I’m one of the estimated 20 per cent of dyslexic entrepreneurs in the UK. I’ve spoken a lot in the media recently about dyslexia because I’m passionate about shining a light on what it means to be dyslexic.
It took me a long time to realise that the perceived barriers of dyslexia were ones that I put in my own way and that the strength to overcome them came from appreciating my value and my ideas.
Now, as the owner of a successful business employing hundreds of people, I know that dyslexia has helped me on my road to achievement. In fact, it might have to be the greatest gift of my career. I honestly believe that my success is because of, not despite, dyslexia.
Having dyslexia means I think more visually which in turn makes me incredibly creative and this can be very beneficial and innovative for business.
I love to draw and my office walls are covered in diagrams and drawings. I like to have regular catch-ups and talk through ideas in person. I much prefer an interactive session that just sitting in front of slides.
All of these things have allowed me to develop as an entrepreneur. I’ve experienced, first-hand, so many outdated attitudes towards dyslexia and other learning differences, yet I feel proud of the innovation and creativity dyslexia allows.
As a country, we need to be more celebratory of the positive differences in people – women and men alike – and reap the benefits they can bring.
A Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Education and Skills survey earlier this year found that 69 per cent of employers were concerned about not being able to find enough highly-skilled team members.
According to the Royal Academy of Engineering, in the transport industry alone we’ll need 100,000 new STEM graduates every year until 2020 just to keep up with demand.
We’re currently producing just 90,000 a year. The impact of unearthing the hidden talents of dyslexic pupils will contribute to closing this skills gap in the UK economy, making a real, meaningful difference to our society.
I’m passionate about changing perceptions of ‘normal’ and encouraging the education world, businesses and support organisations to collaborate to embrace the ‘different’ skills of people with other educational needs and challenges. We need to inspire much-needed social change to allow people to shout about
We need to inspire much-needed social change to allow people to shout about their different aptitudes, and flourish because of them.
I would love to see people with dyslexia wearing the label with confidence and championing their positive differences – saying ‘yes’ to dyslexia. I know I do.
About the author
Debra Charles is the founder and CEO of Novacroft, a Northampton-based smart technology and software solution company. In October, she launched a short film to ‘Say Yes To Dyslexia’ to highlight the positives of dyslexia and overturn negative preconceptions. Click here to get involved in, or hear more about the Say Yes To Dyslexia campaign.