Museum Hour: Dyslexia

Disability Collaborative Network

These are responses and further information to the questions given on MuseumHour on Monday 7 October 2019.

Neurodivergent people are innovative and creative thinkers. What can we do to inspire these creative minds to work in the Heritage Sector?

There are articles about how creativity and innovation come from the edge of business.

This is needed to keep businesses and the changing user experience relevant to society. 

The organisation doesn’t do this due to fear or lack of confidence, then the sector or the business is in trouble for not moving forward and at risk of becoming irrelevant.

Useful Resources:

Ref Neurodiversity and Creativity Go Hand in Hand:  (Advertising Week) https://www.advertisingweek360.com/neurodiversity-and-creativity-go-hand-in-hand/

Universal Music Group: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/universal-music-ceo-david-joseph-why-im-standing-up-for-difference-a4174601.html T

Prof Maggie Snowling and Michael Rosen: https://dyslexiclibrary.com/2019/02/13/why-we-need-to-name-dyslexia-bbc-interview-with-professor-maggie-snowling/

What do you think are the barriers of dyslexic people working in the Heritage Sector?

Some organisations within the Heritage Sector are support neurodivergent people often through flexible working practices, recognition of the individuals’ strengths and development of good management practice. 

However, it is a postcode lottery in identifying who and where these organisations are. 

It is important for museums to establish good working practice which can benefit the entire team and relate directly to the social model, where social barriers need to be recognised, acknowledged and removed. 

Less should be concentrated on the medical model which relates to the individuals responsible for their condition, whereas it may be the organisation which is placing the barriers to the person’s performance.

There are a number of factors in the corporate sector that support neurodivergent people as well as the entire team, such as passport recruitment style processes, with good working practices such as opportunities to plan and good communication.

Useful Resources: 

EMBED https://embed.org.uk/about

AchieveAbility: Neurodiverse Voices: Opening Doors to Employment Report: https://www.achieveability.org.uk/files/1518955206/wac-report_2017_interactive-2.pdf

This report was consulted with neurodivergent people and focuses on the barriers to employment with recommendations. 

ClearTalents is an award-winning online passport solution that supports organisations with recruitment and retention of staff. 

Link to website is here: https://cleartalents.info/

 A person does not need to identify as disabled or neurodivergent, instead everyone in the organisation at all levels creates a passport to identify any reasonable adjustments they would benefit from. 

It covers all of the 9 Protected Characteristics including childcare provision, carer responsibilities, chronic illness, temporary disability as well as developmental disability and neurodiversity.   

Data is collected anonymously and shows the growth of diversity in the workforce of the organisation and be collated overall to the sector. 

This could support how we collect and collate data as well as support in increasing diversity and inclusion in recruitment and retention of disabled and neurodivergent talent.  

If you are interested in knowing more, do get in touch via info@musedcn.org.uk 

CIPD: Neurodiversity At Work: https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/neurodiversity-at-work_2018_tcm18-37852.pdf

What do you think are the barriers of dyslexic people visiting museums?

There is a strong emphasis currently on condition led processes within museums which mean the person may need to declare their neurodiversity in order to facilitate services such as audio guides or coloured lens.  This shouldn’t be the case and it is easier to have these as a general offer than specific for audiences. 

Sensory Processing Difficulties (sensitivity to light, touch and noise) affects people with Dyspraxia, AD(H)D and Autism.  So, a person with both dyslexia and dyspraxia profiles may have this trait.

It is important for museums to consider their space holistically as well as specific timed offers.  Often people want to visit in their own time, but need to know what information before the visit and enable them to manage the space.

What can we do to reduce barriers with dyslexic people visiting museums?

Its important for museums and the heritage sector as a whole to recognise that not everyone in society will know if they are dyslexic or other neurodivergent profiles.  It is costly for diagnosis and particularly with dyslexia, it is not available via the NHS.  This means that some people may not have the funds to do this, which can impact socially and economically in terms of earning power and the job market. Educational underachievement, (which often means the person does not get sufficient support within the formal education system) costs the economy £1.2 billion per year.

Therefore, if museums are seen as text-based, academic places this can be difficult for people to visit.  Therefore, it is important for museums to consider what interpretation they have in terms of audio guides, audio/visual, graphics and interactives.

Don’t expect people to declare any struggles, as it is highly embarrassing to the person and reflective of past stigma.  Instead, focus on strengths. 

Guidance for text is available via https://www.musedcn.org.uk/2017/01/12/accessible-text-standards-uk/ 

DCN can also offer organisations support in relation to text and interpretation.

Dyslexia has been known for over 100 years, why do you think dyslexic narratives are so low in museum collections?

It’s important to recognise that there are curators and museum staff who are neurodivergent and there have been key research on the history of neurodiversity by Jess Starns, T.R. Miles and Professor Maggie Snowling.

Key articles include:  Prof Maggie Snowling ‘History of Dyslexia Project’ https://dyslexiclibrary.com/2017/11/23/ask-the-expert-maggie-snowling-and-the-history-of-dyslexia-project/

A Brief History of Dyslexia https://dyslexiahistory.web.ox.ac.uk/brief-history-dyslexia

I Am Dyslexic by Thom Davies. This is an excellent film which tells about people’s stories about diagnosis and their lives and occupation choices (contains flashing images)  https://youtu.be/ETlFiOjE8rI

Other Films about Dyslexia:

Don’t Call Me Stupid by Kara Tointon. 
This is an excellent film on Kara’s world with dyslexia.
Part 1: https://youtu.be/L7cfD0PMV84

Part 2: https://youtu.be/vTvsYXrVzfk

Part 3: https://youtu.be/Hajus7Mkzok

Dyslexia and Comedy:  Liz Miele https://youtu.be/lrB58XWpnX8

Author:

Becki Morris is a late-diagnosis neurodivergent (dyslexic/dyspraxic) and has worked within the field of neurodiversity for 9 years.  She has worked with Leicester University School of Museum Studies, the National Trust, Universal Music Group and various museums of all sizes and budgets in relation to neurodiversity.

Becki is a Trustee of AchieveAbility and was part of the advocacy group for Neurodiverse Voices: Opening the Doors to Employment (2018).  Becki has membership of the Dyslexia Adult Network which is a group of the major charities and advocates for adults with neurodiversity. She is a Trustee for StageText and Lead Volunteer for Dig-It, Tamworth an organisation supporting families and adults with dyslexia and other neurodivergent profiles.

Becki is part of the EMBED Consortium https://embed.org.uk/about and is a member of the All Parliamentary Party Group for Dyslexia.

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