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Curve is a spectacular state-of-the-art theatre based in the heart of Leicester’s vibrant Cultural Quarter. Opened in 2008 by Her Majesty The Queen, our award-winning building, designed by acclaimed architect Rafael Viñoly, offers a completely unique visitor experience. Over 750,000 people annually engage with Curve through performances and projects in Leicester, across the UK, and internationally.
Have you heard of dyspraxia? Many people haven’t, and as such may be tempted to skim past this article assuming it does not apply to them or anyone they know. However, it is a condition that affects around 10% of the population in total, and at least 3-4% in a significant way. So, the chances are that in any classroom or office space there will be a student or colleague who has dyspraxia and needs to be supported. What is Dyspraxia? Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder, also referred to as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Typical symptoms include clumsiness, poor spatial awareness, forgetfulness, and difficultly mastering motor skills. In a formal learning or professional environment, common difficulties can include being overwhelmed by information, problems with spelling, and struggling to read and process information at the same rate as others. Dyspraxia is a lifelong disorder but can often go undiagnosed in children or be confused for other learning difficulties or disabilities. For example, our guest blogger from last year, Daniel Cobb, was not diagnosed until the age of 43. Did you know that over 15% of the population are neurodiverse? As with most other neurological disorders and learning difficulties, dyspraxia is not a marker of intelligence. Those who have it simply have brains that work differently and don’t assimilate information in the same way as other people. You can read more about dyspraxia on the Dyspraxia UK website. Dyspraxia and Web Accessibility Because dyspraxics often suffer from sensory overload, busy web pages with lots of text and many graphics can be overwhelming, and therefore reading and processing on-screen information is difficult. Some colour contrasts also present problems, black text on a white background being particularly hard to read. When you consider that this accounts for the vast majority of websites, it becomes clear that the online world is not as navigable for dyspraxics as it is for other users. This puts them at a significant disadvantage using websites and online communication channels for everyday tasks and can also make job searches much more difficult. Whether it’s using job boards or business sites like LinkedIn and Upwork, or simply registering with a recruitment agency or completing an online application, dyspraxics will need to spend much more time on each task, and the process can be incredibly frustrating. Dyspraxia and Employment Dyspraxia needn’t stop people from being successful or finding their dream job, but employers need to be mindful that dyspraxics on their team may need additional support. At Recite Me, this is something we actively encourage. The average cost of making an adjustment for an employee is typically just a few hundred pounds/dollars, and data shows that employees with disabilities take less time off and tend to stay with companies for longer. So any outlay is almost certainly recouped many times over. Equally importantly, dyspraxia is included in the list of disabilities covered under the Equality Act of 2010, so many employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments. Dyspraxic employees display similar qualities to dyslexics in that they are often creative thinkers and strategic problem solvers, and are generally highly motivated and hard-working. Many modern-day employers see the benefits of a team that includes neurodiverse members, as it allows them to be more progressive and develop better strategies for working effectively. In fact, many top-end companies and organisations actively seek out neurodiverse employees: Facebook – Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently praised a dyspraxic teenager who created a developmental disorders app. GCHQ Intelligence Agency - To maintain operating as a world-class organisation, the agency formally recognises that different kinds of thinkers are required, and admits to placing a high value on candidates who are cognitively different from their peers. Ernst & Young - Senior partners at the company believe that employees with disabilities are more empathetic, more resilient under pressure, and have well- developed coping strategies, making them particularly attractive to the firm. Supporting Dyspraxia Online Recite Me assistive technology is the perfect solution to help businesses and organisations support their neurodiverse team members, as users can make singular or multiple adjustments to adapt the way web content is presented to suit their individual needs. To combat accessibility barriers presented by dyspraxia specifically, the Recite Me toolbar offers: A totally customisable screen reader Options to have content read aloud in over 35 different languages Full control over the speed at which the text is read aloud Customisation options for text font, colour, sizing, and spacing A spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus Find Out More In the increasingly digital landscape of 2020, it has never been more important that everyone has equal access to information online. For further details on becoming more inclusive by utilising our assistive technology, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.
