3 lessons educators can teach us about improving neuroinclusion at work

Educators have long adopted the process of Universal Design, creating classrooms where learners with diverse abilities can work together side by side. They're provided with multiple means of perceiving, comprehending and expressing their learning. This system is serving to make work-ready employees. The next generation are entering the workforce with an understanding of how they work and learn best. As organizations, we need to be ready to adopt them into an environment that’s as flexible as the one they’ve left. 

As part of a series of 3 lessons, in this session, Martin McKay, CEO & Founder of Texthelp, shares what Universal Design means and how to adopt it into the workplace.

Having founded Texthelp in 1996, Martin has spent his work life developing technology that helps people to understand and be understood. His key learnings are shared from over 27 years partnering with educators and employers to support neurodivergent individuals.

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Created in partnership with DIAL Global

This webinar was originally recorded as part of DIAL Global's Listen & Learn webinar series.

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In this 50 minute session, discover:

  • What it means to create a workplace that's accessible, inclusive, and flexible to different ways of thinking and doing
  • Why the Universal Design Mindset is key, what this means and how to adopt it
  • How deliberate inclusion can lead to great things for everyone
    • 00:00
      Introduction to neurodiversity
    • 09:09
      Lesson 1 - More people are neurodivergent than we might realize
    • 15:32
      Lesson 2 - The Universal Design Mindset is key
    • 28:25
      Lesson 3 - Deliberate inclusion can lead to great things for everyone
  • Martin McKay:

    Welcome to the session. I'm Martin McKay. I'm actually going to be sharing three lessons that I think can teach us about improving neurodiversity inclusion at work. And it's things that I've learned from 28 years of working in this space. But in education, there's a lot of things that happen in education that I think we can bring to the workplace.

    A little bit about me, first of all. I'm Martin McKay, I'm the founder and CEO of Texthelp, and we are a global inclusive technology company. We've got 11 offices around the world. We employ over 350 staff. You can hear from my accent, I'm in Northern Ireland, but we've got a bunch of people in Preston. We have offices in Denmark, and Norway, and Sweden, and the USA, and Australia. As I was saying earlier, the company started about 27 years ago or so.

    My goal was to use technology to communicate, to make communicating easier for everyone. And as I said earlier, my dad had a stroke, it was really pretty severe. He lost the ability to use his right arm and leg. He also lost his speech. And he used to be a science teacher. He was a really bright guy, and he just lost the ability to write, and lost the ability to communicate. He hadn't lost any of his intelligence, he just couldn't communicate, couldn't make himself understood.

    And in those days, assistive technology was not broadly available. Most written communication was on paper. And my dad, who'd been very driven on and independent, just couldn't access information or services without help. So, when I was old enough, I started to make assistive technology to help people communicate, and I started off making tools for people affected by stroke, and multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy. Initially, before we get into dyslexia, motion and dexterity aids to help with communication.

    And today, we're still doing this, still making tools to help people understand and be understood. A lot of our users now are... Actually, the vast majority of our users are dyslexic or have ADHA. And our tools support over a hundred million people worldwide, and from education right through to the workplace. And it's only in the past few years that we've been focusing on workplace. When we find that we were getting students to go through university, and then they go into workplace and the support is not there.

    For 26 years, we've been helping people in education, the public sector, private sector, not-for-profit sectors to make their experiences more inclusive. And we do it because when people can understand the world around them, and express themselves, and make themselves understood, it's just better. People are at their best when they can understand and be understood.

    And I think, as organizations, it's our responsibility to try to create environments where everyone can thrive and it's easy for them.

    So, how I get into dyslexia, in the first place? And generally, the sort of broader range of neurodiverse conditions is, I met a woman at Glasgow College of Art who was responsible for all students with disabilities. And she had one student with cerebral palsy, and she said she had about 200 students with dyslexia and they still... Dyslexia should not be regarded as a disability in the same way that we don't think people with different colored eyes are disabled. It's just, they're different, think a little bit different, and different set of skills.

