishes people knew about neurodiversity. Have a read and gain even more insight into how to make the education and workplace settings more inclusive of neurodiversity.


Joni Degner (00:16):

Hello everyone, I’m Joni Degner from Texthelp. Welcome to the latest episode of the Texthelp Talks podcast - your space online to listen, learn and explore disability inclusion. This season, we’ve been focusing on Universal Design.

Today, you’ll be hearing from my colleague, Abby Corrigan who will be joined by Cory Quigley. Cory is neurodivergent and is currently working in the Human Services field. Today, he will be sharing his experiences in both education and the world of work. As he shares his story of growing up and working with ADHD and Dyslexia, he will also highlight how he feels educators and employers can improve the experience for neurodivergent people. And of course, we’ll be taking a look at the impact of Universal Design.

After their chat, as always, we’ll leave with 1 thing to know, 1 thing to do and 1 thing to think about. Abby, over to you.

Abby Corrigan (1:15):

Thanks Joni for the introduction. And Cory, it's great to have you on the podcast today.

Cory Quigley (1:20):

Thank you. Thank you, Abby. Thank you for having me.

Abby Corrigan (1:24):

No worries. So I guess before we begin, would you like to tell our listeners a bit more about yourself?

Cory Quigley (1.30):

Maybe first tell you a bit about some of my training background, I guess.

Abby Corrigan (1.36):


Cory Quigley (01:37):

And then go from there with it, if that's okay. So I actually have quite a bit of training. Originally, when I went through school, I didn't go after high school kind of a thing into secondary and stuff. I wanted to become a forest ranger, but I didn't do so well at it. I had too much fun when I was away from the house. That didn't go so well, unfortunately, so I didn't get the marks I needed to go into that. Because I love the outdoors, but I didn't get the marks to go into it. But I did have enough marks to go into diesel mechanic, and so that's where I went in. I went into factory work after that and I wasn't happy with, really, either of those.


I like things that challenge me. I'm kind of a deep thinker and I like people puzzles, if you will, and so I wanted to go back to school. Originally, I wanted to go into education, but I was scared for a number of reasons. One, that I didn't think I was capable of it, and two, because I was a little afraid. The lamb into the lions den from my perspective, anyhow, because school wasn't always my favorite place. I didn't think I was a good learner. I thought I was defective in some fashion or another, or what have you. But as I grew older, I found out that I actually love learning. And I'm a voracious learner, quite frankly. I'm always delving into a variety of different topics. So I went on from working at a factory into a college so I could get my social work diploma and my addictions counseling diploma.


So I achieved both of those. Excuse me. That was my next step. And from that, of course, you have placements with those diplomas. Myself and my wife moved to BC for my addictions counseling diploma. I got a placement in Downtown Vancouver, and that was a wonderful learning experience. I've never been addicted to anything, not narcotics or alcohol or anything like that. It was a great learning experience and I got to work very closely with the fellas. I did some group work with them and I learned a lot from them. I've many experiences like that where I've had the opportunity to learn from people and just see different perspectives.


So anyhow, I didn't stick with the addictions counseling. There was actually quite a bit of writing in that. You had to write verbatim what the client was talking, what their experience was through your counseling session. I couldn't keep up with it, so that was difficult. So anyhow, I went on to become a teacher's assistant, basically, a TA. Did that for a number of years. And then, I went back to school and I got my education degree in which I graduated with distinction from that. Very proud of that. Oh, it was great.

Abby Corrigan (05:06):

Yeah, that's actually quite amazing because earlier there, you sort of said that you didn't have a good experience at school, you didn't think that you were a great learner. And then all of a sudden, throughout your adulthood, you've discovered that you actually have a real love for learning. So much then that you became a teacher yourself, which is absolutely brilliant.

Cory Quigley (05:25):


Abby Corrigan (05:26):

And I suppose what maybe changed during that time, or why do you think?

Cory Quigley (05:34):

Why do I think I started to enjoy learning?

Abby Corrigan (05:36):


Cory Quigley (05:37):

I don't know. The further I got away from some of those experiences I had as a younger child ... The school of hard knocks is a great teacher sometimes. If you choose to take the lessons for what they are, because you can become stuck in ... and I have been ... that sort of victim mentality or that trauma triangle. A victim, persecutor, or rescuer, and you can get stuck in that a little bit. Or you can choose to see that your adversaries are your greatest teachers. They teach you what you want, what you don't want, what you should fight for, which I go of. And it's not about win or lose. It's about learn and grow, right?


