Survey by HRP on Digital Technology in Daily Lives and Cultural Sites – can you help?

Historic Royal Palaces

Would you help Historic Royal Palaces make the Tower of London more accessible for D/deaf and/or disabled visitors?

At Historic Royal Palaces, we are currently looking at ways to make the Tower of London more accessible. As part of this, we are conducting a short survey into how D/deaf and/or disabled people use digital technology – both in their daily lives and at cultural sites. We are keen to get as wide a range of voices as possible.

Your help would be greatly appreciated – and will directly impact on how D/deaf and/or disabled people experience the Tower and other heritage sites in future. Will you help?

Tower survey is here:

Changing Places toilets: The Art of exLOOsion by Alison Beevers – Retford Changing Places Campaign (facebook)

You visit an Art Gallery. You may visit the gallery café or the gallery shop. You may also visit the loos, after all you’ll be there for a while. In this time you may have spent a bob or two.

The problem for us is we are not able to ‘spend a penny’. My son has Cerebral Palsy, he has difficulties controlling his movements and cannot stand or sit unaided, because of his condition is unable to use a standard disabled toilet. Due to a woeful lack of toilet provision in the UK for people with profound disabilities or complex health needs, visiting many places for us is limited, time restricted or simply unachievable these days.

This situation gives us a feeling of increasing worthlessness, social exclusion and inability to participate in everyday activities that others take for granted. I don’t have a disability myself but I’ve come to learn what a barrier and disadvantage it is to have no access to a toilet, a basic human right. Often I’ve had to attend my son’s toileting needs in degrading, dangerous and unhygienic situations, a baby change, car boot, various floors. It is soul destroying.

This led me to the UK Changing Places campaign which seeks to highlight the need for accessible toilets with more space and extra assistive equipment including a bench and ceiling hoist. These toilets are specifically designed to assist multiple health needs and should be provided in addition to the full range of single sex and standard accessible WC’s and baby changing facilities. At present there are 1069 Changing Places facilities registered in the UK, not anywhere near enough to meet the needs for an estimated 250,000 + people in the UK.

While a growing number of visitor attractions, transport hubs, shopping centres and sport stadiums, already include Changing Places toilets , larger museums and galleries are lagging behind at just 14 toilets (Tate, Nottingham Contemporary, Eureka museum to name a few). Some of the reasons for this being a lack of knowledge and awareness and issues relating to ‘restricted’ funding. Onus is on individual venues to deliver and manage facilities. This is a particular problem for charity led and free for entry museums that rely on external funding to deliver their work.

What can we do to change this?

Awareness; some venues may have no previous knowledge of Changing Places toilets or the need despite being recommended in British Standard 8300. As a code of practice, this British Standard takes the form of guidance and recommends that Changing Places toilets should be provided in larger buildings and complexes.

Public venues must take positive steps to remove the barriers and have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to ensure visitors and staff have the same services, as far a possible as someone who’s not disabled. It’s important to get in touch with a museum or gallery to raise your concerns. Although there may be no immediate solution, venues will be able to plan ahead and look at other funding opportunities.

Disabled people represent a massive untapped market for business with a collective spending power at £249 billion, which is why fully accessible toilets make excellent business sense! Venues can broaden their accessibility appeal and visitor audience by providing Changing Places toilets.

Find out more about Changing Places here and how they change lives.

Face book – @Changing_Places

Twitter @CP_Consortium

Alison Beevers – Retford Changing Places Campaign (facebook)


Oral History Training/Volunteering opportunity: History of Place Project

History of Place is offering a day of oral history training at M Shed Bristol on 30th January, followed by flexible opportunities to volunteer until April, taking oral histories of disabled people in Bristol.

Full details here:

Do pass this on to people who might like to take part – everyone is welcome, and we hope participants will pick up some useful transferable skills.

There’s also a HOP newsletter, which will carry events and further exhibition openings over the next few months – you can sign up at the top or bottom of the page here:

Project LAB: tackling illiteracy and other global issues at Royal Institution of Science

Disability Co-operative Network

June 2017

1 in 5 adults in the United Kingdom are illiterate with 738 million globally. This is hard to digest in the 21st Century and seems more relevant in Victorian society, not the digital age.  In terms of cost to the world it is $1.19 trillion.  The unreasonable group have a selection of entrepreneurs who are making a real difference to society by supported projects in places such as the United States, United Kingdom, India and Asia.

