The 5 W’s of invisible dyslexia

This month we celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week, 4 to 10 October 2021. At Texthelp, we believe everyone has the right to understand and be understood. That’s why we’re proudly teaming up with the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) to support this year’s theme, ‘Invisible Dyslexia’. We’re helping to raise awareness, increase visibility and remove the stigma that can cause serious mental health issues. Starting with this blog on the who, what, where, when and why of invisible dyslexia.

The What

The Rose (2009) definition of dyslexia is:

“Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.”

This video created by the BDA helps explain dyslexia to younger audiences. It highlights the real challenges dyslexic children face, whilst also acknowledging their strengths and potential.

The Who

Ten percent of the population are believed to be dyslexic, but it is still often poorly understood.

As each person is unique, so is everyone's experience of dyslexia. It can range from mild to severe, and it can co-occur with other learning differences. It usually runs in families and is a life-long condition.

It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Many dyslexic people show strengths in areas such as reasoning and in visual and creative fields.

Our Festival of Inclusive Education keynote speaker Kate Griggs’ TED Talk on ‘The Creative Brilliance of Dyslexia’ is a great watch to help rethink our perception.

The Why

Why is this year’s theme invisible dyslexia?

As dyslexia itself isn’t visible, individuals with dyslexia often feel like their struggles are unseen. Dyslexia also too often goes hand in hand with other invisible challenges. People can struggle with their mental health and feel unsupported.

As part of Dyslexia Awareness Week, the BDA are helping people in the dyslexic community to be seen. They’re encouraging them to share their stories. So, we’d like you to meet Nikki, a Hair and Beauty student at Nottingham College. Nikki describes her experience at school:

When I was at school and I had dyslexia there was no support. There was nothing in place, so I learned to manage. If I couldn’t spell the word I would avoid it, I’d work around the word I couldn’t spell.”

But with the right help, the strengths and talents of dyslexic people can really shine. Now Nikki is at college and has tools and support in place that help her achieve her full potential.

The Where

Just as students that require glasses grow up to be adults that require glasses, students that need supports for reading and writing need those same supports once they join the workforce. But, like the dyslexia itself, the stigma can also stay with them.

From the child at school struggling to keep up with the rest of their friends, to the office worker feeling like they don’t belong. Our ‘Go red for dyslexia blog’ has lots of great resources on helping to support individuals with dyslexia throughout life.

The When

The perception of when having dyslexia will impact an individual can often create additional barriers.

The BDA explains that “dyslexia is a learning difference which primarily affects reading and writing skills. However, it does not only affect these skills. Dyslexia is actually about information processing. Dyslexic people may have difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear, which can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills. Dyslexia can also impact on other areas such as organisational skills.”

This is something to keep in mind within education and the workplace. Alongside reading and writing supports, organisation and study tools are also key. The great thing is that these are also tools that can help everyone achieve. Making these available to all students or employees can help remove the stigma of assistive technology.

The How

Ok so it doesn’t start with W but we think it is the most important word in this blog.

  • How can we overcome the stigma?
  • How can we increase visibility?
  • How can we redesign learning for inclusion?
  • How can we break down barriers in the workplace?

The British Dyslexia Association has a full guide to Dyslexia Week, that is a great starting point. Check out their upcoming events and download their resource packs for education and the workplace.

Accessibility and inclusion is at the heart of our whole organisation and all our products. Our core purpose is to help people understand and be understood. We hold ourselves to very high standards. Whilst we already work hard to produce information that can be understood by everyone, we know there will always room for improvement. We have a plan to get to where we need to be and we thought we’d share it with you too.

Discover More

Learn about supporting employees with dyslexia and unlocking the unique strengths that neurodiverse employees can bring, in our free guide.