So if you start to perceive things as learning opportunities ... and they're not always nice opportunities ... but so long as you come out of it and you learn something from it and you've grown from it, great. And you start to realize that ... The only person I have control over is myself, right? And so I guess that's some of the changes that had to happen. I had to get out of that stuck place into a different place. Because I identify most dyslexia. I have ADHD as well, but dyslexia is my main one that I identify with. But if you get out of that stuck place and start to see things, perceive things that way, it's better. I've always been a voracious learner. I just never recognized it that way. Some of this catchphrase ... Oops, sorry.

Abby Corrigan (07:46):

No, don't worry. I was just going to say I suppose maybe that it's a good point to kind of explore your experiences at school a little bit, just to give a bit more context around when you're talking about feeling stuck in the place. What was your experience at school then? What kind of led you down to sort of feel those feelings.

Cory Quigley (08:15):

Excuse me. I didn't have a good experience in school, unfortunately. My experience was fairly negative. I was put in a special ed class in grade two. Most people when you go to school, you have a grade one teacher, a grade two teacher, a grade three teacher, a grade four, and so on and so forth throughout your school up until grade 12, basically. You have a series of different teachers, right? And you'll have teachers that are fantastic. And the vast majority of teachers are fantastic people with big hearts, right? They have to be to go through and be a teacher.


But sometimes, you find some turkeys, unfortunately. And if you're stuck with a special ed kid, you can get stuck with them for a big chunk. So I went in in grade two, but I was stuck with this particular teacher until grade six because we had elementary, middle years, and then high school at that particular time. And she was, quite frankly, abusive is the best I can say. Both physically and emotionally. There's a lot of anxiety. You're kids. It's scary and you don't want to stand out and you're shy and yada yada. Hard to believe that maybe I was shy! I've talked with you a lot. But I did have a degree of that in that anxiety and apprehension, and stuff like that. Like I said, nobody wants to stand out.


But whenever I go back home to visit and stuff like that, I'll talk to people because I'm very social. Well, it's a love/hate talking to people. I love talking to people, but then I always worry about what I've said because I have diarrhea of the mouth sometimes. I just keep talking, so I worry. But however, they always talk about how strict this woman was. "Oh, you had her as a teacher? Wasn't she strict?" But strict, sometimes, is a euphemism for abusive, right? And so, she was. She was verbally that way. I mean, she would call us stupid or slow or broken, or whatever. Various things. Overt things that she would say and covert things. And that's true today. I mean, some of that stuff still happens. I've taught, so I know that, unfortunately, some of that happens. The vast majority of teachers, like I say, are fantastic. But there are still some things that people talk about.


Anyhow, I was stuck with her for that time. The one good thing that she did that I have to say was a positive is she did a lot of Bible readings. We're a public school, so you don't typically get that. I mean, I'm 53 years old or something like that. So back then, they used to do some of those things in class. Not so much in the mainstream, but in our class, anyhow, they did it. And that was a good thing. That, I think, really helped me out quite a bit. My belief system has changed and developed over the years, but that initial belief in something ... a belief in a higher power, if you will ... was very important to me at the time. And I think it's very important to people in general. So it was valuable, right. Sorry.

Abby Corrigan (12:11):

No, it's okay. Earlier there, you said that whenever you were in the special ed class, no one likes to feel like you stand out. Is that how you felt when you were put in there?

Cory Quigley (12:23):

Yes, exactly. Even adults don't like to stand out, much less kids. Yeah, nobody likes to stand out, and that's exactly what you do. So you're taking kids out of the general population, and whether you say it directly, or like I say, covertly, you're sort of indicating that they're broken in some fashion or another and not as good as, and that stands out. Kids can be quite cruel when you're young. They will tease you, particularly if you're different in any fashion. If you have acne, for crying out loud, they'll tease you. Or you dare to wear a different hairstyle, or whatever. Those are mild compared to if you're special ... We call it disabled, but I'm not disabled by any fact. I've got average to above average intelligence. Well, I know I have above average intelligence, but however. I don't know. As teachers, we all know not to teach below the kids' abilities because of the messages. I mean, we're taught that, right? And yet, we do that with kids that are of varying needs all the time. That was the thing.