The key thing about this day is the goal to eliminate illiteracy by 2030.  This is such important and refreshing thinking in addressing this aim and actually stating enough is enough and what we can all do to meet this target.

Jeff Hoffman, [1] was inspiring in his keynote address passionately advocating to our group that ‘there is no they – there’s us. It is us that will solve the problems. Don’t wait for the change’.

For DCNs and other museums work on inclusive practice to promote diversity, this is an empowering statement to advocate our own resources for positive change.  Almost all the projects had digital inclusion and collaboration with people at the forefront to develop solutions which have high social and economic impact.

Sophia Grinvalds Co-Founder and Co-Director of Afripads showed how one in ten girls skipped school because of lack of sanitary products.  Afripads are now a global supplier in washable sanitary ware for women in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.  It has created positive impact for over 1.4 million women and created employment for 150 Ugandans.

ThinkCERCA enables critical thinking through web-based literacy platforms by building up analytical tools.

Ubongo project is a multi-platform for fun and engaging learning for remote communities in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.  The multi-platform is radio, TV and mobile technology teaching mathematics, reading and science.  It was good to see Nisha Ligon speak about the project who has worked for online projects for the BBC, Science Museum and the Guardian.

Guru-G is an app based teaching tool for teachers to support a positive learning experience which has reached out to over 500 schools and used by 5,000 teachers for 120,000 students.  The app can be used with or without the internet and provides the opportunity for mentoring teachers with lesson plans based on different curriculum needs and techniques.

Livox was developed by Carlos Pereira and his wife to support their young daughter with cerebral palsy.  It is an app to support learning in reading, writing and communication with a smart virtual keyboard and reduces risk of social isolation for disabled people.

There were many projects associated with the project and unfortunately unable to list all of them here.  But more details relating to the project are here:

One of the key messages from the whole event was how the jigsaw pieces are there in respect to technology but getting the right people leading and collaboration to identify an active positive solution does not need high finance.  The second key was taking it forward and making it happen.

But, what for museums? Interestingly Project Lab says ‘illiteracy’ should be put where it belongs – in a museum.  Museums can do so much to trial solutions by entrepreneurs for positive social change. Should illiteracy belong in a museum which traditional techniques involve high literacy?  The world is changing and we can be part of the next chapter of positive change.

Becki Morris, Disability Co-operative Network

[1] Jeff was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into the Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame by the CEO Council and recently the Champion of Entrepreneurship Award from JP Morgan, Chase, Citibank and Rising Tide Capital.

PRESS RELEASE: Discover accessible sports in the Thames Valley at Rivertime Accessible Regatta

SAVE THE DATE:  Wednesday 14 June 2017

Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre

You are invited to the first ever Rivertime Accessible Regatta on the River Thames –
a showcase of the wide variety of accessible activities for children and young people with disabilities in the Thames Valley

On Wednesday 14 June, over 400 pupils from local special needs schools will take part in the Rivertime Accessible Regatta and for many this will be their first experience with competitive bell boating, accessible sailing, wheelchair powerboating and canoeing. Organisers, Rivertime Boat Trust together with Give Them a Sporting Chance have also called upon other charities and organisations to provide a chance for the regatta participants to try out other land-based accessible sports, such as new age curling, archery and wheelchair basketball.

“On some days, we have 18 youngsters with disabilities and within half an hour of being here they are all doing something – you know – not just sitting in a boat watching the countryside go by.  They are actually doing something and that is so lovely.”
(Roy May, Accessible Boat Club)

Why is this event unique?

The Rivertime Accessible Regatta is the first event of its kind in the Thames Valley and will be the first competitive sporting event for many of the participants. The regatta will see several hundreds of pupils taking part and some schools are also planning to bring some of their Year 10 trainee Sports Leaders to support the teams.

The Rivertime Accessible Regatta does not aim to be a stand-alone event and plans are already underway to make this an annual event on the river. In addition, participants are encouraged to follow through with the ‘chain of goodness’, by raising funds for a charity of their choice in whatever way they choose; while the organisers are in discussion with other organisations along the River Thames to stage similar events.

What is the opportunity?