    But she said that, if I could help you with dyslexia, I could reach a lot more people. And until then, I didn't really know very much about dyslexia. I certainly still don't think about it as a disability. But I did some research and I ended up going to California to meet a guy called Marshall Raskind, and he ran a research center, and his research into spelling disorders among young kids with dyslexia was the basis of our first spell checker.

    And my 20-year-old daughter has dyslexia. I'm very proud to say she's now a third year dentist. And actually, I think she has done really well in her degree, so far, because education has really got us back together for dyslexic people.

    In education, particularly, before college and university, through the school system, teachers are legally obligated to advocate for their students, seek out students who are dyslexic, and make accommodations for them. And that doesn't really happen fully in the workplace yet. So, that is our mission. We're trying to get that level of provision and that type of thinking that we see in education to show up in the workplace.

    And there are a lot of people in this kind of neurodiverse bucket. 15 to 20% of us have some type of neurodiverse condition like dyslexia or ADHD or autism. And despite this neurodiversity and disability, very often, a forgotten piece in the diversity and inclusion agenda.

    And it's not all bad. We can really see improvements over the last... Certainly, 10 years, as there's been a huge change. Back in 2016, 90% of customers said that they are... Sorry, 90% of companies that we surveyed or... It was actually another survey, it wasn't our survey. 90% of companies said that they prioritized diversity and inclusion, but only 4% considered disability in their initiatives.

    In 2018, 1 in 10 organizations said that they included neurodiversity in their people management practices. But just last year, we conducted our own research around neuroinclusion, and we found that, actually, 94% of HR and diversity and inclusion professionals have established some type of neurodiversity and disability inclusion practices in the workplace. But we've still got a long, long way to go.

    That same research showed us that, when it comes to diversity and inclusion priorities, disability is still ranked as one of the lowest. And our research found that race was a top priority followed by gender at 25%, socioeconomic background or kind of economic mobility at 16%, disability at 15%, and sexual orientation at 6%.

    And when we looked at the experiences of neurodivergent employees, we found that 64% of them believed that their organization could be doing more to support them, 61% have experienced stigma, 56% have experienced communication barriers, and 32% have experienced the lack of career progression. And in fact, 75% of people with dyslexia just will not disclose it at work. They just don't want to talk about it. They're embarrassed about it.

    As I said earlier, compared to the workplace, schools and colleges and universities have really got their act together for people with dyslexia, for example. And as organizations, we need to make sure that we're creating environments that are accessible, and inclusive, and flexible to different ways of thinking and doing.

    And it's something the education sector have been doing really quite well for years. And from working alongside them, got a lot of insight. So, today, I'm going to share my top three learnings that I think that we can apply to the workplace.

    Here we go. What I've learned from teachers and special educators... And actually, I'll give you a little bit more technical background to probably establish some credibility instead of some weird guy with a beard showing up to tell you stuff. Over the past 30 years, I have been on advisory boards for the US Department of Education, and their office of special education programs. I've advised on accessible talking books, and accessible minds, universal design for learning. A lot of different projects. When I talk about accessibility, it's because, whenever visually impaired people are reading an online book, the book has got to be accessible.

    And in the same way that our websites all have to be accessible these days, really, all of our materials throughout the workplace should be accessible. And when we make them accessible, people can use assistive technology and to consume the content that just makes it easier for them to understand.

    And I'm very lucky to have partnered with an organization called CAST, it's the Center for Applied Special Technology, and based in Massachusetts, and it's an inclusive education think tank that's spun out of Harvard School for Education. So, I've been exposed to a lot of people who are really thinking big about this and using good scientific research to work out what's effective and what's not.

    My first lesson is that... First thing is, there are more neurodiverse people around than you might realize. And people who've got dyslexia or other neurodiverse conditions just look like everybody else. It's a hidden difference.

    And guess what? People who can't read very well or have got dyslexia, and they're not confident writers, they're not very proud of it. And very often, when they were in education, they get stuck in special education, maybe leveled as stupid, and that didn't feel very good. And now, that they're in the workplace, they probably regard telling everyone that they have dyslexia as a career limiting move. And our own research found this.