To support all website visitors from around the world Landsec now offers accessibility and language support options on 30 of their leisure and retail websites. Landsec is one of the leading real estate companies in the UK with a portfolio value of £12.8bn spanning across retail, leisure, and residential which includes, Trinity Leeds, Bluewater Shopping Centre, and Xscape Yorkshire. To enable all website visitors across their expanding digital landscape to engage with their retail and leisure outlets barrier-free, they now provide Recite Me assistive technology. This inclusive software provides everyone with the option to customise their online experience to suit their individual needs. The easy-to-use toolbar includes screen reading functionality, styling options, multiple reading aids, and an on-demand live translation feature which boasts over 100 languages include 35 text to speech. Taking this step forward to create an inclusive online world falls in line with Landsec's outlook on diversity and inclusion throughout their business. Mo Kebbay, Landsec’s Diversity & Inclusion Manager, is delighted to be using Recite Me on our website and believes it marks another step forward for Landsec’s D&I journey. Mo commented, “Online inclusion is a central part of our work and we are excited to be working more closely with the team at Recite Me going forward as we aim to break down the barriers for our employees and customers”.
Following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement for a second national lockdown, Recite Me reiterates their pledge to support all businesses in creating an inclusive landing page to enable everyone to read and understand COVID-19 related information. As we enter a second lockdown internet usage will once again spike as we all rely on online communication for everyday tasks. Studies show that around one-in-five people have some form of disability, long-term health condition, or situational impairment, which can make accessing online information challenging. Therefore, when information is vital, it is vital to consider the individual needs of these people by ensuring all online information and digital platforms are accessible to them. CEO and Founder Ross Linnett announced back in March that Recite Me would support all businesses for free to provide accessible Coronavirus information to their staff and customers. Since the start of the Recite Me pledge, we have worked alongside 120 companies to support over 50,000 unique people to access vital information barrier-free. You can request an accessible version of your covid-19 support information by contacting the Recite Me team anytime. Your inclusive page will live within 48 hours of requesting our support. Recite Me CEO, Ross Linnett commented, “Recite Me was a dream to drive change, to be inclusive and to enable everyone to explore and share our online world freely. During these uncertain times Recite Me is here to support businesses across the world to create an accessible message to everyone surrounding Coronavirus. No cost, no agenda, just accessibility for all.” This support will enable people with differing abilities, visual impairments, learning difficulties and people who speak English as a second language to understand their message. The Recite Me accessibility & language support toolbar will automatically launch on your landing page, proving people with a wide range of options including text to speech functionality, fully customisable styling features, reading aids and a translation tool with over 100 languages, including 35 text to speech voices and many other features. Clare Armstrong, Head of Passenger Services at London Luton Airport commented, “Joining the Recite Me pledge has enabled us to communicate our COVID19 message to the widest possible audience. Visitors can customise their viewing experience through a screen reader, styling options, reading aids, and a translation function. "This online support allows London Luton Airport’s key messages to be accessed and understood by all, particularly during these difficult and unsettling times." Any business can visit the Recite Me website now to find out how the free accessible and inclusive landing page works and how to create their own landing page.
Airports are complicated and challenging environments at the best of times, and even more so for travellers with disabilities. Most modern airports have adapted to meet the needs of passengers with mobility issues, but the vast majority are still failing to provide appropriate assistance for passengers with hidden disabilities. For these travellers, accessibility issues begin way sooner in the customer journey, from the very first time they click on an airport’s website… Airports & Online Accessibility Globally, airport websites receive millions of clicks every day and the diversity of site visitors is incredibly wide-ranging. Airport websites are invaluable for passengers looking for arrival and departure information, and for those wanting to book ahead for airport services like car parking, left luggage, lounge access, and special assistance etc. Unfortunately, these details are often inaccessible to the millions of passengers who struggle to access information on websites due to: Vision problems – examples including partial blindness, colour blindness, and deafblindness. Physical disabilities – such as decreased upper body motor function that limits keyboard use, or epileptic customers who may be triggered by graphics on a web page. Learning difficulties – like dyslexia, ADHD, or hyperlexia. Language issues – many foreign tourists do not speak English