Is Everything Clear? How this Election’s Media Coverage will be the Most Dyslexia-friendly Ever.
The media coverage of the forthcoming UK General Election is destined to be the most dyslexia-friendly ever, potentially engaging 4,000,000 voters more closely with the political process. This is because the multi-sensory formats of the media’s election broadcasts helps voters with information processing differences such as dyslexia and ADHD to absorb the issues more deeply and for longer.
The main game-changer is the number of user-friendly options the ‘hidden disability voter’ now has:
1. If you don’t engage with a political debate because of the anxiety of being in a noisy, packed room, then switch on any TV channel and watch others do it for you, from the comfort of your own space.
2. If processing every word live in the moment isn’t for you then just pause the TV, record it or press the red button and examine the issues later at your leisure.
3. If none of the talking heads are doing it for you then why not engage with the digital graphics instead, where beaming presenters or websites will deliver bar charts and pie charts in an explosion of colour and artistic flair? No need to process words, just compare the relative sizes of the party colours to find out which way the wind blows.
4. For voters not inclined to decode graphs or process droning talking heads, the option of listening to events on the radio can bring superb insights. Local radio stations will feature the election from angles that TV can only dream of, and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme will haul in the usual suspects first thing in the morning to ask them awkward questions while we judge them from our bed.
However, all these dyslexia-friendly advancements in media engagement pale in comparison to the twist that social media now gives to the voter with a processing difference.
Social media enables voters to process and communicate information on their own terms, rather than fitting in with how politicians and the media want you to speak. It’s Donald Trump’s not-so-secret weapon. With more information at their fingertips than ever before and available in friendly processing formats, voters with dyslexia can augment their learning, articulate their views and gain access to the political debate more effectively than ever before. Democracy through technology.
Even when all these dyslexia-friendly resources are deployed, some candidates at this election will miss out on vital votes because they will fail to take account of one significant method of absorbing information that dyslexic voters are known to respond well to: kinaesthetic learning. Dyslexic adults tend to learn best through 3D interactive experiences, understanding matters by seeing and experiencing the real thing in front of them. This might mean candidates who appear on the doorstep are helping dyslexic people to grasp their message through seeing and experiencing them in the flesh. Given that around 4,000,000 voters are dyslexic, that’s a lot of votes to be gathered in by the candidates who simply get out of the door and meet the voters face-to-face. Maybe some old ways of campaigning are worth hanging on to after all.
Cameron Halfpenny is Director at Halfpenny Development Ltd.