Three questions to Susanna Cederquist
You usually emphasize the strengths of the dyslexic. Can you give examples?
Dyslexics are often good at thinking "big", and what can be called interconnected thinking, that you are good at connecting things and finding relationships. To think creatively and problem-solving.
Dyslexics are often good at 3D thinking, both understanding, interpreting and thinking three-dimensionally. To mentally twist and turn things and systems. Image thinking and imagination are also often referred to as dyslexic powers. Even holistic thinking, to quick and easy decode the whole picture and see the patterns.
More research is needed in this area, but there are already indications on interesting differences between dyslexics and non-dyslexics, which are not related to the reading and writing field. Different ways of thinking and functioning can result in difficulties in the reading and writing area while finding other areas easier.
How can a web author best help a dyslexic?
A text should be accessible, which means it should be available in at least two ways, one should be able to both “eye-read” and “ear-read” the text in a smooth way. Being able to listen to the content, ear-reading, is especially important from a dyslexic perspective. Today, technology makes it easy to listen to all types of text, for example with Browse Aloud or similar assistive technology.
If you make use of leaflets, information sheets or PDF's that can also be printed, you can, for example, add Blipsay Listening codes to the texts. That makes it easy for the reader to choose your way of reading and it is prepared from the beginning. As a communication officer, you are often concerned about reaching out with your message to many people. Taking different ways of reading into account, should be natural.
Do you think the EU Web Accessibility Directive will make a difference for people with dyslexia?
Yes, I think so. The text norm is more or less strong in our society and the more conscious we become of its impact the better it is. From a dyslexic perspective, knowledge needs to increase about how dyslexics function and what the consequences of not catering for this target group can be. An important aspect of equality based on the text norm is accessibility and understanding our different ways to perceive information.
The more used we become to accessible texts, the better it is. More role models exist, as more people have to think about accessibility from the start. This is an important key. Sometimes I find it a bit boring to have to talk about regulations, but it is an effective way to achieve change, to prioritize and shape habits. We can "improve our skills" much more than we do today, for example in the education systems and also in communication. In the future, I hope that all texts will be accessible from the beginning – as a matter of course.