as a first language. These often-ignored hidden disabilities are perhaps more prevalent in the aviation market than any other, as the sector comprises, by default, a large number of those who are more likely to encounter accessibility barriers: Any tourists who don’t speak English as a first language. Older people with disposable income to spend on travel, but who are more likely to struggle with vision problems and mobility issues. All travellers with hidden disabilities who spend several weeks – or even months – researching their holiday plans online. Data suggests that there are over one billion people globally who have disabilities that form barriers to website accessibility. In the case of airport website visitors specifically, this prevents potential travellers from acquiring the information they need to support them on their journey. Many industry experts claim that this is one of the areas requiring the most attention and improvement, and that by applying principles from the hospitality and travel industry in general, airport operators should be able to improve their inclusion ratings. “The hospitality industry, with its insistence on superb customer service at every customer contact point, shows the direction where airports should be going.” Chris Radcliffe, Accessibility Specialist at Maber The Importance of the Disability Market We already know from industry reports by AMADEUS and The Open Doors Organisation that inaccessible websites are a major barrier for people with disabilities who want to travel. In fact, 53% of disabled travellers surveyed by AMADEUS said they needed help with all or part of the booking process. Accounting for 15% of the global population, the disabled are the world’s largest minority group, so improvements are required as soon as possible to tap into this incredibly lucrative market: Inaccessible websites are the biggest barrier preventing people with disabilities from researching, planning, and booking trips online, with 24% of disabled travellers saying they have problems with the searching, shopping, or booking processes. Adults with disabilities spend an estimated $17.3 billion on travel every year. Travellers would increase their travel budget by up to 34% if accessibility barriers were eliminated. Ultimately, the findings of these reports demonstrate that airports and aviation companies can expand their market, sales, and revenue significantly if they remove the barrier of inaccessible websites. “In both the United States and Europe, the growth in demand for accessibility services is now outpacing the overall rise in passenger numbers.” Laurel van Horn, Open Doors Organisation Accessibility Legislation & Guidelines for Airports It is commonplace in developed countries that there are laws in place to prevent businesses from discriminating against those with disabilities. In the UK, this is covered under the Equality Act of 2010, and in the USA it falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Both laws require companies to make accommodations for people with disabilities, including making websites accessible, yet an astounding number of websites are still not in compliance. “The ADA is the strongest disability nondiscrimination law in the entire world, yet there are far too many businesses and organisations that still either aren’t aware of what the law is, or think they can get away with not complying.” Stacy Cervenka, Nebraska Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired In the transport and aviation industries specifically, there are further regulations laid out in the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), and the Department of Transport (DOT) requires that businesses are in compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Level AA. The DOT has also developed a series of informative materials to assist passengers travelling with disabilities to better understand their rights. However, as many of these are digital, they may not be accessible to those who struggle with hidden disabilities, so their effectiveness is somewhat limited. Industry Leaders Embracing accessibility and becoming inclusive to all customers sets businesses apart from their competitors, and some airports are already leading the way by making information about their services more accessible on their websites One of the best ways to become inclusive is to utilise assistive technology like the Recite Me assistive toolbar. Several airports have already taken this step and are seeing the benefits. Our clients include: Orlando International Airport Gatwick International Airport Heathrow International Airport Nashville International Airport Houston - George Bush Intercontinental Airport London City Airport All of these providers use Recite Me software to let travellers with a wide range of disabilities and impairments easily access their websites and web content. “Gatwick Airport aims to be the UK’s most accessible airport, giving everybody an equal opportunity to fly, and as part of this, it is important for us to make our website easy to use for as many people as possible.” Mandie Armstrong, Digital Communications Manager, Gatwick Airport Assistive Technology Solutions Software solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar helps websites to be totally inclusive through a suite of customisable accessibility and language options. When equipped with Recite Me software, websites become instantly accessible, readable, and much easier to understand. The toolbar has been designed with WCAG principles at the core of the product, but our goal is to do much more than simply ‘tick the