    And I mentioned the research earlier. Three quarters of people just don't disclose that they've got dyslexia, and 44% said that they were worried that their career would be negatively impacted, 42% were concerned that their managers would view them differently. And 12% of students are in special education, and when they leave school, they don't leave dyslexia behind or they don't leave their ADHD behind, so we need to make sure that they are accommodated and supported when they go into the workplace.

    So, that's part of my mission. We want to make workplaces more inclusive in how they think, and feel, and act about their neurodiverse workforce.

    On the screen here is a picture of a guy called Colin, and Colin works in the civil service. He's a bright guy and he ends up-


    Sorry, Martin. It hasn't changed screens.

    Martin McKay:

    Ah, okay.


    There you go.

    Martin McKay:



    Yep. Perfect. Thank you.

    Martin McKay:

    Okay. Thank you, Samantha. Yeah.

    On the screen is the picture of a guy called Colin. He works in the civil service. Really, really bright guy. And he got promoted, and promoted, and promoted, and he ended up working in a role which needed a lot of reading and writing and he was almost fired.

    And he wasn't stupid, he was dyslexic. And very thankfully, his manager had some experience with dyslexia and she suggested that they have an assessment. The occupational health team got involved. That's the way the civil service works. And it's very, very common that he ended up getting some software to support him, and he was able to continue his career progression, just because he needed some support with his reading and writing. It's very common.

    I was talking to a young lady at EY a few months ago, and when she heard about what we do at Texthelp, she disclosed for the first time that she was dyslexic. And she said, at her work, it's really difficult. Before she sends an email, she's really worried about her having spelling mistakes, so she copies and pastes it from Outlook into Microsoft Word and into Grammarly and into Google Docs and spell checks it three times. And she's a brilliant young woman, and she's just afraid of disclosing her dyslexia.

    And it's okay for people like Richard Branson having made a billion pounds to say, "I'm dyslexic." But when you're at the beginning of your career ladder, you don't have that confidence. Not everyone can be like Mr. Branson. So, there are going to be a huge number of people in your workforce who feel like that. Roughly, the same number of people who have blue eyes. When you're walking down the corner and you see someone with blue eyes, the frequency with which you see employees with blue eyes is the frequency with which you will see dyslexic people. And a lot of them are just not going to be disclosing that, and supporting them will really help them to thrive.

    We don't want neurodiverse people to be fearful of being fired. Instead, we want to have workplaces be a place where employees are supported right from the start. And we want to create a space where employees feel comfortable and confident to hone with their work life.

    My daughter has had the confidence to work harder than most people in her course because she feels supported. She gets a little bit of extra time in exams. But a key thing for her is that, all of the lectures in Queen's University are now recorded, so she can go back and play back audio visual recordings of lectures.

    Very weirdly, those lectures are not available to all students. Why not? They're already recording them. It'd be so easy to make them available. And so, that's an example of universal provision that Queen's are doing a really good job of supporting the dyslexic students. They're creating these additional assets, but those assets would be useful for everyone. So, it's just kind of thinking in a more kind of universal way, I think, would be better there.

    What does that mean? Having tools and resources in place to support staff is really important. Not just the staff who have asked for extra support, because that is the minority. Lots and lots of people wouldn't ask, and they want to self-advocate. So, just making the assumption that a large number of your employees are dyslexic, and getting some tools, and providing access to everyone means that they don't have to put their hand up and self-identify.

    And ideally, actually, we do this during the hiring process, make it clear that we welcome and support people with dyslexia and ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions, and creating an employment environment where employees feel comfortable to open up, be themselves, bring their whole selves to work and so on. And in that process, really, we can all learn from each other.

    Dyslexic people think in a different way, and it's just so... It's brilliant. We're really, really refreshing. An example of this, we've mentioned getting tools in place, the inclusive technology, the types of tools that we produce. It's a really powerful support tool.

    Specifically, we've got a product called Read&Write for Work, and it's an inclusion tool. It supports different ways of working and communicating. And KPMG is one of our customers and they provide Read&Write to everyone, and that's because they want to make it as easy as possible for their employees to gain access to tools that will support them without the need to ask or be embarrassed or put their hand up, and they can simply click a button and install it and start using it.

    So, that's the first-


    Martin, could you move the slides on again? I think it's stuck on the civil service one for you. Sorry.

