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'MyDyslexiaStory: Keri Harrowven

Thursday 20 January 2022

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.

The skills dyslexia gives me…

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 customer’s 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.

Achieving my full potential

I have had no formal support for my dyslexia! Although I have drawn on the support of numerous colleagues over the years to explore and achieve my full potential. I’ve taught myself to recognise the shape of words. If I have never seen a word written down, I have no idea where to begin with writing it down.

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, in fact really quite clever when it came to doing the things you need to succeed in the real world of work.

“My passion and knowledge of all things usability and accessibility continually grows.”

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 advice for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia:

This is your superpower, and you can do anything you want with it.