box’ on compliance for reasonable adjustments. Recite Me is about creating a totally inclusive digital environment, where users can: Personalise font size, type, and colour options to make each web page easier to read. This is beneficial to readers who have dyslexia, dyspraxia, colour blindness, or decreased vision in general. Download content as an audio file, which is great for those with vision problems. Access text to speak functions in 35 different languages, which is beneficial for all site visitors with English literacy issues. The text can be read aloud at different speeds with either a male or female voice, which is great for autistic users too. Utilise the screen mask and ruler, allowing those with ADHD and other attention disorders to focus rather than being distracted by other content on the page. Convert text content into over 100 different on-screen languages, which is ideal for those for whom English is not their first language. Make use of the toolbar’s built-in dictionary and thesaurus to check word definitions. This is particularly important for users with conditions like hyperlexia, who can read words but not necessarily understand their meaning. Switch to “text-only” mode. This feature is favoured by those with conditions like Epilepsy, as they can strip away any media or graphics that may cause a seizure. What The Data Says On average, airports providing Recite Me accessibility and language support witness: Over 20,000 launches of the toolbar every month Over 98,000 pages being viewed every month View time of almost 5 pages per session, compared to the average internet journey depth of just 2 pages per visit. Toolbar Feature Usage Across a range of actions including checking flights times, researching access information, or booking parking or hotel stays etc., the breakdown on usage of our toolbar features is: Screen Reader – 58% Translation – 28% Styling – 14% This data proves a more inclusive experience with site visitors using a range of accessibility functions, choosing to stay on accessible websites for longer, and in many cases continuing to point of sale to book services. With accessibility factors having such a significant impact on sales (and therefore revenue and profit), the business case for adopting assistive technology to create a more inclusive customer journey is clear. It’s not simply the logical thing to do, however, being inclusive is the right thing to do. Why should some people miss out on the same travel opportunities and privileges as the rest of society, just because they struggle to access or assimilate information in the same way? And especially at a time when the sector is already struggling to bounce back from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, businesses should be casting their net as wide as possible in order to achieve a larger customer base. Get Recite Me for Your Website It has never been more important that all customers can access and understand information online, so now is the time to join the thousands of companies who have already made positive steps towards becoming digitally inclusive by installing Recite Me assistive technology on their websites. If you’d like more details on how your business can use our assistive technology, please feel free to contact our team or book a demonstration of our toolbar.
HFE is a health, fitness and education training provider to the active leisure sector that specialises in qualifications designed to prepare learners for a career as an exercise professional. Their qualifications, which are delivered in both a blended and online format, include fitness instructor, personal trainer, yoga teacher, Pilates teacher, and many more. Certificating over 3,000 learners every year, HFE are certainly leading the way in the provision of fitness industry education and qualifications.
The SNC Lavalin Group has launched Recite Me assistive technology across their careers platform to create a fully inclusive experience. Recite Me’s inclusive digital tools enable all website visitors to customize their journey and make it work best for them. It also helps SNC Lavalin to widen their talent pool as part of their inclusive approach to employment. SNC Lavalin is a world-leading engineering and project management company with over 50,000 employees worldwide, with offices in over 50 countries and operations in over 160 countries. SNC Lavalin is constantly looking for people who experience the world and its problems differently to uncover hidden talent. In the UK, around half of people with disabilities are in employment (53.2%), compared with 81.8% non-disabled people. This represents an abundance of overlooked talent and Recite Me is able to support SNC Lavalin to remove barriers online and engage with everyone. “Recite Me goes to the very heart of our values. It's helping us build a diverse, inclusive environment where we respect, understand, and value different people – starting with how we recruit them.” Victoria Jones, Head of Recruitment UK & Europe, SNC Lavalin To enhance a candidate’s experience online and enable people to engage with their business easily Recite Me provides all website visitors a range of tools to customise their experience in any way to suit their accessible and language needs. These inclusive options include text to speech functionality, fully customizable styling features, reading aids and a translation option with over 100 languages, including 35 text-to-speech voices and many other features. In the first five months of Recite Me being launched on the SNC Lavalin careers website the toolbar has been used nearly 5,000 times.
