Lord Addington holds prominent roles such as Party Spokesperson for Special Education Needs and is also president of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). He has more than just a passing interest in dyslexia. It is more personal; he is dyslexic.
At the age of 6 or 7, it became apparent that there were signs that Lord Addington was dyslexic. His Glasgow born mother played a prominent part, not just getting involved with supporting her son and being his guiding light, but also threw herself into working with the BDA. It was through her connection with the BDA, and Lord Addington’s introduction to the Charity, that he, through time, became President.
During his younger years Lord Addington says that dyslexia hadn’t really penetrated mainstream education or society. He was allowed to retake his O’Levels after his mother discovered dictating to a scribe improved his performance. It was this breakthrough that marked the way forward in Lord Addington’s education, allowing him to achieving academic success. He passed on the exams that he had previously failed.
Lord Addington’s eventual success at school led him to Aberdeen University where similar success followed. He has been accredited as being one of the very first people in the UK to be allowed to dictate his course work all through University. It was whilst at university the subject of support for dyslexia in higher education was first raised.
Attitudes and the levels of support for students have changed over the years. Dyslexia is now considered a disability, providing a statutory right to be supported through higher education and providing access to the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
Using his own experiences, Lord Addington has campaigned over many years covering many areas related to dyslexia. The most recent being a Private Members Bill passed through Westminster to have dyslexia as a mandatory subject included in the teacher training syllabus in England and Wales. He considers this incredibly important for teachers, giving them the expertise, they need to identify and support children in their early years.
Prior to this Bill, Lord Addington encountered issues in changing the law when he tried to get the mandatory English test for apprenticeships to be made more dyslexia-friendly. It took a total of 3 ½ yrs to resolve. It took a threatened rebellion against the government at thee time, and a threat of legal action from the Equality Commission to enact change. As a result, both Houses of Parliament have become more dyslexia aware.
Since becoming involved with BDA, Lord Addington says that changes have become almost incalculable. W here once the reception given to people with dyslexia was ‘freaks’ and occasional ‘genius freaks’, it has now become the norm, challenging educators and employers. Above all, it is the legal and moral acceptance that people should be assisted to attain success particularly where assistive technology is readily available.
This has become a game changer and has helped Lord Addington and countless others, who are in similar positions.
Lord Addington is also Chairman of Microlink PC (UK). Microlink’s expertise is in providing workplace solutions for all disabled staff. Workplace assessments are carried out and suitable information technology put in place. Microlink believes that supporting disabled workers in the workplace can help to reduce absenteeism and to increase productivity.