A dyslexic Chamber member made MBE has taken her annual award scheme national to shine a light on the talents of dyslexic individuals UK-wide, as well as educators and employers who consistently inspire and empower people with dyslexia to reach their full potential.
Elizabeth Wilkinson, who is a member of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, has successfully run The Dyslexia Awards in her home-county since 2015.
Now though, she says it is time to showcase the diverse skills and strengths of dyslexic people from all corners of the UK and businesses, education settings and individuals associated with the Chamber of Commerce are invited to get their nominations in before the closing date on July 14.
The awards will showcase the diverse skills and strengths of dyslexic people and those supporting dyslexics and the categories are: Amazing Artist Award, Entrepreneur Award, Learning Support Award, Community Shining Star Award (aged 20 plus), Exceptional Educator Award, Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) Award, Community Shining Star Award (aged 13 to 19), Innovation Award and Supportive Employer Award.
Elizabeth, who was made an MBE in the Queen’s recent Jubilee Birthday Honours List for her services to dyslexia, said the awards were about celebrating diversity in the workplace, showcasing the commitment of educators and marking the achievements of those who are dyslexic to bring about positive changes in society.
“I’ve dedicated almost my entire working career to raising awareness and greater understanding of dyslexia and have supported thousands of individuals in that time,” said the 50-year-old.
“These awards are about celebrating the amazing talents, skills and achievements of everyday dyslexics, as well as shining a light on supportive employers and excellent educators across the nation.
“So much has been achieved to promote diversity and inclusivity in business, education and society in general but, there is still a long way to go and a lot more work to be done.
“The awards focus on positives, strengths and amazing individuals and we are inviting applications from right across the UK for the first time in the awards history.
“There are so many terrific employers and educators who ‘get’ that dyslexics offer a vast array of skills, talents and solutions and are working tirelessly to encourage, inspire and empower their dyslexic students and employees to achieve their full potential and it is this work which the awards will recognise.”
Research suggests that one in ten people in the UK are dyslexic, however it is not usually identified in childhood and around 75 per cent of diagnoses happen in adulthood, either in the workplace or university.
Elizabeth was 33 when she received her dyslexia diagnosis and 39 when she discovered she was also autistic.
Understanding she was dyslexic only came about after she had been researching the specific learning difficulty (SpLD) to provide support to her dyslexic son and the teachers who were looking after his education.
She said: “It was like a penny had dropped. Everything I read sounded so familiar, but I just wasn’t aware before then what the core deficits of dyslexia were and their impact. Once I received an official diagnosis, everything started to make a lot more sense.
“I read a lot to understand more about my dyslexia, realised that I was okay and that I could pursue my dreams of working in education and I started to redefine my life.”
In 2007, with a fresh determination, Eli went on to set up her business, The Dyslexic Dyslexia Consultant and since then, she has trained thousands of business leaders and professionals on dyslexia and other SpLDs in the workplace.
She is also the founder of the Dyslexia Information Day – an annual event designed to help people access trustworthy, free information about dyslexia and other cooccurring conditions.
Then in 2015 she launched the first ever Dyslexia Awards for businesses and educators in the Shropshire region only. In 2020, the awards were open to nominations from across the West Midlands and this year, the scheme will go national culminating in an award celebration at Enginuity – an interactive engineering and design museum located in the heart of Ironbridge, the birthplace of the industrial revolution.
To see the full list of awards, information on how to enter and a timeline of key dates visit https://theddc.org.uk/dyslexiaawards/