"Oh, well God help you if you should struggle. You don't want them to struggle at all." I don't agree with that. I think you don't want to beat them over the head with things, but you do have to challenge them, and you do have to push them in a positive way. I watched a really good video about a young woman with Down syndrome, and she wanted to become, to go into gymnastics. The coach that got her pushes her really hard, more so than what her parents expected that she would. And it works fabulously for her. She's doing wonderful in gymnastics. I mean, our overall perception of what people are capable of is skewed, right?

Abby Corrigan (15:06):


Cory Quigley (15:08):

We have a tendency to judge people by our own measure, if you will, and I think that we've made mistakes throughout history with that. We just tend to devalue what people are capable of, and people are capable of anything if you challenge them to do it.

Abby Corrigan (15:31):

And I guess that's the thing. There is a lot of stigma that surrounds neurodiversity and dyslexia, ADHD.

Cory Quigley (15:38):


Abby Corrigan (15:39):

And you've just said it there. You don't view yourself as disabled. And in fact, neurodiversity, it's just another form of human diversity. We are all neurodiverse.

Cory Quigley (15:47):


Abby Corrigan (15:48):

Everybody's different whether you're neurodivergent, neurotypical. So I suppose that's where the universal design comes in. It's just viewing that everybody has a difference. Everybody's different, and we just need to create environments that cater to that.

Cory Quigley (16:05):

And we're designed to work together. The neurodiverse and the neurotypical are two peas in the pod. They're designed specifically to be paired together in some fashion or another. I believe this, personally. It's kind of like ... I don't know. I start talking about popcorning because that's how I think. I start to popcorn. And if I start popcorning, and there's no pot to contain me, then you lose kernels. Some of those kernels are good ones. You don't want to lose those. That's good material, right? They're not all good. I mean, some of them don't pop and some of them only half pop. And you might break a tooth on it, so be careful about that. But most of them are really good stuff. That's my neurodiverse way of thinking. And the neurotypical person is the pot with a lid, right? And they contain you! If you can get those two to pair up together, they work fabulous together if there's that understanding.


Now, people might say, "Well, you should be able to contain yourself," and they're right. You do have to. But let's work to each other's gifts. The neurotypical have a tendency to finish one task completely at a time, and that organization is what a neurodiverse person needs help with. So if we can pair those two together, we're like a dream team, and accept each other for who we are. But we've been told that we're different, that one is better than the other, that kind of stuff. And like I said, that's happened through history, where we view another culture even and we say, "Oh. You're doing it that way? We're superior to you because we're doing it this way," or whatever. And stuff happened like that, unfortunately, but we're born to be together.

Abby Corrigan (18:18):

Yeah. That does bring us back very nicely to our whole overarching theme with the universal design. I know we've touched on this in previous episodes. But for anybody that's sort of missed that, universal design for learning is a framework that, essentially, it's an approach that understands that every person is different. Every learner, every worker is different. It's a view where we change our learning environments and working environments to suit every single person. We don't change the people that are in them. So we have to create places that accommodates different types of thinking, learning, and working so that just that, neurodiverse learners and teams and everybody can thrive together side by side. And with that in mind, no one then is made to feel singled out or different. Everybody's championed and celebrated for exactly who they are. And I suppose when you think back to your experience at school, if you had been taught in an environment like that, do you think that would've made a more positive experience for you?

Cory Quigley (19:21):

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. One, you're not taking the kid out of the classroom. Two, that's just what inclusion is supposed to be about. You're supposed to be inclusive and bring all those different ways of thinking together. I'm a firm believer in multiple intelligence, and there's value in that. I mean, I've been in this system as a neurodiverse person, but I've also done a variety of different jobs and had a variety of different experiences with people with varying abilities and different mindsets. I've never found anybody that doesn't have a gift or something to bring to the table. We all do. And so something like that is about blending that all together. I mean, there's no one model that does everything, of course. But if we keep ourselves open to things, rather than categorizing things like we have a tendency to do, and see the benefits in people, and try to understand ... I think sometimes it's a lack of understanding. I don't know. Your model is trying to encourage understanding and trying to see people from not your lens, but from the individuals' lens, if you will, right?