Introduce yourself and your company Hi, I’m Kathryn and I own Cura Financial Services. We offer support to people that are having difficulty getting insurance policies like life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection. A lot of the people that we speak to have health conditions and have found getting insurance tricky, or impossible. I struggled to get insurance myself due to my health and we’ve made it our mission to help as many people like me as possible. What is your D&I mission for this year and beyond? Since 2012 we have been fighting for fairer access to insurance for people with health conditions, hazardous jobs, high-risk travel and sports. For the last couple of years we have been thinking about the very initial stage of insurance. We have a lot of experience helping people to get insurance, but we started to wonder, is insurance easily accessible for people that are deaf, blind or have conditions like dyslexia. We started doing some research and realised that there are a lot of barriers. Insurance documentation is full of jargon, it’s not often in a format that works with screen readers, not many companies are able to offer sign language specialists. Our aim is to build a kind of best practice guide for organisations within the insurance industry, to take steps to make their services more accessible. Can you share some D&I best practice examples? A big thing for me is to not make assumptions, I’m a big believer that no two people are the same. Just because you have supported someone that is deaf and they liked to chat by email, that doesn’t mean that every one that is deaf will. Others may want to use a sign language interpreter as that is their native language. We have people that need us to communicate specifically by email due to hearing conditions, that need to speak on the phone as auditory information suits them best and others that like to video call. There is always room to learn and it’s incredibly important to be reactive to everyone’s individual needs. What are you doing across your digital landscape to be inclusive? Part of our work has been the integration of Recite Me onto our website and promoting it’s benefits to our peers. The document reading, customisation and language translation are really impressive. I write a lot of content on our website and do videos and podcasts too. Our videos all have subtitles and both the videos and podcasts are transcribed to improve accessibility. I write pages for individual health conditions so that people can access specific information and case studies relevant to their situation. It makes the information relatable and doesn’t bombard people with unnecessary information. Can you share an example of D&I success at your organisation? Our success comes from years of building knowledge on how insurance works, why insurers make certain decisions and which insurers are going to be right for a person’s individual circumstances. We regularly help people that have been told that they are uninsurable to get insurance. This doesn’t mean silly pricing, or dodgy wording! It’s just being able to understand medical conditions and how the insurance industry works. We have over 150 individual health conditions pages on our website and the list keeps growing. We regularly help people that have had cancer, heart attacks, strokes or are living with HIV, multiple sclerosis to get insurance. I specialise in helping people with mental health conditions to get insurance, providing an empathetic and non-judgemental journey for them. Concluding message you would like people to take away I would like people to take away from this, that improving accessibility to your organisation, shouldn’t be a side project or something that you’ll eventually get around to. It is simply the right thing to do. Someone said to me recently “It’s not what people do that you remember, it’s how they have made you feel”. For people that are still on the fence, there is a business argument for this too. It’s estimated that roughly 1 in 5 people have a disability and inaccessible websites are missing out on £11.75 billion in the UK. There’s a huge amount of money to be made from being more accessible, so you can increase your turnover and also be doing the right thing!
Over the past 12 months Recite Me has made over 520,000 charity and not-for-profit organizations website pages accessible, and on average we’ve supported over 15,000 people every month in accessing barrier-free charity information through our web accessibility technology. And we’re just getting started… The charity and not-for-profit sector is well known for supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. So it makes sense that many organizations are taking the lead in tackling web accessibility in 2020 as a way of championing as many beneficiaries as they can. This year, in particular, has seen many vulnerable individuals become isolated due to lock down and shielding measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is vital that digital inclusion factors are considered by as many organizations as possible to ensure that online information is not just available, but accessible to all. In recent months as the effects of COVID-19 restrictions continue to linger, we’ve noticed a trend in the growing number of charity and not for profit organizations that are signing up to use Recite Me assistive technology, and we now support over 50 different charitable organizations including: Amnesty International National Alliance on Mental Illness The Prince’s Trust Meningitis Now American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Just 4 Children Several NHS Trusts Disability Rights groups across America Web Accessibility & Charity Values Many readers will naturally assume that a significant percentage of organizations in the not for profit sector is supporting disabled users who face web accessibility barriers and that this is the sole reason behind the upturn of sign-ups in 2020. However, this is not the case, as while many charities do embrace assistive technology to support their beneficiaries, the target audience for charity websites goes way beyond that, and categories within the sector are way more all-encompassing than disability