  • Find out about the benefits of getting children and young people with disabilities on the water and learn about the challenges these activities pose
  • Discover which accessible sports are taking place in the Thames Valley
  • Gain insights on accessible sports from a variety of experts available for interview, including:
  • Simon and Pat Davis MBE, Rivertime Boat Trust Chairman and Co-founder
  • Anne Wadsworth OBE, Give Them a Sporting Chance Director
  • Lucy Herbert, Rivertime Boat Trust Head Skipper
  • Jonathon Hobbs, Hobbs of Henley Managing Director and Rivertime Boat Club Trustee
  • John Jenkins MBE, SportsAble President
  • Peter May, Rivertime Accessible Regatta Director
  • Charles Reed, English Federation of Disability Sports Chairman and Sport England Trustee
  • Be inspired by the volunteers and carers’ enthusiasm in ensuring that children and young people with disabilities get the chance to enjoy a fulfilling life

When and where?

Wednesday 14 June 2017, 10am – 2pm
You are invited to drop in at any time, but please let us know your expected time of arrival, so that we can meet your needs: arranging interviews and photography as required.
More information on the schedule of the day will become available in due course.

Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre,
Bisham Village, Marlow Road, Bisham, Marlow SL7 1RR


Jana Fickerova or Jane Bevan at Firebird PR on 01235 835297 / 07977 459547 or via email to

–  ENDS –

For further information, interview requests, or images please contact Firebird PR:

T: 01235 835 297/ 07977 459 547



About Rivertime Boat Trust

The Rivertime Boat Trust is a charity registered with the Charity Commission to provide and maintain a specially constructed boat and other facilities for the disabled and disadvantaged; organise trips in the boat on the middle Thames between Windsor and Oxford; and work with other charities involved with the disabled and disadvantaged that have similar objectives.

In designing the Rivertime Accessible Regatta, the Rivertime Boat Trust is being advised by a panel of experts on disability and aspires to stimulate children and young people with disabilities to develop a long-term involvement with accessible sports.

For more information, visit

About Give Them a Sporting Chance

Give Them a Sporting Chance offers those with disabilities and their carers an opportunity to turn their sporting and recreational dreams into reality. All recipients are recommended by organisations and, in return for living their dream, those who receive chances raise funds for another charity of their choice (but not Give Them a Sporting Chance). This makes the charity unique.

For more information, visit

Research into Issues for Adults with Dyslexia/Specific Learning Difficulties ~ Margaret Malpas

Over the last 12 months, I have been conducting some pilot research to identify issues and experiences of adults with dyslexia or related specific learning difficulties (SpLD).  The aim was to use the pilot to discover which characteristics were helpful to adults with dyslexia and other SpLD. I anticipated that topics which were very relevant would appear and help shape more detailed research. However, the findings were so consistent and interesting that I decided to publish them and to use them as a basis for a book (“Self Fulflment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint for Success” available from 21 February 2017).  Here is the report on my findings.

Thank you

In total, 45 individuals have now completed the questionnaire. Thank you very much to all of you for taking the time and effort to fill it in.


I did a literature review of existing research on adults with dyslexia, excluding research on reading acquisition. The available research was not extensive but produced some interesting connections. In addition, having listened to many adults with dyslexia or a related condition, I was able to put together the questionnaire. The questionnaire is attached as an appendix at the end of this report.

The questionnaire has not been through an ethics review by a university but I did seek feedback from two senior academics.

Who Filled in the Questionnaire?

There were three groups who completed the questionnaire. The first group, of 15, were from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and locations. The second group were all individuals attending the B.D.A.’s International Conference in March 2016.  There were 17 respondents (2 were not dyslexic but were knowledgeable about dyslexia). This group of individuals were either academics or specialist dyslexia teachers with a lot of knowledge about dyslexia and SpLD. The third group of 13, were present at the B.D.A.’s AGM in November 2016. They are activists and want to help others with dyslexia, as is evident from their work as members of B.D.A. and its local associations.

The majority of respondents were aged over 35 years and many were over 50 years. This meant that they were able to take a long view, reflect on their life experiences over many years.

The questionnaire required mostly free format answers. This ensured that the individual is not led to answer but it also makes analysing the responses rather more difficult. So, it was necessary to accept some close synonyms. For example in the answering the first question “What do you put your key successes in life down to?” many people said “determination” but some said “persistence” and these answers are treated in the results as being under “determination”.


The answers given to each question are shown here.