Abby Corrigan (21:11):


Cory Quigley (21:12):

I'm neurodiverse, but I'm trying to pretend I'm a neurotypical. And I'm not neurotypical, I'm neurodiverse. I have a lot of gifts and I want those gifts celebrated. I need to be able to celebrate them for myself. That whole "try to train a fish to climb a tree" kind of a deal.

Abby Corrigan (21:36):

I think you have hit the nail head there as well, where you talk about it's all about understanding, because it really is. We, at Texthelp, did some research recently into the experiences of neurodivergent people in the workplace. And when we carried out that survey, 61% have said that they've experienced stigma in their workplace at some point in their careers. That all is all down to understanding and awareness of neurodiversity. So would you be surprised by that statistic, or is this something that you can relate to yourself?

Cory Quigley (22:15):

No, yeah. Not at all. I mean, if you look at the statistics on bullying, the neurodiverse individuals are corrected two to three times more and bullied two to three times more, or something like that, anyhow. So it's not a shocking figure at all, really. Like I said, I've worked in this field for a long time, and so I've seen a lot of that myself. I've experienced a lot of that, whether that's in the work environment, school environment, or in general, particularly if you start to talk about it. I've also spoken to colleagues that are neurodiverse and they've also equated that as well, or something similar to that.


And I say that ... sorry for jostling things here, sorry ... I know that sounds negative and it is, but that's in part because it's not intentional. It's just that we haven't had that experience. I have an invisible disability. If you take a look at me, you can't tell for the most part unless I say something. But you might suspect something because I kind of go on, right? I chat a lot. I give away a lot. However, for the most part, you're not going to know. If I don't say anything and I just don't get into things too deep, keep it casual, you wouldn't have a clue. So if you're saying, "Oh, can you write this out for me?" Yeah, I can write it. It's going to be sloppy as heck and there's going to be all sorts of spelling mistakes.


Then, you start to pick up on it and you're saying, "Okay. I mean, you can have these conversations," and I like getting into deep conversations about things. I really do. About politics and social issues and stuff. I love those conversations. Most people don't, but I'm very interested in those puzzles and trying to make change. I love doing that. Anyhow, I'm derailing myself here. But the fact is you wouldn't know, and so it takes people aback a little bit. "What's going on there?" and you kind of get suspicious of it. I think sometimes that we that's do. And then, we've been told wrong messages. I mean, we're told by the DSM that they're broken, basically. That as neurodiverse, we're broken people or we're disabled, and I'm not disabled.


We were talking about that glasses thing, and I know that's one that's out there, right? People without glasses, if you weren't allowed to wear your glasses, you would be literally considered disabled, right? And there's so many people that have glasses. Now, we have this technology ... Wow! You guys have tons of technology that you're coming up with and that you're putting out there for the neurodiverse. Those types of things are our glasses, if you will. They're helping us. And so hopefully, it'll normalize it. And then we can become that team that we need to become. We really do need that teamwork going.

Abby Corrigan (26:18):

Yeah. Whenever we did that research and we were interviewing, I think it was 500 neurodivergent workers across the US, and a lot of what came out of that ... the biggest thing I think that they had said that they would like is neurodiversity awareness training in their organizations. And I think it's for that exact reason, just to raise the fact that neurodiversity is just that. It's not a disability. It's just a difference. And there's so many simple things that can be implemented, as simple as wearing glasses, that will help individuals to thrive in their own way. But it's normal and it's something that should just be, rather than ...

Cory Quigley (26:59):


Abby Corrigan (27:00):

So I guess with your experiences in work, we haven't really touched on that just yet. But I suppose you can relate to stigma because I know we've spoken about this before.

Cory Quigley (27:12):


Abby Corrigan (27:14):

What kind of experience around stigma and barriers would you have had?

Cory Quigley (27:19):

Around stigmas? Yeah, there have been a number. I think it's kind of twofold. There's different degrees of it, really. So there is the technology that I need for some things. Those types of technological things are important for me because when I went through my testing, spatial awareness was huge. I have advanced spatial awareness and advanced language. I mean, I'm very good at talking. I talk too much, but I'm good at it for the most part. When you use this technology, like that text-to-speech ... as fast as you can talk, I think it's 180 words a minute. If you can talk 180 words a minute, which I might be able to do, it will tape it for you. And now, it's bang-on accurate. A lot of it's very accurate, really, so that's fabulous. There's grammar stuff out there now that is fabulous for me with this. Like I say, the dyslexia is a big thing.


