A dyslexic entrepreneur is seeking the help of businesses and employees as he works to develop an assistive tool which will make email easier for people who share his condition.
Dileepa Ranawake, who was diagnosed with dyslexia at 18, is drawing on his background in technology and health projects to create Jisterly.ai, which will enable dyslexic people to read and prioritise their emails up to five times faster without having to open them.
Dyslexia is recognised as a disability under the Equality Act because individuals with the condition are considered to be at a substantial disadvantage when compared to people who do not have the condition.
In the workplace it is all too often poorly understood by employers who may not be aware of the indicators. As with any other impairment, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for someone who is dyslexic, and it is hoped this study will raise awareness of that.
Dileepa is a former CEO and director of Yorkshire-based technology and health business Kinata. He said: “With dyslexia you spend your life going through school and being told you are lazy and bad at stuff and most of the time you are trying about five times as hard as anybody else.
“There are obvious barriers to being dyslexic but there are big advantages too. People with dyslexia have off-the-chart abilities with problem-solving, creativity and verbal communication. More than one third of entrepreneurs are dyslexic. We need to empower people to do the things that they want, remove the barriers so we can help people double down on their strengths.
“There are so many dyslexic people who develop huge levels of anxiety every day and with me it’s about emails, so I am self-funding the research and development of Jisterly.ai to help people with dyslexia read their email up to five times faster by reducing the word count by 80 per cent and highlighting key information and actions.
“If you are really on form it might be slightly easier to read an email in a really quiet room, in the perfect moment. But the thing with excess anxiety is not knowing if the email is important or difficult and what the key tasks are. People with dyslexia spend so much time re-reading their emails and that drastically reduces the time they can spend leveraging the strengths of being dyslexic. We’re trying to fix that by removing a big barrier.”
The aim is to develop the service to work across any email provider, client or device. It’s being trialled among Dileepa’s business contacts and he is eager to gain feedback from a wider sample.
He said: “We need bigger organisations who have dyslexic employees because we want them to do more to support the 10 per cent of the workforce that has dyslexia. I am looking for employees and organisations, business leaders and owners who typically get a high volume of emails.
“There are about 7.6 million dyslexic professionals worldwide who use email and speak English. We want to reach people who are dyslexic and woke up this morning feeling as though they were about to go to war with their inbox.”
To contribute to the research please visit Jisterly.ai