    Martin McKay:

    Oh. Sorry.


    There you go. Sorry. They keep sticking, I believe, from your side.

    Martin McKay:



    Thank you.

    Martin McKay:

    Okay. Lesson two. In particular, this is something I'm really, really passionate about. This is universal design.

    Universal design is absolutely important. When you have this mindset, the workplace can be a great place where great things happen to everybody. And universal design is a term that actually comes from architecture. And at Texthelp, we use this mindset when we're thinking about people's daily life with their computer and how they are experiencing work.

    So, this is not a universally designed staircase. If you rolled up to this in a wheelchair, you would really struggle with this. And wheelchairs would definitely struggle from an accessibility perspective. And we use this lens when we're looking at the working experience for people. If you struggle with reading or writing, this is what a document can look like. Or if you have to write a report, that blank page can look a little bit like this if you're not confident about your writing.

    And it's really important to understand that dyslexia is not an intelligence thing. Conversationally, dyslexic people are full of knowledge. It's just, when it comes to actually turning it into text or decoding that text and consuming it, that's the piece they struggle with.

    Here is another set of steps. This is in Toronto, and there are brilliant example of universal design. You can see that ramp was actually built into the steps. As well as it just being built in, it sends a very clear message about inclusion. When that town square was being built in Toronto, it was saying, "We have thought about people in wheelchairs from the outset and you're all included." And we try to make our software like these steps. So, not software for disabled people or neurodivergent people, software that's just easy, make your work life easier, makes it easier and more fun to write, and helps you understand without being labeled as a tool for disabled people.

    In the education sector, we've had universal design for learning for a while. Most classrooms these days are inclusive classrooms, and we designed the learning experience to accommodate different approaches and different abilities in learning. And an inclusive classroom encourages all types of thinking. And that universal design for learning gives educators a framework to allow us to reduce the barriers to learning. And we can use this framework in the workplace, as well, to create working environments where employees have what they need, and are able to achieve more, and to encourage different ways of working.

    Universal Design for Learning as opposed to Universal Design for Work has got some principles, and it's around engaging students in a way that suits them, allowing them to express their knowledge in a way that suits them, and allowing them to express themselves in their best way.

    In school, that means allowing kids to change the font and the font color and the size. If they're visually impaired, you can enlarge it. Lots of people with dyslexia prefer different colors instead of black and white, which is common. They prefer yellow and blue. Just easier contrast. There's a really good product in education in the USA called Newsela. And it is today's news, so it's kind of like going to BBC News or News Bit, kind of kids version of the news. But every single news story is written at five different reading ages. In that way, the teacher can get everyone to get on to the same story, but it's at a level that's that's suitable for them.

    Very often, students with dyslexia have got really poor handwriting. It just means allowing those students to turn in typed work instead of handwriting, or allowing them to respond by video, which is, actually, super common during COVID with all of the distance learning. Oh... Excuse me, going to take on my throat.

    And also, when we're in geography class or history class... Oh, I should have had a glass of water here. Sorry. When we're in geography class or history class, we're assessing their knowledge of geography and history, not their writing. And so, allowing them to express their knowledge in a way that suits them best, it's just better for everyone.

    So, what does that mean at work? Well, I just want to plant a seed here. Is email the best way to engage your employees, if you have like a thousand employees and you send an email out to them all? Probably not the best thing for everyone. And the average reading age in the UK is nine. And so, when you write your employee emails or, very importantly, your customer facing copy, the text on your website, do you write it with that in mind? Do you think, "Oh my goodness, 10% of my potential customers could be dyslexic? A bunch of them don't have English as the first language."

    Instead of writing this to sound clever, I'm going to write this to be really easy to consume. Can you be more flexible on how you expect your staff to communicate with you? Is your staff handbook inclusive? Is it easy to read? Virgin Airlines are really good at this. If you've ever flown with Virgin, you can really experience that in their tone of voice. Everything's simple, clearly expressed, kind of non-judgmental. And they have got legal obligations to convey their safety talk at the beginning of a call. But at the beginning of a flight, Virgin really think about making that accessible with a small... Just super easy to consume. And I think we can all learn from that.