Those types of things are really key for me, and it actually has opened up those doors for me. Because that was part of my limitations in going back to school, and those kinds of barriers. The other one would be, I would say, being able to do things differently is not a bad thing for different people. As an employer, you don't have all the same people sitting there. How I approach one person is different than how I approach a different person. Some people need the heavy. Some people need an open ear. It depends on the person you're trying to motivate to do their job, right? I had a teacher who was fantastic at university. Her name's Debbie Pushor, and she would do essential conversations. She did this for the whole class, but it was a demonstration of how she can do her assessment and see where you're at kind of a deal.


So it was an essential conversation, and you would sit down and you would talk with her to gauge where things are at for you. And I think that's great in the working world or in classroom. Those types of things were good. There's that technological stigma, those barriers that I have that I kind of need. There's stigmas from people that just don't understand. Some of them are just plain bullies. That's all they are. But some of them, I think it's just a lack of understanding. I had one. I had revealed that I have dyslexia in university to my group ... I was in this group thing ... and one of the young ladies said, "Well, why the hell would you want to be a teacher then?" I mean, seriously. That kind of stuff, right? And that's sort of overt. There's been a lot more overt stuff like that.


As a child, I can remember I used to have a bunch of friends and they said, "Well, you're going into the stupid class. We don't want to play with you." You get confronted with all sorts of stuff like that because you're different. And those are the messages that are being given out, that you're broken or stupid, or whatever. It's just a lack of understanding is all it really equates to be. And so organizations like Texthelp, and what have you, are really starting to break down those negative messages that circulate, or myths and what have you. You guys are really making inroads and change to say that, "No, no. That's not right," so that's really good. And then, having conversations like we're having today to our audience that, obviously, must have big hearts and a passion for change. We're a global group that are trying to really bring that inclusion in and show that we're stronger together and we're better together. Like I say, we got to get that team going. Neurodiverse, neurotypical. The dream team. Yeah, there's a lot of gifts as a result of it.


I found there was some struggles at work. Most of my jobs were pretty good. There's overt stuff that happens. Lots of times, most bullying stuff that you get ... we're kind of susceptible to it, unfortunately. Because you go through the system, and I think there needs to be changes in the system. We've sort of talked about it. I could go on about some of that stuff. But it leaves you with a degree of trauma. Everybody experiences trauma, whether that's big T or little T traumas. But the neurodiverse tend to experience more of it. There was a really good article out that talked about neurodiverse being ... Well, they called it more sensitive. I'd like to say more empathic. Sensitivity for a guy, we've talked about this, can be a bit ... It depends on how you say you're sensitive. "Oh, you're so sensitive," you know what I mean? You're going to have to be careful about how you say that.


I think you're more susceptible to some of that trauma and it sticks with you a little longer. I feel I have a degree of CPTSD as a result of that, which is a childhood post-traumatic stress thing. Well, they call it complex post-traumatic stress. But then, you stand out. There are certain personalities ... whether that's narcissistic or narcissistic-type personalities ... that you can get that will target you a bit. If it's a healthy work environment, you don't ever have to worry about it. You won't have to worry about it as much. If you got a really good, solid supervisor, you don't have to worry about it. You got a good team there. It's fine. But if you walk into a toxic environment and there are, unfortunately, some toxic environments out there, you can become hit really fast.


Now that being said, bullies have a tendency to go after your best and your brightest or different, and I happen to be a bit of both. Going to be modest about that. Those things exist and they really exist for the neurodiverse, and so we need some of those protections against some of that because we get hit very hard with it. Now, like I said before, the gift of the adversary to teach you what you want, what you don't want, when to start to stand up for yourself. You have to learn. There's this onus on myself. The only person I have control over is me, right? I don't have control over anybody else.


I have to do my introspection. I have to learn to respond, not to react. I have to learn that the person opposite of me has their own background and their own diverse story that brings them to that position, and to try to approach that with understanding. It speaks more about them than it does about me. Those types of things. I see everything as a gift now, where before, I used to get stuck in that "poor me," that victim mentality, and that didn't help me. I've learned a lot of things. That resilience piece, I've kind of picked up and learned on that. And that's because I'm a very critical thinker. I'm a deep thinker and I like to dig into multiple topics and things. Anyhow, I'm yapping a lot again.

Abby Corrigan (36:50):

No, don't worry.

