A forthcoming residency by artist Sean Burn, supported by Arts Council England’s Change Makers initiative.
As part of his residency, ‘Reclaiming the languages of lunacy’, on Monday 24 April and Tuesday 25 April, Sean will be performing and leading a creative workshop based at The Art House for artists who have lived experience of mental distress. We are putting out an open call for this workshop, any artists that may be interested.
The Dyslexia Adult Network (DAN) is a coalition of organisations and specialists working at a national level with adults with dyslexia. We also cover Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder and Dyscalculia – sometimes known as neurodivergent (ND). The issues that cause the most difficulty to this population relate to employment in its many aspects: recruitment, support, progression and career development, disclosure and workplace awareness.
Advantages of having dyslexic employees
The benefits to employers of employees with dyslexia (in particular) comprise a skillset which includes creativity, innovative and ‘blue sky’ thinking, the ability to grasp an overview, see links and connections and highly-developed visual-spatial skills.
Professor Roderick Nicholson highlights that high-profile corporations including the BBC, Virgin and Google are successful because they encourage dyslexic people in senior roles – see his TED talk. Research from the Cass Business school flags up high numbers of successful entrepreneurs with dyslexia: an area that has become ever more important in the BREXIT landscape. Very recent research by Margaret Malpas, founder of DAN, showed that many adults ascribe their talents to dyslexia. Her book, Self Fulfilment withDyslexia: a blueprint for success, published this week, is a “how to” book on acquiring the ten characteristics that many successful dyslexic adults share. It also contains inspiring stories from successful adults who battled against the odds that their education had dealt them.
HABIA (The Hair and Beauty Industry Authority) is a beacon of good practice, redesigning all its training materials to be dyslexia-friendly. This sector consists of hairdressing, beauty therapy, nail services, spa therapy and barbering.
Identifying recruitment as a key area, we are engaged with the Westminster AchieveAbility Commission on Recruitment on Dyslexia/ND running from Oct 2016-Oct 2017 http://www.achieveability.org.uk/main/policy/new-commissionOur final report (Oct 2017) will highlight barriers to successful employment and flag up good practice.
Accessibility is an important issue for people with disabilities, whether this is the physical aspect of workplace for wheelchair users or documents in braille for people who use this communication method. When considering dyslexia/ND a number of things can be done to enable better access to employment :
Documentation well spaced, in font at least size 12, on off-white paper.
On-line communications that enable the use of assistive technology such as text reading software
Job application processes that clearly state the skills required
An alternative to psychometric testing because this will usually probe areas of difficulty but not assess areas of strength associated with dyslexia/ND.
But most of all we need awareness of these widespread conditions that affect around 10% of the population representing a huge well of (often) untapped potential. Access to Work should provide workplace assessment, aids and support but all too often the service is inadequate, leading to frequent complaints to DAN.
Dyslexia and Apprenticeships
Data from 2010-11 showed that 18,940 learners participating on an apprenticeship programme self-declared dyslexia; this has been a feature of the winners of Apprentice of the Year.
Employers can expect people who come to them via this ‘on-the-job training’ route to have a higher than usual incidence of dyslexia – and should be prepared to support them. The National Apprenticeship Service is working on an action plan aimed at improving support provisions and exam accessibility using assistive technology.
Government commitment to halving the Disability Employment Gap
This BBC initiative is timely now that the government Green Paper on Disability and Employment ‘Improving Lives’ is under consideration. We welcome the idea of work coaches, as long as they are well trained, and the aim of changing employer attitudes. We hope that Disability Confident can become more robust in order to encourage a sea change in employer take-up of people with disabilities.
However the emphasis on health and a medical model is inappropriate to a number of common disabilities, including dyslexia/ND.
The disability-friendly workplace
In order to welcome diversity, the workplace should take the following steps:
listen to (potential) employees with disabilities explain their strengths and their reasonable adjustments needs– which may be very low cost
allow more flexibility so that employees can reach agreed goals in their own ways
encourage disability networks for mutual support.
The Unions have an important role to play in diverse workplace
Enabling Success for Adults with Dyslexia is a conference by the British Dyslexia Association with Dyslexia STEM, kindly hosted by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), Friday, 28 April 2017 in Watford.
This conference will explore how individuals can acquire the characteristics that successful individuals with dyslexia or related conditions, share. It will also look at how networks and groups, organisations and infrastructure can encourage and inspire success. There will be speakers and case studies throughout.
Keynote speakers include:
Professor Amanda Kirby who has developed the Do It Profiler, a super screener with resources for adults. Prof. Kirby will be able to tell us about its use in many workplaces creating research findings on literally thousands of adults with dyslexia.
Margaret Malpas, MBE, Joint Chair of the B.D.A. and author of the new book “Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint for Success” which is being published in all English speaking countries on 21 February. The book describes the ten characteristics, underpinned by research, that successful dyslexic adults, share. “Dyslexia won’t stop you from writing your own success story. Approach the obstacles of dyslexia pro-actively, and unlock your potential with this inspiring step by step guide”.
