Dealing with Dyslexia: Using Visual Learning in Inspiration to Study and Work

Ray Rose Raymond started using Inspiration at university 12 years ago, and now uses it daily as a Learning Development Manager at Birkbeck University. Ray explains how he has used Inspiration throughout studying and in the workplace to overcome the challenges he faces with his Dyslexia, as well as the ways in which he is able to use Inspiration to help students in his current role.

When did you first start using Inspiration?

I was first introduced to it as a student, about 12 years ago. I think I was doing my masters in coaching and mentoring at Sheffield Hallam at the time, but I can’t remember who introduced me to it. I’m Dyslexic so it might have been support at the university, but I began using it to map complex ideas and produce models, theories of how things will happen in my masters assignments and in my dissertation.

What challenges were you facing with your Dyslexia that Inspiration was able to help?

It helps in terms of organising my ideas, for planning strategy and project management. I’ve found it useful for explaining to others about strategy, how aspects fit together, timetables in terms of actions, that type of thing. I use it every day and at work I very rarely write reports. I do all my explaining via Inspiration. I’m not always comfortable writing, but I find putting things together in a mind map and then talking people through it or adding a PowerPoint presentation does the job way better than a 5,000 word report that people get bored reading. With Dyslexia, I’m very mindful of producing something written that dilutes the message and may not be 100% grammatically correct.

Inspiration allows you to get your ideas out without having to focus on the process of creating the diagram. I think that is really important because when I’m in some sort of creative process or thinking deeply, the last thing I want is to lose that train of thought by getting frustrated because the software’s not doing what I want it to do. Inspiration does what I want it to do really easily and simply. And so, the focus is the creative process, not how to work a function on the software.

What is your role now?

Now I work as a Learning Development Manager at Birkbeck Uni, but I also work with students. I pass on details about the software, but I think the Disability Support Department specifically advises Inspiration anyway. So, I use it with students in terms of helping them organise their thinking, plan their assignments, plan their research, literature reviews and so on. It works especially well for students who are struggling, so are motivated to try something different and apply change. It’s simple to use, so I can be confident that when I suggest it to a student or to the learning support group, I know they’ll get the hang of it in seconds and there won’t be a problem.

As well as Inspiration, are there any other assistive technology solutions that you see as being complementary for a student?

I also find the speech-to-text software Dragon useful in terms of getting information onto the laptop, but I tend to use that more when I do have to write a long document. I can honestly say that I have used other mind-mapping software and very quickly become frustrated, because I don’t deem that it has the ease of use or the flexibility that Inspiration has.

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