organizations alone. Examples include: Animal welfare charities International NGOs Environmental campaign charities Education charities Arts and culture charities Community development charities Human rights charities The vast majority of charities and not for profits rely on the internet not just to communicate with their subscribers and recipients, but to communicate their values and attract supporters, ambassadors, and benefactors. This is something that becomes increasingly difficult if websites are not accessible. The simple fact is that the more an organization does to provide access to information, the more people it can reach. This year especially, this has become incredibly important in the charity sector, as with so many people struggling financially it is harder than ever to recruit sponsors and donations. By their very nature, charities and not for profits actively work towards equality and inclusion for all. In the modern-day world, and in 2020 in particular, so much of what we do is online that if we don’t take web accessibility seriously then people will be excluded. This, in turn, creates a two-tiered society, something which the charity sector works incredibly hard to avoid. So the shared values between charity goals and the benefits of web accessibility are very clear here. What the Data Says We already know that 71% of web users simply leave a site that they find hard to use, and 83% of people with access needs limit their browsing to sites that they know are accessible. So it’s always rewarding to know that our technology is making a genuine difference to people’s lives. Let’s take a look at some of the statistics from our charity clients so far this year: Toolbar launches – Depending on the size and scope of the charity, numbers vary, but most medium-sized organizations show toolbar launches in the thousands. National charities average 20,000+ toolbar launches, whereas smaller or regional charities record toolbar launches of 6,000-15,000. Pageviews per visit – On average, Recite Me users view 3.5 pages of an accessible website per visit, which is higher than the average internet journey depth of just 2 pages per visit. Translations – Again, numbers will vary depending on the size and scope of the charity, but some charity websites report as many as 72,000 translations. How Assistive Technology Removes Web Accessibility Barriers Solutions like the Recite Me assistive toolbar provide options to make multiple adjustments on any given web page to make the contents easier to read. Bespoke changes can be made to the text, graphics, and the way the information is consumed (visual or audio), plus on-screen tools make the pages easier to focus on. This makes websites accessible for those who struggle with a range of conditions, including: Visual impairments Deafblindness Colour blindness Dyslexia Hyperlexia Dyspraxia ADHD Speaking English as a second language Epilepsy Mobility and physical impairments Charities and not for profits provide a wide range of services including information, advice, training, education, and digital resources. As such, charity websites are often among some of the most complex for users to access, making web accessibility a top priority. Recite Me is very proud to be leading the way in this sector and helping so many people to access the information they need online. “We believe everyone should be able to access our information and services barrier-free, and Recite simply helps us deliver this in a way that is straight forward for the user and, for a charity that doesn’t receive government funding, in a cost-effective manner. " David Clifford, Digital Marketing Manager at Meningitis Now You can find out more about the charities that use Recite Me software in our sector pages. If you would like to speak to one of the team about booking a demonstration of our assistive toolbar or would like any further information, please contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.
The life-changing University of Sunderland has 20,000 students based in campuses on the North East coast, in London and Hong Kong and at its global partnerships with learning institutions in 15 countries. They have a long-established commitment to widening participation, world-leading research, public and private sector collaborations and their track record for providing quality student experiences that result in graduates who are the tomorrow-makers of society and the economy.
Everyone has friends, colleagues or family members who have dyslexia. You may not know it, and those who have dyslexia may not even know it themselves. But it’s a condition that impacts at least 10-15% of the population, and many more cases beyond this go undiagnosed. So it’s a simple fact that it affects way more people than you’d think. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty close to our hearts as our founder and CEO, Ross Linnett, is himself dyslexic, and Recite Me was borne out of his passion to make the online world a more accessible place for others like himself. What is Dyslexia? Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterised by problems with reading, writing, and spelling, particularly when it comes to word order and identification. Additional factors that complicate comprehension for dyslexics include font choice, font size, and colour contrasts between written text and the background. Those who suffer from dyslexia may also experience problems with attention span, organization, and timekeeping. What dyslexia is not, is a marker of decreased intelligence. When diagnosed early, children with dyslexia can achieve just as much as any other student. But they will likely need additional tutoring or a tailored education program, as they do not fit into the normal education model of reading and written exams. As awareness of dyslexia increases, schools and colleges are becoming better at identifying signs and symptoms, which in turn means more tools and support for dyslexic students. However, the condition can often go undetected for many years, and in some cases (as with Ross) is not identified until adulthood. This puts dyslexics at a much higher risk of exclusion. A Dyslexics Story As Recite Me’s mission is to make the internet