As part of National Dyslexia Week the British Dyslexia Association has asked the dyslexic community to share their stories, to raise awareness and to help others with dyslexia feel understood.
Keri Harrowven, Digital Workplace Consultant at Invotra Consulting, shared her experience of dyslexia with us. Keri is keen to support the British Dyslexia Association’s belief that everyone with dyslexia has the power to create positive change, and she champions the work of Made By Dyslexia, that dyslexia is a superpower, with game changing strengths in creative, problem-solving and communication skills.
When did you realise that you were having challenges and that you were dyslexic?
At school I struggled with English, with reading, writing etc. When this was recognised by my teachers I was put in a ”special” class (an extra class on top of usual lessons) where they drummed into us the rules of grammar!
At no point did anyone use the word dyslexia. At parents evenings teachers would give my parents the feedback that I just couldn’t be bothered, and wasn’t trying or that I was clever, but lazy.
Thankfully I had parents who believed in me, knew I wasn’t lazy and didn’t let the comments from teachers dictate my confidence or my future opportunities.
It still breaks my heart that dyslexia isn’t picked up earlier in lots of cases.
How has dyslexia impacted you?
Dyslexia has given me the magical combination of being creative, detail focused and analytical. I feel confident this has been of great benefit throughout my career.
Now, working as a Digital Workplace Consultant at Invotra Consulting, I believe my dyslexic thinking skills enable me to uncover and analyse the detail of customers needs. Working with clients like Houses of Parliament, NHS Trusts and when onboarding all of our new clients, I feel dyslexia allows me to creatively deliver a great digital user experience.
What support or help have you received for your dyslexia?
I have had no support for my dyslexia! I had to teach myself to recognise the shape of words. I have to see a word written down, before I can begin to know how to spell it and write it myself.
Do you have an achievement or story, linked to your dyslexia, you would like to share?
I left school with only CSEs and did a year at sixth form to get my one O-level in Maths.
However, when I started work, I immediately could see that I was not actually ‘stupid’, as my teachers had so often made me feel. I was, infact really quite clever when it came to doing the things you need to succeed in the real world of work.
It was when I started working with computers, with a spell check that I really came into my own.
While working for the National Trust I created spreadsheets for the properties to record their daily income. This was previously done manually, on big sheets of paper. I then worked with a developer to build their first database system, to record the income, and this began my passion for delivering a great user experience. I’ve been working in digital development ever since.
I went on to build the first 3 intranets for the National Trust, moving into internal communications and I am now a Digital Workplace Consultant. My passion and knowledge of all things usability and accessibility continually grows. My work at Invotra Consulting ensures usability and accessibility are integral to all platforms, to deliver a great experience to all users.
Do you have any advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia, or who, like you, recognises they are dyslexic?