In partnering with charity ‘Made by Dyslexia’, and in signing the Made by Dyslexia pledge, Microsoft has announced that it is the first company to sign a global pledge to help people with dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a lifelong condition that is not related to intelligence. Those with the condition experience difficulty with reading, spelling, writing and sometimes speaking because their brains have trouble recognising or processing some types of information.
It is estimated that it affects 700 million people worldwide and at least 5% of schoolchildren have dyslexia. In many cases, these schoolchildren are often (mistakenly) labelled as having a learning disability, which is why it is believed that they could make up as much as 85% of special education classes.
The Pledge & Partnership
The ‘Made By Dyslexia’ pledge that Microsoft has signed-up to states that the tech giant will endeavour to recognise dyslexia as a different and valuable way of thinking, understand the importance of identifying each dyslexic and their pattern of strengths and challenges, and give targeted support to dyslexics to enable them to harness their strengths and flourish.
The Pledge says that this can be achieved by “skilling up” staff in schools with regard to spotting, understanding, and how best to support those with dyslexia, using digital screeners to check whether people are dyslexic, and making sure that tests and assignments are adjusted so dyslexics can demonstrate their full knowledge and skills.
Through the pledge, Microsoft is essentially partnering with the global charity ‘Made By Dyslexia’, which describes itself as being led by successful (and famous) dyslexics.
What Will Microsoft Do For Dyslexics?
Microsoft has said that by adhering to the pledge, it hopes to democratise Dyslexia support, and it’s been reported that Microsoft’s contribution will include the creation of free training materials, including short films and reading tools, which are designed to help teachers and parents improve ways of spotting Dyslexia. Microsoft is reported to be working with top researchers and partners in the dyslexic community, with the hope of encouraging those involved in a child’s life to intervene earlier, and thereby improve their future.
Microsoft has announced that it will expand access to (and improve ease of) implementation of a number of tools, including:
The Dictation Tool in Learning Tools – to help students to write with their voice.
The Immersive Reader tool – to help students with maths problems, to invite all learners into the conversation, and to support students in their native language with real-time translation.
A partnership with the University of Washington – to help students sound out words.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
As the ‘Made By Dyslexia’ charity demonstrates, dyslexia needn’t be a barrier to success if the right support and tools are available to help those with the condition. Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence, and it presents many extra challenges to those who have the condition. Understanding this and providing help in the form of adherence to the pledge, means that Microsoft is seen to be taking a high profile lead and demonstrating that it understands that those with Dyslexia are just as valuable in the workplace as those without, and that providing help at a young age can help dyslexic people to reach their potential.
Microsoft, like many other big tech companies, is showing how old problems can be tackled with new methods, hopefully with success.