    In practice, that means, thinking about... I'm worried about this slide not advancing. In practice, that means thinking about what we can do to make systems and processes better and easier. And it does doesn't mean accessible, it just means better for everyone, not a tick box exercise.

    We believe that inclusive technology is a really powerful tool for improving the design of your digital workplace. It's a really small change. If you want to impact gender or race at work, it takes years. And it's a really important thing to do, but it takes years to start to include neurodiverse employees and welcome and support neurodiverse employees. It's something that you can do really quickly. And by implementing some inclusive technology tools around your workplace to help with literacy and understanding, it's a small change that you can make, but a kind of huge impact.

    One tool that we have is, our product called Read&Write. And I'm just going to mention this now because I've got a video from a lady who uses it, and I'm going to play a short segment of video from her. It's a software product that started its journey in education, and it's got tools to help dyslexic people make pretty unusual spelling mistakes. And we've spent 25 years building a dyslexic spelling and grammar tool that really helps dyslexic people with the writing. It's got things like word prediction, so that if you start to type a couple of letters, it'll predict the whole word for you. Even if you make spelling mistakes, it fixes them and so on.

    And it's really discreet, and it just supports people who think and work a little bit differently. It's originally designed for people with dyslexia, but lots and lots of people have English as a second language and other conditions that make it difficult for them to read and write. And so, it creates a more inclusive workplace and it allows people to express themselves easily and much more confidently.

    I've got a video here. Universal Design says, "It's okay to work and learn and communicate differently. And we're all a little bit different." So, one of our product users is called Deirdre, and she's a biomedical scientist in.... Actually, she's based in Belfast. You're going to be bombarded with Irish voices today.

    So, I'm from Northern Ireland and Deirdre's from the south, but she works in Belfast. But you'll hear her talking about how dyslexia impacted her self-confidence, and then the change that this made. And you've got to put yourself in the shoes of someone who wouldn't put their hands up and self-identify, and think about all of the people who are in your organization who maybe feel like Deirdre used to felt. And I'll play this video, so that you can hear it from her perspective.


    Yes, I definitely would recommend Read&Write because for me, I struggled all my life with this, with my neurodiversity, with my communication skills. I found it very difficult to interact with people and to feel that I had the ability to do stuff and to have achievements in my life. And I know that if I hadn't had this when I was a child, I would be a doctor today, because that was my dream that I never fulfilled because I believe that that was for those who were intelligent and those that had the ability to do it.

    And if I ever had something that helped me hone my skill and understand my skill, I definitely would've achieved a lot more in my life as a young adult. And so, I think that this would be a shame, if people weren't introduced to this in the Trust, especially new staff. I think if management knew this app and incorporated this by introducing it to all staff and new staff that started, if they understood a little bit about it, they could explain how it could help every staff member.

    I think it would be great if it was an ongoing course for that reason, for staff, so that as new staff started, they could have access to it. It would help them with SOPs. It would help them if they were doing a specialism or even trainee students coming in doing portfolios. I think it would absolutely help those as well. And it would help staff maybe that don't realize that they have difficulties and just think that they're different. It will help them realize that, "I'm not different, I just do things different, and I'm well capable, like everybody else."

    And I think there's a lack of information in relation to this app to everybody. And I think it would be great if management had that information and passed it on to everyone.

    Martin McKay:

    So, you can hear from that video, Deirdre thinks it's a godsend. And if she had it earlier, she would be a doctor. And she clearly very bright, articulate, intelligent, just was not confident with the actual act of reading and writing. And when she mentioned SOPs, those are standard operating procedures. Obviously, really important in healthcare that we follow standard operating procedures. And if a standard operating procedure is like two pages long of dense text, for some people, that's difficult to consume. With these tools, you just press a button, it reads it out loud, it highlights it. And that way, they consume it orally, they hear it, and they comprehend it. Comprehension is elevated.

    And she thinks that if she had those tools when she was younger, she would've... I mean, she's done really well. She's a biomedical scientist, but she really believes that she could have been a doctor. So, it takes a really good example of how these tools can really unlock potential and allow people to feel like they're not different or... Well, I mean, everybody should relish and enjoy being different, but... You know what I mean.