Cory Quigley (36:51):

Sorry, I'm going on.

Abby Corrigan (36:53):

It's all right. So I guess these days, we're sort of seeing more and more organizations seeing the strengths of neurodiversity and realizing the benefits. And I know we've chatted offline before, and you mentioned a lot of great examples from organizations over in Canada that are doing great things for neurodiversity. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Cory Quigley (37:23):

Okay, I'm going to pull up this one fellow here. He owns a Tim Horton's in Toronto. And there was an article here ... It's in The Star, which is a paper in Ontario. His name, where is his name here? Mark ... Oh, come on. Why don't I see his name right off the top of my head? Wafer? W-A-F-E-R. He actually owns a lot of Tim Horton's here in Ontario, and he hires specifically disabled workers. And he doesn't do it for charity. This isn't about charity. He does it because it's profitable. Of course he does it because he has a big heart, but that's not the only reason to do it. He does it because there's a business model involved in it, and we have to think about that model.


I'm a bleeding heart. I am. I would take the shirt off my back to help somebody else, and have done it. At my previous job, I bought people groceries out of my own paycheck. I bought lunches. I've done lots of things out of my own paycheck to help people out. I just do it because I like doing it. I like helping people. I don't mind helping people. I know how it is to struggle. He probably does the same thing because he does have a big heart, but he also sees the business model of it. I think there's six things, here, he has. So he talks about good qualifications, and he talks about innovation, low maintenance, motivation, everyone benefits. And so when he talks about things like motivation ... I was teaching. I got a group of four people jobs at a construction company, so I had to train them with some construction training.


Two of them buzzed past it fast. It's usually a two, three-hour course that you do, and you have to pass it 100%. Anyhow, they went through it and bang! They just flew through that course. The other two, on the other hand, that wasn't the case. They were there all day, and they were supposed to start work the next day so they had to have it. So I stayed after work for a couple of hours to help them get through it, and they had to get through it on their own. And you get a certificate at the end of it, right? Well, they got through that. They were determined. They didn't give up. They got frustrated, but they got through it.


And the look on their faces when they got that certificate ... Oh, those are the things I live for. I mean, their eyes just lit up and it was fantastic. Anyhow, so they went to their job the next day, all four of them, and the first two guys that buzzed by that like that didn't stay very long. Actually, I think if they were there two weeks, I would say that was the biggest amount of time. The other guys are still there ... Well, they were there for at least a couple of years when I was checking in. But as far as I know, they're still there and they bust their asses off. When I spoke to the supervisors, they had a great appreciation for the job. They love that job. And that's what this guy is capitalizing on. He's capitalizing on that low maintenance. Innovation. I mean, a lot of people are out-of-the-box thinkers. They see things differently, so that's huge. Good qualifications.

Abby Corrigan (41:51):

And that's the thing as well. You actually have said before that you see having ADHD and dyslexia as a gift and not a disability. It's for those reasons being a unique thinker brings so many strengths and benefits.

Cory Quigley (42:11):

Yep. I know we only have so much time, so hopefully we'll get a chance to chat again. But I could talk about a myriad of gifts that we have. I've mentioned before about that hot air balloon, right? If you look at a hot air balloon, lots of people look and they see the beautiful balloon with all the colors and what have you. Well, that's like the neurodiverse. We have all these gifts that we bring to the table, but we tend to focus on the one weight that's keeping it there. And if you focus on that weight long enough, it'll grow. It actually will grow and that balloon will never take off. It'll stay stuck and it'll start to deflate. But if you stop focusing on the weight so much ... which in my particular case was the remedial piece ... and start focusing on that balloon, and just filling it up, it's physics. It's going to go up in the air. The more you fill, the higher it's going to go. It'll lift. Weight or not, it'll go. So we want to focus on those gifts, right?

Abby Corrigan (43:20):

That's such a good analogy as well, and I guess that kind of brings us back to the universal design. It is allowing all ... hot air balloons to rise, if you will. So I guess if you put that into practical terms, what that looks like would be ... As an educator or an employer, do you empower everybody that's in your space to engage in work in their own way? That's providing a choice in how they complete projects or tasks, and providing tools that allow them to do things in their own way and remove those weights that are holding them back. And then, as well, with how we engage learners and workers, so thinking about how we can communicate to suit all types of people instead of just sticking to the one written format, or whatever that might be. It could be to provide things in multiple formats or tools that allow people to switch to whatever format suits themselves. And that all brings it back to another thing that you said there about that guy, Mark. One of his six points of doing what he does is that it's beneficial for everybody.