  1. Key successes were ascribed to:
Group 1Group 2Group 3Total %
Determination8  (53%)10  (67%)6  (46%)56%
Empathetic6  (40%) 4  (27%)0  (0%)23%
Intelligence or particular ability0  (0)%) 4  (27%)6  (46%)23%
Motivated by helping others3  (20%) 5  (33%)0  (0%)19%
Supportive family4  (27%) 2  (1%)2  (15%)19%
Hard work0  (0%) 3  (20%)3  (23%)14%
Effective education0  (0%) 3  (20%)1  (8%)  9%
Wit4  (27%) 0  (0%)2  (15%)  6%

In analysing the three groups’ responses, we need to be aware that this is asking people to self-report and so, for example, I found that the second group (of academics) ascribed their success to a mixture of determination and hard work in a subject they were already good at. They also reported that their intelligence was a key element of their success and that this had nothing to do with their dyslexia. It was apparent, though, that having an effective education and particularly sympathetic teachers had, had a significant effect on this group compared with the first group. Interestingly, the controls also put down ‘determination’ and ‘hard work’ as their primary reasons for success. The third group had a number of self made individuals, including lawyers, politicians, consultants and nurses. This experience of making it despite difficulties at school came through very clearly.

It’s particularly useful to look at this data with the answers to question 4 “Do you believe your dyslexia/SpLD has bestowed certain abilities on you”.  In their replies to this question, there were even more individuals including determination, persistence and particular abilities. This will be discussed in more detail with the question 4 responses, below.

  1. Diagnoses of dyslexia/SpLD

I was interested to learn the proportion of individuals who had been formally diagnosed or had self diagnosed. Diagnoses of dyslexia/SpLD have increased as a consequence of better awareness in schools and especially the implementation of the Disabled Students Allowance scheme but are still low.

Group 1Group 2Group 3Total %
Diagnosed 12

Self-diagnosed 2

Diagnosed 11

Self-diagnosed 4

Diagnosed  7

Self diagnosed 6




  1. Perceived Levels of Self Esteem
Group 1Group 2Group 3
Range 5–10

Mode 8

Range 6–9

This group also reported variability according to recent experience

Range 4-10

Mode 8 (7 participants scored themselves at 8)

The majority of respondents reported high levels of self esteem. There did not seem to be a connection between whether they had received a formal diagnosis or were self diagnosed and their levels of esteem. However, there was a distinct relationship between those who later answered that they felt they had strengths because of their dyslexia/SpLD, and their levels of self esteem. Those reporting self esteem levels at 4 and 5 did not see dyslexia as conferring a benefit to them.

  1. Abilities and strengths Perceived to be from Dyslexia
Group 1Group 2Group 3Total
Number of respondents listing strengths 








Seeing big picture77544%
Atypical problem solving55330%
Data patterns2119%
Inspiring others3109%
Coping strategies1002%

 There is a need for interpretation on these figures.  There were some people who did not circle the “yes” but did list strengths, hence the row on those who listed strengths does not quite match the number in the “yes” row. There were 3 respondents who replied “no” but went on to list attributes which others considered strengths of dyslexia. These were determination and empathy with other dyslexic people. So we have 69% of respondents specifically saying they have strengths and abilities that arise through their dyslexia/SpLD.  There was very considerable overlap in the wording used by respondents to describe these abilities. This could in some cases be because some of the descriptors are ones used throughout the dyslexic community. However, the second part of the question asked for examples, and these firmly bore out these descriptions of strengths. Here are some examples of these which also demonstrate how some of these abilities were clustered using synonyms.

Atypical problem solving/ thinking outside the box/finding alternative approaches or solutions were exemplified by taking successful legal appeal cases with an alternative approach; complete post graduate degrees (against a poor literacy achievements at school); develop learning opportunities that suit the individual and overcome problems; develop a career based on problem solving and consultancy/ advisory work.

Creativity was mentioned a lot but in the context mainly of problem solving.

Determination, persistence, and grit came up repeatedly. In several instances these had not been mentioned as an answer to question 1 but were included here as one of the positive outcomes of dyslexia. Examples quoted for this included setting up and running a charity for 22 years; several people described completing post graduate degrees despite having severe literacy problems at school, and working in the professions.

Recognising patterns was another common theme which did not easily fit into being clustered. For some, it was about recognising patterns in data, for others it was about recognising patterns of behaviour, being able to read others; and for others, it was described as recognising connections between things that others have not seen.