    Lesson number three. And I think this is, for me, the most interesting thing that I've learned over the years. Deliberate inclusion leads to these unintended benefits. And when you are deliberately inclusive, you end up helping people that you didn't intend to help. And so, neurodiversity includes all of us, support for people with dyslexia and autism and ADHD leads to really good things for everyone.

    What do I mean by that? And this ties back to Universal Design. On the right-hand side of this slide, I've included some things that were originally designed for people with pretty serious disabilities. If you go to a modern hotel today... I mentioned the Universal Design concept from architecture. If you go to a modern hotel, you will absolutely see a ramp outside. If you go into the hotel rooms, the light switches will be at the appropriate height for smaller people and people in wheelchairs, the buttons in the elevator will all have braille on them. But if you stand across the road and watch the wheelchair ramp, only 2% of people who use that ramp, are wheelchair users. The FedEx guy who comes to deliver stuff or DHL or Royal Mail, they're going to use the ramp. Parents with buggies would use the ramp. Me with a suitcase, as I kind of rush off for a flight somewhere, I'll use the ramp.

    So, things that are designed inclusively, they end up being used by much more people. And if we think about closed captions or subtitles... They're more often called closed captions in the US than subtitles in the UK. An OFCOM study find that 18% of the population use closed captions, and 80% of them don't have any hearing loss. So, the vast majority of people who use closed captions don't have hearing loss. And the biggest single group are people in airports and sports bars, because it's a noisy environment and the volume is turned down on the TV. Or it could be someone who's wanting to watch the TV at night and not wake their partner up in bed. So, lots and lots and lots of people. Many, many more people use subtitles than the audience group for whom it was originally intended. So, that's the first thing.

    And the second thing is, there have been over a hundred studies on this. And looking at the comprehension of the content of videos that contain captions, and they show that captioning a video improves the comprehension of, and the memory of, and their attention to videos for children, adults, college students... Sorry. Children, adolescents, college students, and adults.

    Here's something that was designed for people who have hearing loss. For legal reasons, it was made just available to everyone. And if you switch on any TV now, you can press the closed caption button and the captions will appear. But if you use captions, your comprehension of the content will be elevated, because you're using more than one learning pathway to consume the content.

    So, switch on captions, your comprehension will improve. I used to do some work with an organization in the US called Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and they were a volunteer organization, and they used to make audio recordings of books for people who couldn't read. For people who were blind and dyslexic. In those days, it was slow... Probably, the quality of the work, because it was being done by volunteers who wasn't brilliant. It might have taken four weeks for someone to read a book, and get it into cassettes, and mail it to the person.

    Fast forward 20 years and we have Audible. And Audible is the talking book service from Amazon, and now it's professionally produced. It's like the same price as a paper book. And the vast, vast majority of books that are available on Amazon are now available on Audible. So, for people who prefer to listen to content rather than read it on paper, they've got an option which costs the same and is just easier for them to consume.

    And as human beings, we've been around for millions of years. We were a communicative conversational species before we took to paper. There definitely been a lot more genetic selection for conversation than for paper. And another thing that probably all of you have used already today is word prediction. When you open up your phone and you start to type a couple of letters, word prediction, that was originally designed for people who could not communicate.

    Whenever I was making software, 28 years ago, for people with cerebral palsy, who had really slow motion and dexterity, that word prediction was designed to sort of speed up their input and make it easier for them to write because of their motion and dexterity issue. It's now completely universal and everyone uses word prediction. And actually, that's one of the things that our Read&Write product does. It takes that word prediction and it puts it into Microsoft Word on your desktop or Google Docs or Outlook, wherever you're working.

    And if you're not a confident writer and you type a couple of letters, we'll look back at the context of the writing and predict the word that you probably want to write. And even if you make a spelling mistake, and if you we're going to type phone as F-O, we'll predict the word P-H-O-N-E if you type F-O. When you embrace this technology, it ends up getting used by many, many, many more people. But the key to this is making it universally available. So, making closed captions universally available is good for everyone. Making ramps universally available is good for everyone. The key thing here is, not pigeonholing it to a subset of the population, but a specific disability make the improvement available to everyone.

