My website, Dyslexia Life Hacks, shares various tools, tips and tricks that I have encountered over the years to assist with day-to-day life at home and at work. The website also provides a safe space for people to submit their own hacks and thoughts to help build this resource.
My own personal journey with dyslexia has been going on for as long as I can remember. I was statemented with dyslexia in my second year of primary school (5/6 years old), therefore spending most of my school life having to find strategies to help with my dyslexia. I did get support during this time which assisted me on the way.
By the time I finished college at the age of 19 I was completely burnt out by education. Having spent quite a lot of my late teens and early 20’s with low confidence when it came to academia, I was led to a career as an HGV technician (Lorry mechanic).
Having quite itchy feet to strive to do something more than the path that was already ahead of me, I found myself studying an Engineering Master’s degree. This was in Scotland and a four-year degree programme that included a fast-track Masters. If you had asked the 19-year-old me who left college whether the 31-year-old me would have graduated with a Master’s Degree, I would have laughed: “I can’t spell, so how the hell am I going to study a university education; that’s for clever people”.
I remember sitting on my first day at University, after the first two lectures, thinking “what have I done! I don’t understand this?!” However, I was driven and I sat there with a three-inch thick maths textbook during my Christmas break revising, so I could pass the exam, which I got an A in amazingly.
I spend most of my university life proving wrong my self-limiting beliefs and assumptions about what I could do. I came out the other side with a lot more confidence and more drive to succeed in work and life. I now have a successful career as a Design Engineer and have done a period working for Triumph Motorcycles designing their bikes which was my dream job as a kid.
The early seed for Dyslexia Life Hacks started when I was on my graduate scheme. The project manager I was working with at the time is also dyslexic. The two of us were doing a project plan but could not spell a word. Without thinking I go, “hey Siri how do you spell…” whatever the word was and as a dutiful assistant, Siri quite happily spells the word back to me letter by letter. The project manager looked at me “I didn’t even know you could do that – I’m impressed!” I thought nothing of it until the following day: he came back in and said he had shown his young daughter (who has learning difficulties) that this can be done with an iPhone – she was super happy with this spelling hack. On that day Dyslexia Life Hacks started as a small idea my brain.
As I have gone through my professional career, I started picking up and sharing various tips and strategies with other dyslexics I encountered; engineering is quite an attractive profession for dyslexics so I had quite a few people to meet. The number of times I have been like, “you can do what?”, or they have said, “I did not know you could do that!” – has really surprised me.
For example, the website has a hack about using the synonym checker in Microsoft programmes, in particular, Word and Outlook. This really helps if you get homophones incorrect, which is something I do quite a bit: for example the word there you can put the cursor in the word right click and check the synonyms if they make sense for the version of there you want. But if you are getting synonyms that do not make any sense you know you put the wrong homophone in. I remember when a former boss showed this to me and it was a bit of a lightbulb moment. I have shown my other dyslexic colleagues this and they did not know you could do this either.
Things like this have driven me to create Dyslexia Life Hacks to be a place on the Internet where all dyslexics can share tips, tricks, and hacks, like the ones I have mentioned above. Even during the development of the website, when I was getting dyslexics and non-dyslexics to test it for me, they came back with new hacks to investigate or added information to hacks that were already on the website. I am hoping as more people see this website and start submitting hacks, or talking to me about it, I can grow the website from its current 21 hacks to be a corner of the Internet that dyslexic people can drop into and find their “I didn’t know that!” moment, enriching their lives, and I’m hoping I’ll learn some new hacks myself along the way.