Chris D’Souza – Chris is currently the BG Integration Programme Director at Shell. He has worked at Shell for 16 years in a number of global roles in operations and Information Technology. In 2016, together will colleagues from Shell’s enAble network and training from the BDA, he helped setup the Shell Dyslexia Mentoring programme, where he is a trained mentor.
This will be a very popular conference and we therefore encourage delegates to book now to secure your place by clicking on this link, or visiting the ‘Event’ section of the BDA website.
In future, museums will mainly be places of human encounters. Lingusio is more than just an audio guide. Inclusively created content and an unconventional design promote a lively interaction regardless of knowledge or skills. The guide not only recognizes the right of people with disabilities to equally take part with others in cultural activities, but it has a profound impact on the entire museum: Lingusio offers the possibility to see artworks from a whole new perspective to regular visitors, experts, as well as new audience groups.
The innovative audio guide was developed in cooperation with experts in the fields both of museums and people with learning difficulties in order to create a new way to experience a museum visit.
CULTURAL PARTICIPATION INCLUSION & ACCESSIBILITY IN MUSEUMS
The project addresses the inclusion and accessibility of people with learning difficulties in Museums. As determined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations), “States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part in an equal basis with others in cultural life”. Likewise accessibility is a crucial part of the concept and also regularized by law. The regulations apply not only to physical barriers, but also to those with regard to content and mediation.
The project aims to make content more accessible for people with learning difficulties. Moreover, it opens it to a broader public and therefore provides future business ideas for museums in general.
Lingusio is a hardware device that enables the simple and understandable dissemination of content not only for people with learning difficulties but all visitors. The formal difference to an ordinary audio guide is obvious: it’s a scarf. The device features a barrier-free design and intuitive functions that represent a significant improvement over a regular audio guide. Formal and technical aspects of the product follow the principles of universal design.
Lingusio rests on the shoulders of the visitor like a scarf. One end of the device serves as a speaker, the other as volume control. A reader is located in the scarf and enables the automatic identification of the artwork within a certain radius. As soon as the speaker-part of the scarf is raised for listening, the corresponding track starts to play.
Above all, however, the design has a large impact on the handling and therefore also on the behaviour of users. Previously museum visitors were closed off permanently from their environment due to headphones. In contrast, the scarf enables an “open ear” and thus a more conscious perception of the environment.
People with learning difficulties not only have had direct input on the design of the device, but also on the content of the audio guides – making access to museum content simpler and easier for everyone.
In a co-creation workshop, people with learning difficulties and museum educators deal intensively with the artworks of a future exhibition. The aim is to gather three very different descriptions, opinions or ideas for each piece of art. These heterogeneous contents are then transferred to audio guides that are visually distinguished by three different colours.
IMPACT ON THE BEHAVIOR OF VISITORS
The aim of the special design in the shape of a scarf is to share the content with visitors wearing another color. The awareness that he or she might be listening to something else arouses curiosity and encourages people to talk. Lingusio therefore not merely transmit information and broaden perspective, but function primarily as a basis for discussion and facilitate encounters with other visitors.
GOAL AND IMPACT OF THE PROJECT
The goal of the project was to develop a product concept that introduces not only people with learning difficulties to the yet unknown and with numerous psychological barriers afflicted context of museums. The goal was to create something that promotes interaction between all visitors and therefore includes various people. Consequently, the information based on the research with a specific target group has a profound impact on the entire museum, including experts, regular visitors and new audience groups.
A significant personal development of the co-designers in the course of the project could be observed. The initial intimidation created by the museum halls disappeared. All participants were full of self-confidence, curiosity and drive. Having attended the workshop enabled them to move freely and express their opinion about the works in the exhibition.
The active involvement of people with learning difficulties in the development of contents, offers the opportunity to develop creative and intellectual potential – this encourages the participants and allows wide parts of society to partake in this project.
“The project proves that the removal of barriers for people with learning difficulties provides additional value for society as a whole. At the same time, is creates possibilities for innovative business ideas.”
You could win a £10,000 commission for a major British institution and £500 of art materials from Cass Art.
If you would like to watch Portrait Artist of The Year being filmed, heats will take place at The Wallace Collection in London, home to one of Europe’s finest art collections. They are open to the public and will record on the following dates in 2017: Wednesday 5th April, Thursday 6th April, Friday 7th April Monday 10th April, Tuesday 11th April, Wednesday 12th April
An exciting opportunity is coming up at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in March. We are going to be running the two day Makaton Foundation Course at a significantly reduced rate compared to booking it elsewhere. For just £85 (usual price up to £225) you can learn the signs and symbols of the core vocabulary stages 1-4. Makaton is a language used to support children who have limited or no-speech. This course is ideal for those looking to work with SEN groups, early years audiences and for those who wish to make their settings more inclusive.
This course is an essential part of entry criteria for Makaton Regional Tutor training, should you wish to become a Makaton trainer in the future.