Dragons Duncan Bannatyne, Kelly Hoppen and Peter Jones are dyslexic
If they booked to use your service, would you know what to do?
Anticipating the adjustments to make for dyslexia is a requirement for service providers under the Equality Act 2010, but I’ve found this path has yet to be followed by most of the organisations I have had dealings with. Here’s why...
Like the Dragons' Den trio, I am dyslexic and so is one out of every five entrepreneurs in the UK. Dyslexia is classed as a ‘learning disability’ under the Equality Act 2010, but I find often that the biggest disabler in any given situation is the environment itself. In the right space with the right communication methods I am not disabled. Any ‘disabling’ effect comes from the manner in which information givers expect me to process, store and use that information. Their expectations create barriers which I then have to overcome.
I decided to address the barriers by launching a business. In the first 15 months of pre-trading I’ve done the circuit: start-up programmes; training, conferences; networking; social media.
In that time I have seen a familiar pattern: organisations, of all shapes and sizes, not adjusting for dyslexics, and not reaping the business rewards that come from it. Most seem willing to make adjustments but only once they have been told what to do by their clients.
Such a strategy places the onus for the quality of provision on the client, and is likely to fail for 2 main reasons:
1. It relies on ALL dyslexic clients being self-aware and organised enough in advance to get a service adjusted for their needs.
Many can explain the adjustments they need, but ask yourself how many of your clients have actually done so? If the 20% of your client group who are dyslexic are keeping quiet about their needs, then you have an issue: they may be getting less value from your service.
2. It is common for adults with dyslexia not to know that they are dyslexic.
Sir Jackie Stewart, Michelle Mone and Theo Paphitis all left school without recognition of their dyslexia, only finding out much later in life and when they were well into their careers. My blog on stealth dyslexia in women shows that schools generally identify only obvious examples. In this situation your clients are aware that aspects of your service are not as effective for them
as they are for others but they can’t let you know why.
So what it the way forward?
Well, when trainers, mentors, coaches and advisers have adjusted for dyslexia they reap benefits in respect of results and reputation. And the Equality Act points the way: anticipate the adjustments that are likely to be needed and put them in place.
Offer alternatives as standard, that way it won’t matter if you know whether someone is dyslexic or not. Then if Duncan, Kelly and Peter turn up at your door to buy your service, they’ll not declare “I’m out”.
Jan Halfpenny writes, conducts research and trains organisations and individuals on dyslexia and business.
Recent research on dyslexic entrepreneurs: In Their Element: The Case for Investing in Dyslexic Entrepreneurs