  1. Challenges from Dyslexia


Group 1Group 2Group 3Total
Literacy12 (80%)8 (53%)13  (100%) 


Memory particularly affecting organisation5  (33%)10  (67%)6 (46%) 


Background distractions4  (27%)1 (7%)0 (0%)12%
Getting lost3 (20%)0  (0%)1 (8%)9%
Learning is difficult2  (13%)0  (0%)2 (15%)9%


Almost all the respondents wrote about their challenges. There was considerable consistency in the replies which can be seen above. In terms of literacy difficulties, the comments were mainly about slower reading speed, slower comprehension, and difficulties managing large tracts of reading material. Many respondents had trouble with confidence with spelling and quite a few commented that their writing was scruffy.

  1. The Effects of these Challenges on their Lives
Group 1Group 2Group 3Total
Considerable difficultiesMany0ManyMany
Relationship issues (personal and professional)91126%
Stress and health issues63021%
Lack of self-belief30212%

As the responses were freely worded, it wasn’t possible to calculate all the answers numerically. In some cases, it was necessary to take a qualitative approach and recognise that the lists of outcomes would create considerable difficulties at some point in the individual’s life. This is where the table shows “many”.  In all the other challenges the actual words used were counted and synonyms were not used here.

  1. Have you received individual support?
Group 1Group 2Group 3Total
Relative or spouse48540%
No one33526%
Dyslexia coach63123%
Network member33219%
Sympathetic teacher03416%
Sympathetic boss0205% 

Out of 45 total respondents, 37 individuals said they had received support from a particular individual. In the main, those who listed a family member spoke mostly about that person maintaining their self esteem. The support from professionals which included mentors at work and specialist dyslexia teachers or coaches was on the development of coping strategies.

  1. Disclosure
Group 1Group 2Group 3Total
Positive experience511140%
Negative experience40419%

Previous research has shown that disclosure often has not resulted in positive outcomes for the individual. We also see very low numbers of take up on schemes such as the Government’s Access to Work where disclosure to the employer is a requirement. This question was included in order to see if anything more could be learned in this area as it is critical in tackling discrimination at work. There were quite a few individuals who had not disclosed their dyslexia to an employer because they were self employed in this sample. There were also individuals who described two experiences of disclosure to an employer, frequently a bad and a good experience.

  1. What would you recommend to a young person?
Group 1Group 2Group 3Total
Learn coping strategies99249%
Look for things you are good at06628%
Take or ask for help34323%
Recognise you are different but not less worthy42219%
Don’t worry, it will all work out44019%
Develop a positive mindset05216%
Get a diagnosis early32114%

There was a lot of consistency in these answers. It was an interesting question to ask these respondents as most were at least middle aged and could look back over their lifetime with some distance on any emotions that dyslexia challenges had presented.  The answers were overwhelmingly positive in outlook.


I was surprised at the consistency of answers. This was not expected given that the questions were largely free format. There was also surprising consistency over the three different groups who were not chosen to be similar, other than their dyslexia/SpLD.

It’s quite clear from these responses that there are some significant themes. Determination, hard work, motivation and the encouragement of others all lead to successful life outcomes. Issues with literacy persist throughout life but can be improved by the use of assistive technology.

Lack of awareness in schools results in poorer literacy outcomes, lower achievement but also persistent bullying by staff as well as other pupils. This has lasting effects on individuals and can cause ill health.  Yet some individuals who were described as “thick” can use their determination to go on and achieve the highest academic levels.

Understanding that you are dyslexic be it through self awareness or a formal test is important to self esteem.

69% of these adults say they have strengths and abilities that are due to their different neurological condition, their dyslexia or SpLD. There are also some who do not attribute their determination or empathy directly to dyslexia but indicate that it is borne out of the experience of being dyslexic.

A detailed study of these responses together with the literature review undertaken, showed that there were ten characteristics which successful dyslexic adults often share. This has been made the subject of the book “Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint for Success” by Margaret D. Malpas, MBE. It is being published on 21 February 2017 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. The book covers all ten characteristics and how to develop them, as well as case studies to illustrate each trait. All royalties have been donated to the B.D.A.

Appendix – Research Questionnaire into Issues for Adults with Dyslexia/SpLD

Margaret Malpas

January 2016

Physical access guidance to historic buildings

Disability Co-operative Network


Improving Access to Historic Buildings and Landscapes by Historic England

Evacuation of People with Disabilities

Government guidelines (see separate document for Scotland) on the means of escape for disabled people in buildings (2011)