Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) (DAT 47)

Dyslexia and the difficulties associated with the condition should be far more widely accepted as a disability and so therefore should be afforded access to additional support and public schemes which are aimed at improving the lives of disabled people. At present we believe that the disabled railcard is specifically aimed at those with impairments which limit their ability to use other forms of transport. It is therefore restrictive in its eligibility and only covers physical and visual impairments and not specific learning difficulties as covered by the Equality Act 2010.

Disabled Persons’ Railcard is only available to people with the following impairments:

Are registered as having a visual impairment.

Are registered as deaf or use a hearing aid.

Receive Attendance Allowance.

Receive Disability Living Allowance at either.

Receive Severe Disablement Allowance.

Receive War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement.

Are buying or leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme.

Therefore the majority of disabled people would not be eligible; including those with mental health difficulties and chronic illnesses. Even those in receipt of incapacity benefit are not included, only those with the most severe disabilities.

People with Dyslexia often experience a great deal of trouble with organization and memory. This can have significant effects on their ability to navigate and follow directions (particularly oral directions). The public transport system is a good example of how Dyslexia can interact with day-to-day activities. The system can be a very confusing and difficult for a person with Dyslexia. The need to remember destinations, times, the position of trains or buses at specific points are all examples of how making a simple journey can be incredibly difficult. Similarly the way information is displayed and dispensed, often in ways inaccessible to people with Dyslexia. Furthermore this may impact upon work, educational, recreational, and familial activity. This may therefore contravene UNCRPD Article 9 (Accessibility) and Article 30.

The effects of poor working memory, sequencing difficulty and potentially for some, a difficulty accurately recalling strings of numbers, all lead to difficulties for many with managing their personal finances. Simple things such as cash machines, which rely on four-digit codes, are a very real issue for people with a working memory deficit. Buying a train ticket when there is a queue behind can be a frustrating experience for someone who has processing difficulties. Ticket machines can be equally hard for someone with dyslexia to understand, particularly if there are time restraints. Some dyslexics never understand the 24 hour clock which may pose additional difficulties. Onine information may be difficult to navigate without the appropriate adaptations provided such as text to speech software.

By failing to provide suitable alternatives to printed matter people with Dyslexia are prevented from accessing traditional sources of information , this can affect choices of which services to use or their providers. A restriction of this kind can therefore also reduce control over one’s life and activities. This failure contravenes UNCRPD Article 9 (Accessibility).

These issues could be mediated by a greater awareness of the difficulties discussed. By providing training to staff in transport services people with Dyslexia will be better able to obtain information or advice in a way that is accessible in both format and style.

Katrina Cochrane/Chris Rossiter, Policy Department BDA

January 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013