    Yeah. And then, thinking about, that makes it easier for people with dyslexia or motion and dexterity issues. But what of the strengths that they can bring to work? People with dyslexia are not very good at reading. If I take my glasses off.... Actually, I have to put my glasses back on to read my speaking notes. That's not a unique talent. I'm not good at reading when I take my glasses off. When I put my glasses on, I can read.

    People with dyslexia are really good at spotting patterns. There's been a bunch of scientific research around this. The piece of our brain that non-dyslexic people use when they're reading. Dyslexic people use that for pattern recognition. And it's a really powerful piece of our brain, and that's why you see so many dyslexic people going into data analysis, design, architecture. It's a skill that they're better at than most people. They just think they work differently.

    And just because people are different, it doesn't mean they can't bring huge strengths to work. People with ADHD can be absolutely hyperfocused. And very often, they're really good in software testing environments. People with dyslexia are deliberately hired by GCHQ, which is the UK's spy agency like the US' version of the NSA. And they're deliberately hired to work in the encryption teams and code breaking teams, because they think a little bit differently. And having that diversity of thought is really important in an organization.


    Did we switch to the next slide, Martin?

    Martin McKay:

    Oh, has it happened yet?


    Oh, back one.

    Martin McKay:

    Oh. Yeah.


    Yeah. That's on the unique talents.

    Martin McKay:

    Oh, yes, yes.

    Okay. So, I've spoken through most of this one now. But dyslexic people really do think differently. Very often, they're sought after by GCHQ. I was saying, software testing teams, very often, searched for people who have got ADHD because they can be really, really focused. EY have a hiring program for people with autism, again, working in data analysis, and they're super detail-oriented very often.

    In the same way that you might want to hire a tall person to work in a library because they can reach high sales, maybe you wouldn't. These people all have got something unique about them that makes them really suitable for specific roles, and those roles are probably in your organization.

    And so, when we support these different work styles, people are able to really fulfill their potential, do the thing that they're really good at. We talk about it sometimes with spending your superpower. It's actually because you're not good at reading, it's because that portion of your brain is given over to some other task. You're really good at something else. And so, if you can find your superpower, that really will unlock a fantastic career for you.

    Actually, they're not really customers, they're partners at EY. They've recently made a bunch more licenses available of our Read&Write product, because just lots of people have who hadn't disclosed their dyslexia or discomfort around reading and writing, and they just had a huge demand for it. And so, EY have expanded that. Actually, EY are fantastic organization in that regard.

    So, I'm just going to read this slide out. Organizations that prioritize neurodiversity and inclusion are just better placed to attract, and retain, and develop diverse talent. In the same way that... In the senior team in our organization, we have got really good gender balance that is helping attract young female tech workers into our business, and there's a low representation of young women in programming and software development. But whenever they see leaders in our organization who are successful women, it attracts women into the business.

    And it should be the same with neurodiverse people. If you get neurodiverse people into your organization and support them... I mean, you'll retain and grow those people, and really unlock their potential. And the more that we do that, the better everything gets for everyone.

    Actually, that's the end of my... This has gone a little bit faster than I had anticipated, but that's the end of my presentation. I think we're going to have some questions now. But if you want to find out more about textile and our products, you can go to texthelp.com/workplace.


    I've just popped that into the chat if anybody needs it written down. It's all in the chat for anybody watching.

    Martin McKay:

    Brilliant, Samantha. Thank you. We've done an inclusion white paper, and that's also on-screen. So, it's text.help/inclusion-whitepaper. That should be shorter. That's too hard to remember. And you can find a white paper I co-authored with disability in. And in that white paper, there's some advice to help you create a more neuroinclusive work environment, and you can also see the results from the research which I mentioned earlier.

    So, that's the end of my presentation. Samantha...


    Yeah, I have got some questions. Thank you ever so much. That was incredibly informative.

    And just a couple of questions that have come through. Somebody's just asked, "With Texthelp helping organizations to improve inclusion at work, what do you think is the biggest hurdle?"