a better place for dyslexics, we asked Ross a few questions so we can share his story with you. The chances are that you or someone you know will share a very similar experience… When you were at school and university, did you ever suspect that your learning style was significantly different from your friends? "Yes. When I was at school I definitely suspected there was something different about the way my brain was working and learning. I was very strong in subjects that didn't have a lot of English, but weak in those that required large amounts of reading or writing. The thing that stood out most was that these weaknesses never really improved no matter how hard I worked on them, whereas with other subjects I got better the more effort I put in. Interestingly, I once said to my English teacher I thought I might be dyslexic, but she dismissed the idea and told me I was being stupid!" What did you struggle with the most in an academic setting? "The thing that I struggled with the most was reading aloud. Basically, I just couldn't do it. I managed to keep my inability/slowness in reading hidden for the most part, but you can't hide when you have to read out loud. I was very confident and happy in school, but the thought of reading in front of the class used to scare the life out of me." What was your feedback from your teachers when you were at school? "Interestingly, the teacher who told me not to be stupid when I said I thought I was dyslexic was very supportive and wanted to help me a lot. She did pass my writing over to a special needs teacher, but she also dismissed that I was dyslexic without even giving me a test. If either of these teachers had been more open-minded, and particularly if the special needs teacher had done a more thorough job, I think my academic experience would have been completely different. However, I do believe that having to work hard and find my own adjustments instead of being given support has provided me with some advantages." When were you diagnosed with dyslexia? "Not until after I had graduated from university. I was giving a presentation and was writing some notes down on paper when a colleague commented that I was displaying all the signs of dyslexia. At this time I was really searching for answers because, in the run-up to exams in the final year of my engineering degree, I had been one of the students that was showing all the others how to answer questions in the mock exams. It was clear I had a lot more knowledge than many of my course mates, yet in a final exam environment I never finished within the allotted time and other students were beating me by up to 20%. A classic sign of dyslexia is taking much longer in exams." How does dyslexia affect your life the most? "The biggest problem areas are still reading and writing. However, within Recite Me, the vast amount of communications I do are internal. Luckily it’s my company, so everybody has the understanding that messages will come through with grammatical errors, and in some cases be hard to understand. It's all about the acceptance of that, rather than me spending two or three times longer trying to make something perfect. The whole mission of our product is to support those who learn and communicate differently, so having a solid internal understanding of how that works in a real-life setting is actually really great for the team. " What changes have you made internally to make the company more Dyslexia aware? "A limited attention span is a common dyslexic trait, so we try to keep meeting lengths down as much as possible - which comes with the added advantage of making our meetings much more efficient and focused. Did you know that Winston Churchill was dyslexic? He would often refuse to have a meeting longer than 20 minutes, and if he can run an entire war operation this way, I'm confident that our business and any other company can also manage!" Dyslexia as a Positive It is common for those who struggle with dyslexia to try and hide it as much as possible, just as Ross did when he was younger. However, being dyslexic is not necessarily a disadvantage as it comes with amplified competence in other areas such as analytical thinking, big-picture thinking, and heightened creativity in general. These are incredibly sought after skills in some of the world’s biggest industries and are particularly useful in areas like IT, analytics, architecture, design, fashion, science, and medicine etc. In fact, some of the world’s most famous innovators have been dyslexic. Prominent examples include Sir Richard Branson, Agatha Christie, and Albert Einstein. In today’s world of constantly evolving technology and fast-paced change, there is more space than ever for those with enhanced problem solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills – all areas in which dyslexics typically excel. However, to provide the best opportunities possible, education institutions and businesses must have a support system in place to allow those who learn and process information differently to succeed. How Technology Can Help Dyslexics can be supported easily through the use of technology like the Recite Me assistive toolbar. Recite Me is perfect for those who have dyslexia as it allows users to: Have text from any website read-aloud to them Download and save any written web content as an MP3 file Choose the exact colour contrast between the text and background Change the font type and size Zoom in on any part of a webpage Use the built-in spell-checker and a fully integrated dictionary and thesaurus It also helps people who suffer from a wide range of other disabilities and impairments such as hyperlexia, ADHD, decreased vision, colourblindness, epilepsy, physical disability, and those who speak English as a second language. Find Out More If you’d like to learn more about supporting your students or workforce with our dyslexia-friendly assistive software, please feel free to contact our team for more information or a book a real-time demonstration of our toolbar. Dyslexia week 2020 is currently underway and runs from the 5th-11th of October. Free dyslexia resource packs for schools, colleges and workplaces are available online via the British Dyslexia Association website.