Over the last 20 years, the UK has seen a growing awareness of dyslexia both in schools and in the wider community. Prior to this, an individual of schooling age who struggled with spelling would be assumed to be 'not trying' or simply not intelligent enough to meet the schooling standards expected. This was an incredibly difficult stigma to break and it's only through greater exposure and understanding of dyslexia that the UK had managed to move on to officially recognise dyslexia for the difficulty it is, both in schools, workplaces and society as a whole. A recent survey was conducted by SurveySeat into the attitudes and opinions found across a sample group of 1242 participants.
The results provided a strong indication of how the attitudes of the UK public has changed and also highlighted areas where as a nation, the UK still lacks in how those members of society with dyslexia are viewed. SurveySeat discovered that while awareness of the issue was very apparent (with 66% of those surveyed stating that they personally knew somebody with dyslexia and 83% saying they would not/are not embarrassed to admit to having dyslexia) the attitude of the public towards sufferers could still be seen as prejudicial. This was indicated by a series of questions surrounding the issue of spelling.
"It's estimated that 10% of the population are dyslexic to some extent - that means over 5 million people in Britain alone. One in 25 is said to be affected badly enough to need specialised help. These days, most schools and colleges do recognise dyslexia, but the extra help provided varies a great deal." - SpellZone.com
The participants were asked to think about purchasing products online. 86% agreed that they would not buy a product (or would certainly reconsider buying a product) from a website which had a spelling mistake. 87% also admitted that they would not do (or would seriously reconsider doing) business with somebody who had problems spelling. While it is not possible to guarantee that poor spelling skills are always down to dyslexia, it is not possible to completely eliminate the possibility that this is the primary cause. In this instance, it means a severe disadvantage in the business world for those suffering with dyslexia due to, for example, a perception that a spelling mistake on a website indicates a lack of business acumen and ability.
"Having dyslexia myself it is really interesting to see how simple spelling mistakes can effect business opportunities. Anyone with spelling issues should seriously consider teaming up with someone who can cast a fresh eye over written work before publishing." (Richard Berry, SurveySeat Founder.)
The irony of this is that the dyslexia resource site www.beatingdyslexia.com states that the currently used 'phonics' method of teaching spelling actually makes the problem worse for dyslexic individuals who would benefit more from adopting a memory orientated approach:
"Dyslexic people generally have difficulties spelling sound by sound. However there is a lack of emphasis on the important role that memory plays in spelling ability. Being a good speller is about knowing when to sound words out and when to use your memory" - BeatingDyslexia.com
This concept is suported by www.spellzone.com who highlight that some of the world's greatest minds were sufferers of dyslexia, such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Richard Branson! The survey also showed that while 93% of the participants agreed there was a problem with dyslexia in the UK, only 56% felt that all cases should be given extra allowances. Unusually, 7% however stated that they did not see dyslexia as a problem in the United Kingdom. In closing the survey, SurveySeat sought opinions about the role technology has with regards to dyslexia. While the answers indicated a mixed opinion, 23% decided the internet and technology provides well needed extra information whilst 21% believed that it causes people to become lazy and lack the drive to learn how to spell correctly. While this was evidently an opinion held by 1 in 5, the same could well be argued for technology users in general, regardless of having a condition such as dyslexia.