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Our Dyslexic Designer Thinks Outside the Box

23rd February 2016
Reading Time
3 minutes

Following on from the Starbucks dyslexia case earlier this month, our lead graphic designer Ian Richmond gave his views on dyslexia in the workplace to SouthWest Business.

Starbucks lost a disability case this month after it wrongly accused an employee with dyslexia of falsifying documents.

In fact, she had unintentionally misread key numbers because of her dyslexia.

The employment tribunal found that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments as per the 2010 Equity Act.

Starbucks has since said it is now aiming to provide more support to employees with disabilities.

Looking back to when he was first diagnosed with dyslexia at age 14, our lead graphic designer Ian Richmond recalls how he "struggled to read in class and wasn’t sure of what was in front of me. It affected my confidence."

The challenges he faced were “frustrating and confusing” and the final diagnosis of dyslexia came as a relief.

Despite the difficulties he faces, Ian remains upbeat: “There is help and support out there and I would say to anyone with the dyslexia not to give up on their goals. We’re just different and in some ways it can in fact be a gift.”


Dyslexia in the Workplace

Dyslexia is a learning disability which causes difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.

Studies show that one in ten people have some form of dyslexia, though a lot of dyslexics aren't formally diagnosed.

Dyslexia in no way affects intelligence and people who are dyslexic are known to be highly creative thinkers and visual problem solvers.

Dyslexia can open up new ways of thinking and can even become an asset, as Ian himself has come to find.


Creativity & Thinking Outside the Box

Dyslexic workers can help businesses think more creatively.

Dyslexia often brings a heightened sense of visualisation, which can be a great asset in problem solving and in visual areas of a business like design.

Here are some of the potential positive impacts of dyslexia:

  • A deeper sense curiosity
  • Increased awareness of the surrounding environment
  • Intuitive and insightful thinking
  • Thinking and perceiving multi-dimensionally; using all our senses 
  • A vivid imagination
  • Unique perceptions and thinking patterns
  • Creative visualisation

Ian Richmond explains how his dyslexia has actually benefitted his design work:

“Sometimes people wrongly assume you’re an idiot if you’re dyslexic. But it just means you think differently, which can help you stand out from the crowd. I see everything visually and probably have a different perspective to most people, so design is an ideal job. Images are my words.”

Management were also quick to pick up on Ian’s potential. GWS Director David Graves shares how they “immediately recognised Ian’s talent and were happy to support him. He is an extremely creative individual and we’re lucky to have him as part of our team”.


Workplace Adjustments

First signs of dyslexia are usually apparent from learning how to read and write at school, but some people get diagnosed later in life. At work, a person with dyslexia may confuse the order of letters, have difficulty taking notes, struggle with directions or read and write very slowly. Here are some key workplace adjustments to help dyslexics:

  • a recording device to avoid note-taking
  • giving instructions verbally rather than in writing
  • providing support with proofreading
  • teaching visually
  • providing text-to-speech software


Read more about the Starbucks dyslexia case -

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