Saturday, January 07, 2017

My dyslexia inside the corporation

This is the first blog post of 2017 so something a little different, a little more personal, a little speculative…

I’ve written before about my dyslexia (Dyslexia makes me stronger) and I’ve also noted that what is good for dyslexics what helps them learn, is usually good for the wider population too; i.e. if you make things dyslexic friendly non-dyslexics also find things easier.

A corollary for that might be: reading which many find a little difficult dyslexics find very difficult.

Now I’ve stumbled on something that has got me thinking, let me explain…

Something really unusual has happened to me for the second time within a year. I find myself working regularly inside a big corporate organization, specifically, I’m working with the same company regularly enough for them to have given me a company e-mail address, which means I need to log into corporation Outlook. It also means the corporation is sending me lots of internal stuff and people are communicating with me via e-mail and by referring me anonymous webpages and and and…

OK, for most of you this is normal, it was once too for me but I’ve spent most of the last 10 years working either with companies which aren’t big enough to do this sort of stuff or, I was wasn’t working with companies enough to get into this position.

I’ve noticed that I’m ignoring much of this material, I sometimes feel like I’m drowning. And I notice that I only skim read (at best) much of the stuff that is thrown at me. Its overwhelming and I have a very low tolerance level, perhaps because…

Above all what I notice is I feel troubled inside when confronted with pages and pages of corporate text. I even feel like crying. I switch off.

Little companies, growing companies, have this stuff too but much less of it. And usually you can find someone to ask. In the big company not only is there lots and lots but asking is hard - try calling IT support and you find out how much these people don’t want you to.

I’ve had this before but only now have I made a connection with my dyslexia because I’ve remembered where I’ve had these feeling before: at school and at University.

I realise that confronted with this mass of text I feel like I did when confronted with books at school.

It is not about reading, I love reading, I am reading several books for enjoyment at the moment and I continue to read the news papers and websites.

But confronted with masses of material I need to read, which not reading makes me in some way a failure, school text books and corporate webpages I feel inadequate, I feel intimidated, I want to cry and a bit of me feels like I’m at school.

It occurs to me that as companies rely more on automated systems, documented processes and policies, and they move away from conversation and human interaction then those of us who are dyslexic are at a disadvantage.

Sure I can read the words but I can’t process them.

Ironically, as I mentioned when I blogged about my dyslexia before, I think my dyslexia is an asset, I think dyslexia made me a better programmer. But equally dyslexia makes it harder for me to operate in a modern corporate environment. So by documenting themselves big corporates could be deterring or disabling the very people they want.

(I say disabling very specifically: Dyslexia is a socially constructed disability, it is only a disability because of the society we have created, in earlier, pre-text, societies it may be considered an advantage.)

Or is it just me? Do other dyslexics feel this? And what about the mass of non-dyslexics? - maybe they feel the same

This blog contains a lot of conjecture, free thinking if you prefer, I write to find out if others think this way - please comment.