Cory Quigley (44:38):


Abby Corrigan (44:39):

Creating a universal design environment is beneficial for everybody. And it can also help us ... to bring back to that neurodiversity  awareness piece ... If you have a universal design environment, you're naturally going to be thinking universally about different sorts of people, so it keeps the awareness top, front, and center as well. And we can each be more conscious about our own behaviors as well with that in mind, so that's brilliant.

Cory Quigley (45:03):

Yeah. And that's what we want at the end of the day, It's not the limitation in the people. It counts for everybody, but I'll relate it to dyslexia and stuff like that. There's a lot of articles that talk about how there's kind of a blame thing that happens towards dyslexia, or to towards the neurodiverse, saying that, "You're broken," and, "This is a result of your dyslexia, and, "If we just focus on this, it'll help you," and stuff like that. Well, we're not broken. It's not a failing on us. It's a failing on our system to appreciate what we bring to the table. We have all these gifts that we bring to the table. So do lots of people. And so if we use your universal design and we start to use some growth mindset, as opposed to toxic accountability, if you will ... manipulation, shame, coercion, those types of things, which we can slip in because they fix issues fast ... But if we start to use more of a growth mindset or this universal design or those types of mentalities, we're going to have workers that will do cartwheels to do their job.


If I had a supervisor who got me, who understands me to a degree, and can see the potential there and has the ability to be authentic, be trustworthy, and work with me to keep me ... God, the things that we could do together. I want to be in a position where I can contribute and help. That's what I am. I'm a helper. I'm a mediator. I like doing those things. And I'm a counselor. I love teaching and I like helping people. And so if I found somebody that would do stuff like that with me and help me to be my pot with the lid, that would be fantastic. I would love that. And I'm looking for work, so hey! I got to throw that little plug out there while I can. I still have to get my LinkedIn thing going. I got to get it looking better. I just started it yesterday. I'm not big tech, but I like the tech stuff. My kids are way better at it than I am, so I got to get it going. Good stuff, right?

Abby Corrigan (48:05):

Brilliant. Yeah, so that's been great. I think that's all we have time for today, but it's been brilliant chatting with you again, Cory. Thank you so much for joining me.

Cory Quigley (48:15):

Well, thank you. Like I said, I really appreciate you giving me this opportunity to share my story and get to know you and Texthelp and the wonderful things that you guys have to offer this community. I mean, it's people like you that are really breaking down barriers for the neurodiverse and it's fabulous to see that happening. And I want to say thank you to the audience as well. Like I say, there's so many big hearts out there and so many people that want to make change together. You got to appreciate that and just say thank you for that. That's awesome. I appreciate that.

Abby Corrigan (49:06):

Brilliant. Thank you. Joni, back to you for some closing thoughts.

Joni Degner (49:09):

Thank you, Abby, for hosting the session. And to Cory for joining us. 

And of course, our listeners, thanks for listening! So a quick recap before you go, one thing to know, one thing to think about, and one thing to do. So, here we go.


One thing to know. Universal Design can benefit the workplace as well. As we’ve explored in this series, Universal Design began in architecture before making its way into the digital space. Inclusive services and products are designed with Universal Design in mind. The education sector uses this framework to design inclusive learning spaces. We can and should do the same in the workplace. When learners move from the classroom to the workspace, their needs and preferences don't change. We must create working environments suited to every type of person.


One thing to think about. Thinking differently shouldn’t mean different treatment. Many neurodivergent people don’t talk about their neurodiversity at work out of fear of being treated differently. We’ve also heard the negative impact of this from Cory’s experience at school. Every person should see themselves reflected in their environment. With this comes benefits for absolutely everyone, from the auditory processors to the visual learners and beyond.


And lastly, one thing to do. Cory has kindly written a blog for us with 6 facts he wishes people knew about neurodiversity. There, you can gain more insight into his experiences, along with tips to help you be more neuro-inclusive. To read the blog, visit Texthelp’s website at: text.help/cory.

And don’t forget to subscribe to Texthelp Talks on your preferred podcast player or streaming service to catch us for the next episode where we’ll be busting the myths around Universal Design. Thanks again, take care, and goodbye!