Reclassify dyslexia as a thinking style not a disability

September 23 2008

The Prime Minister was recently petitioned by The Learning People to reclassify dyslexia as a thinking style, not a disability.

Their petition drew attention to the complex nature of dyslexia and its composition as a mixture of talents and difficulties.

They wrote

“There is also mounting evidence that dyslexics can succeed at all academic tasks when instruction is appropriate to the dyslexic thinking style. As a society, our focus needs to be on catering adequately for all thinking styles, not writing some of them off as disabilities. We urge the Government to submit new laws to Parliament to reframe dyslexia as a thinking style, not a disability.”

(Extract from The Learning People petition)

It recognises that not all dyslexics suffer from the negative symptoms and clarifies that

“Where dyslexia has this (adverse) effect on an individual, that person is a disabled person for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and thus is entitled to the full protection from discrimination that is provided by the Act, including from discrimination that arises from a failure to make a reasonable adjustment.

The Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made for disabled people not just in employment and access to goods, services, facilities and premises, but also in access to education, the functions of public authorities and private clubs. A disabled person who considers that they have been subject to disability discrimination, including as a consequence of a failure by an employer, service provider or other duty holder to meet their duty of reasonable adjustment, may take enforcement action through civil procedures.”

Sadly the response does not address the learning needs of people with alternative thinking styles, it just supports the existing laws as sufficient.

However, the petition has brought the issue to the attention of the Prime Minister’s office and that can only be positive.