Inclusive communication matters. For us, it's personal.

We live in a diverse world. Naturally, the way each of us communicates is also diverse. All of us have our own way of thinking, understanding, and expressing ourselves. For some, how they communicate isn’t through personal choice, but a result of personal needs. Inclusive communication recognizes this. For every organization, it should be part of their DNA. At Texthelp, it’s at the heart of our whole organization. In fact, it’s our core purpose. I’ll explain why.

Where it all began: “Everyone has the right to understand and be understood”

When I was 12 years old, my father had a severe stroke. He lost the ability to speak. He found it difficult to read and communicate. He was unable to express himself, and I could see that he was incredibly frustrated. As you can imagine, at that age, it impacted me deeply. But it also led to a lot of personal growth. It’s when I first learned about some of the barriers that can exist in the world.

At that time, assistive technology was not broadly available - in fact, in those days, most written communication was on paper. My dad couldn’t access information or services without help. Until then, he was a driven and independent man, and I know he did not enjoy having to depend on others for communication, and often people were making assumptions about what he wanted to say. I believe everyone has the right to understand and be understood. I was determined to make a difference, and I thought that technology held the answer.

In 1996, I founded Texthelp and my vision came to life. Today, Texthelp stands as a global inclusive technology company that has positively impacted the lives of over 250 million people in education and the workplace - from those with disabilities, neurodivergent conditions, multilingual backgrounds, and more.

A Full Circle Moment: My Dyslexia diagnosis

As a passionate advocate for inclusive technology and leading a company whose core mission is to empower neurodivergent talent, receiving a late diagnosis of Dyslexia in 2023 at the age of 52 was a full-circle moment for me. This redefined my understanding of both my strengths and challenges and shed light on my lifelong struggles with reading and comprehension.

Despite excelling in areas such as science and math, I always had to work particularly hard at English, which often left me feeling frustrated and misunderstood. The diagnosis opened a door to understanding my cognitive profile in a new light. In my assessment, I scored extremely high for verbal comprehension and for perceptual reasoning. When I am discussing complex topics at work, or thinking about data or analyzing visual information, I find everything very easy. When I am reading, however, my accuracy is low and my working memory is nothing to write home about either.

The thing is, I actually really enjoy reading - I just do it in a different way. I absolutely love Audible and consume at least two audiobooks per week. At work, I use our Read&Write Text-to-Speech tool a lot when reading important information. It makes it much easier for me to digest the content and it lowers the cognitive load. This is just one of the many features of our Read&Write toolbar.

Unlocking Potential with Inclusive Technology

Neurodivergent individuals are known to have ‘spikey profiles’. This is a term to describe how they can perform extremely well in some areas, while struggling in others. For example, research links dyslexic thinking with skills like complex problem-solving, visualization, and cognitive flexibility. These are precisely the skills identified by the World Economic Forum as crucial for the future workforce.

Inclusive technology enables neurodivergent individuals to work to their unique strengths so they can perform to their full potential. We are already working with many schools that are seeing the difference; in fact, 15% of students in the USA use our software, and this includes every student in the state of Arkansas.

Workplaces are also seeing the impact of this technology in unlocking untapped talents, productivity, and engagement of their neurodiverse and multilingual teams. We’re working with leading companies such as EY, KPMG, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Lumen Technologies, and more who are unlocking potential and driving digital inclusion with our tools.

Inclusive Communication in the Workplace

Too often, we learn from our product users that their working journey hasn’t been an easy one. From their experiences, we can see that a lot of it comes down to a lack of inclusive communication. In the modern workplace, most of the information we receive is in the written format. We access everything from emails to web pages and PDFs. We respond with typed communication. But this doesn’t suit everybody.

While 94% of HR and D&I professionals have now established neurodiversity and disability inclusion best practices into their workplace, very often disability and neurodiversity appear low on the list of priorities. Yet, with 20% of the population being neurodivergent - a number expected to grow to 50% by 2050, employers are now looking for ways to future-proof their business and adapt.

Assistive technology like Read&Write is a small change that makes a big difference in the workplace. The sleek toolbar provides subtle support with a diverse range of features, including Text-to-Speech, Dictation, Word Prediction, and spelling and grammar checking. Many of our customers have reported higher levels of productivity and increased innovation among their employees. As 76% of people do not disclose a neurodivergent condition at work, it also helps to create a more inclusive environment, by providing supportive tools to all of their workforce and reducing the need for a diagnosis.

Inclusive Communication for All Audiences

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over one billion people who live with a disability. Of those, 285 million people are living with sight loss and visual impairments. 1 in 5 people have a neurodiverse condition such as Autism, ADHD, or Dyslexia. In the US, 54% of adults are reading below 6th-grade level. In the UK, the average reading age is just 9 years old.

Communicating inclusively to all these people means you need to make your digital content accessible. That may mean providing information in multiple ways so people have a choice in how they process it. Our ReachDeck tool helps you ensure your website is easily accessible by all audiences - the Toolbar offers features that allow your web visitors to engage with your online content in a way that suits them, the Auditor ensures you're complying with digital accessibility guidelines, while the Editor ensures written content is easy to understand and follows best practices.

Looking to the future...

As I look ahead, I hope that assistive technology will be more widely appreciated and accepted as a work aid. I hope that more organizations will embrace inclusive communication and realize that technology can help them on their way.

At Texthelp, we shared some exciting news recently on our merger with n2y, a trailblazer in special education curriculum resources. This combined business will help us support even more individuals in education and the workplace with additional products, resources, and services. At Texthelp, we have always had the goal to empower the literacy and learning of 1 billion people by 2030 - and now more than ever, I am confident we will get there.

Want to find out more the difference inclusive technology can make in your organization?

Book a chat with our inclusion experts to discover the transformative impact inclusive technology can have on your people and business!