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HOW ONE DYSLEXIA FRIENDLY PLATFORM AIMS TO REMOVE BARRIERS IN CREATIVE EDUCATION

HOW ONE DYSLEXIA FRIENDLY PLATFORM AIMS TO REMOVE BARRIERS IN CREATIVE EDUCATION

Last month, we helped to launch a new and free eReading platform called LEO that has been designed to offer advertising students with dyslexia a way to access course material in a form that works for them. It was a project that further opened our eyes to the challenges that dyslexics face, but also just how many dyslexic creatives there are in the industry that are thriving.

I am no expert when it comes to the challenges that people with dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions experience, but I have witnessed and tried to help tackle some of the hurdles impacting those that I’ve worked with.

Dyslexia is a learning difference that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and how they relate to letters and words. It affects areas of the brain that process language – making it more of a challenge to digest information from text than neurotypical experience.

Nine out of ten dyslexics have poor spelling, punctuation and grammar, but many are brilliant communicators and creators. They’re usually better able to connect the dots, see patterns in stories, understand big ideas and are better at explaining them to others – these are just some of the reasons why dyslexia is often referred to as a superpower by the advertising industry.

However, according to research conducted by LEO, thousands of students with dyslexia looking to break into the industry are still being put at a disadvantage due to the reading lists.

LEO was conceived after advertising professional, James Hillhouse, came across a dyslexic student that he was working with through his organisation Commercial Break – a youth transformation agency designed to give working class talent a break in creative industry. The student was considering dropping out of an advertising university course because of the difficulty of the reading lists. James decided to investigate and, after commissioning research, found that almost two thirds of dyslexic students are not able to complete their reading lists, putting them at a disadvantage compared to neurotypical students, and a third are being put off going to university altogether.

It was that finding that inspired James and his business partners Kat Pegler and Alex Fleming to create LEO. The team worked alongside UX designer Evert Martin, who himself has dyslexia, and called upon his own experience with dyslexia growing up to help inform the platform interface and functionality.

LEO allows users to personalise how they consume the content to suit what works best for them, using text customisation, audio and video.

The platform launched with its first book ‘How to do Better Creative Work’ by Steve Harrison, who is regarded as one of the greatest direct marketing creatives of his generation. Each chapter is read by a different creative luminary of the advertising industry, such as Rosie Arnold (BBH and AMVBBDO), Joe Staples (Mother LA), Aidan McClure (Wonderhood Studios) and Stu Outhwaite-Noel (Creature). Staples and McClure are two of the most high-profile creatives in the industry with dyslexia.

Kate Griggs, Founder and CEO of the charity, Made by Dyslexia, once said: “In the real world dyslexia is an advantage, but in education it is a disadvantage”. But, with two more books due to launch on the platform later this year, LEO is on a mission to make the future of education more accessible for dyslexic students, and is calling for the help of authors, brands and potential funders to join the cause and back the platform.

If you’re interested in finding out more about dyslexia and working in the creative industry, check out The Bigger Book of Amazing Dyslexics’, authored by Kathy Forsyth and Kate Power – it’s full of encouragement and wise words from successful dyslexics working in the creative industry, from comedy to architecture.

You can also hear more from Kate Griggs in the video below – she kicks off with a clever stunt when she opens the world’s first dyslexic sperm bank – watch the video to see how she tackles some misconceptions…

MENTORING IS A SUPERPOWER NOT TO BE TAKEN LYING DOWN

MENTORING IS A SUPERPOWER NOT TO BE TAKEN LYING DOWN

I never had a mentor when I was working my way up through the agency ranks, so when someone suggested that I should become one, my initial reaction was to decline. I made the same excuses that I use for avoiding the gym; no time and I don’t have the technique – a classic case of imposter syndrome.

Looking back, I had a subconscious fear of giving the wrong advice and being judged. I thought I wasn’t high profile or experienced enough to be a mentor. It was all in my head but feeling self-conscious is one of the biggest barriers to discovering what could turn out be a mentoring superpower!

To clarify, I’m not claiming that being a mentor makes you a hero (although I love the idea of wearing a cape to my next session), but it does have a positive impact on mental health – for both the mentee and the mentor. And, as many people are still working remotely and are anxious about their futures, the need for a mentor has never been so relevant.

 

What is a mentor?

Not to be confused with coaching, which addresses specific goals, mentoring is about the longer-term holistic development of a mentee. A mentor looks at the bigger picture by assessing overall strengths and weaknesses, and by helping the mentee to realise their own potential for themselves.

So why is mentoring good for mental health?

 

It reduces the feeling of isolation

You don’t have to be living alone or working remotely to feel isolated. Not having anyone to open up to can make your working life feel lonely. Having a mentor, a trusted confidante, can make a huge difference. Simply getting a different perspective and encouraged to find your own solution to a problem gives a sense of relief and empowerment.

K-PowIt helps combat anxiety

Most people experience some level of work-related anxiety, that’s normal. But, add a global pandemic and economic crisis to the mixing pot and anxiety levels can bubble over. It can be hard for people to share their feelings because they’re worried that it will reflect negatively on them, which creates even more anxiety. A mentor helps to get under the skin of the issue; to break it down and tear it apart, before guiding the mentee to find practical ways to move forward.

 

It boosts confidence

Mentees frequently report an increase in their self-confidence because they feel supported.

The relationship with a mentor gives a mentee a safe space to share their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgement. In turn, they get validation from someone with more experience, who they trust and admire. But it’s not just the mentees that benefit. Mentors also experience a confidence boost – the very act of helping someone else to reach their goals, and overcome hurdles provides a sense of achievement.

 

MENTORING MYTHS

A mentor can transform lives but, to do that effectively, you must get past some myths. Here are a few that I overcame:

“I don’t have anything to offer”

Nonsense. You’re a skilled professional that’s being paid to do what you do.

“I don’t have time”

Do what you can. An hour a month is plenty. A mentoring session can happen over a coffee, or a zoom call – whatever works best for you. I’m still too busy for the gym though.

“I’ve never had a mentor, so I can’t be one”

I’m living proof that, that’s not true.

“I cannot relate”

I’m currently mentoring a counsellor with his own practice, an entrepreneur through Virgin StartUp and various people through the PRCA – none of them operate in the sectors that I’m experienced in.

“I am responsible for all of my mentee’s decisions”

Not true. Your role as a mentor is to help the mentee think outside the box and explore all avenues before making ‘their own’ decisions.

spiderman

 

“I haven’t reached my full potential”

That’s good. You’re still striving. But, mentoring isn’t about you reaching your potential, it’s about helping others to reach theirs.

“I can save them!”

I love your enthusiasm and how you’ve moved from imposter syndrome to having a saviour complex! But seriously, mentors aren’t superheroes and are not here to save anyone. But, if they use their superpower wisely, it can be transformative for both parties.

mentoring superwoman