    Martin McKay:

    Yeah. That's a really good question. And I think the big hurdle, if you get lots of big mature organizations who got good disability provision, but they require people to self-identify for the hidden disabilities, and people just don't want to do that. So, it's getting to that point of universal provision, just making it available to everyone and saying, "Hey, these tools are here, they're there to use." Rather than people having to go and put their hand up and say, "I'm dyslexic."

    There's an education piece that has to come first. Sharing the benefits of universal provision to the decision makers in the business. So, for anyone that's come up against that hurdle, I would just reiterate what I said earlier. The benefit of providing support like this inclusive technology to all people is you're not asking them to self-identify, and you'll end up with a much higher uptake. And that's something that a lot of people don't feel comfortable putting their hand up and saying they're dyslexic. A lot of people are embarrassed about it. They shouldn't be. It's like, blue eyes versus-


    Right. You're removing that barrier, aren't you? And that's the biggest barrier, I think, is people having to... Especially before they learn the culture of a business. Because sometimes, it takes a while to learn what the culture of a business is like, before you can actually feel comfortable enough to go to HR or the line manager to say, "I might need a bit of extra support."

    So, if it's there from the offset, I think it takes away that big problem, doesn't it?

    Martin McKay:

    And particularly, straight up to recruitment, people often... Certainly, younger people don't have the confidence to go to their employer. But if the employer gets ahead of that and says, "Hey, just so that you're aware, we know that we've got lots of dyslexic employees at work. If you're dyslexic, we support you with these tools and so on." It's a super easy thing to do.


    And so, from a personal perspective, Martin, what's the greatest learning or most exciting experience you've had relating to diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

    Martin McKay:

    The greatest learning. I would say, it's been... Working with EY... We work closely with EY, and I think our further ahead than anyone with this, that they're so enthusiastic about the impact. In fact, all of our customers, when they get it in there, they're just so enthusiastic because they can see the change that it's made.

    But EY, I think, are special. They train and support neurodivergent professionals globally. And they've actually got 18 neurodiversity centers of excellence. And they actively recruit them, support them. And now, they're actually taking that knowledge and providing neurodiversity consulting to very large enterprises like Procter & Gamble.

    And they've actually done a bunch of research in this. By training and supporting their staff... Actually, they've calculated that they've generated $650 million of return on investment from their neurodiversity work, and the Canada focus on it. And they've got this... Specifically, their autism program, they've saved 2.6 million hours from solutions that they've created by using people with autism in the development process.


    I can appreciate that massively because I think that... When I look at a project, for example, coming from an event management background, I want people in the pops that are going to think differently to me, why would you not want a 360 degree input into a project? And you can't get that from having completely neurotypical people in that group.

    So, it's hugely beneficial to have people that think a little bit differently to the others.

    Martin McKay:

    You're completely right, because you end up with a user-experience that's designed by neurotypicals. Or neurotypicals instead of a user-experience that is a broader view from the outset and that is more inclusive.

    But from a business perspective, that means that you're making products and services that reach a wider audience, and that's why it's better for business. You end up with increased sales, reaching more people. Yeah.



    Well, I think we're nearly out of time, so I'm just going to do a quick recap. First of all, I love the idea that these tools can be embedded across the board to avoid that need to disclose anything that people aren't comfortable with. That's the most important thing, I think, to take away from this, is making it accessible for everybody. A bit like your ramp example, it's perfect.

    From the reports at the beginning, the very, very damning and three quarters of people feeling that they don't want to disclose, I think that if we can cover that hurdle and avoid that barrier, then we are halfway there.

    Removing barriers. And with the average reading age of nine... I'm quite shocked by that. That's really got me thinking, looking at different ways that companies can do things. And from an HR perspective, really looking at, if we've got 10% of dyslexic employees in the workplace, we really need to be addressing how we're doing all of the communications within the company.

    So, thank you very, very much for joining us today, everybody.

    Thank you once again, Martin, for a fantastic session. I, for one, have learned lots. Those solutions and insights are critical for all workplaces across the board. So, thank you. It's been an absolute pleasure.

    Martin McKay:

    Thank you. Pleasure for me, too. Thank you for the prompts when my slides didn't advance. I appreciate-


    My pleasure. Thanks, Martin. Thanks, everybody.


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