John is a businessman and is dyslexic. He has two businesses and a third is in the pipeline. A chance discussion with a friend, who was a Disability Needs Assessor, led him to have an Access-to-Work assessment. This describes some of his inspiring story

So John, my first question is simple: Has technology helped you at work?

Yes, it has changed my working life. Without technology I would never have done my own quotes or invoices for my business.

What difficulties did you experience prior to getting assistive technology?

My partner had to do a lot of the written work for my business. I found it very difficult to read and my organisation was affected too. It was very depressing. My writing was the one thing in life that was holding me back.

How was your self-esteem/confidence with regards to learning and taking on new challenges?

Dyslexia is a hidden disability. There are people out there who don’t know they can get any help and they’re depressed, some are committing suicide. That was how I felt until I was 37 years old. I didn’t ask for any help because I didn’t think there was any out there. But that’s changed now, I’ve transformed my life.

So what changes have occurred since receiving your assistive technology?

I do all of my own quotes and invoices independently, plus use my electronic diary (PDA) to help me organise.When I get home and open my emails, instead of having to wait for my partner or son to come home to read it to me, I can open the software (Read & Write) and it can read it to me and I can reply, immediately (using Dragon Naturally Speaking), all on my own. It’s a great feeling.I can still remember how I felt when I sent my first email, I had tears running down my face. At 38 I sent my first email on my own, it was like being on Mount Everest, it was an amazing experience. I still haven’t got tired of that feeling even though I’ve had the software for a few years now. Others do it without thinking but my first email made me feel on top of the world.

So has this provision of the technology made a real difference to you?

Yes, without a doubt. Most people have the philosophy that they’ll never be given anything but I can now say that I have been given something, the computer and equipment. People don’t know it’s available.

What’s your experience of the Access-to-Work assessment process?

I was speaking to friend who was a dyslexia needs assessor, who said I could get help. I spoke to Access to Work and they did an assessment. Once the software and kit arrived I received training from iansyst. It has helped me achieve so much; it has transformed my life. There were a few struggles because of updates in the software; slight changes and things I’ve forgotten mean I don’t know quite how to use it. I did ask about getting more training but I haven’t heard back, so maybe I’m only using it to a fraction of what it can do.

If you could name 3 things which are the most important regarding your experience what would they be?

It has given me confidence in the office part of my business. I’m taking on new work. I’ve been on a course for work and I had to do an exam, I had help, but I got on with it and I wouldn’t have previously had the confidence. I’m telling myself I’m going to be a millionaire next year. Someone told me I’m the dyslexic entrepreneur.Without training I wouldn’t have used the technology given to me. It is one of the most important things going; money will be wasted on the equipment if you don’t get training on how to use it. It really made a difference.I achieve everyday now, I don’t have to fight. But there are more people who have depression with something like dyslexia, you label yourself, that’s the worse thing you can do. I was telling myself that until I was 37. Getting the software, along with the life coaches I have seen, I’ve taken away the label, and I’m better for it.

And what does the future hold for you?

Well I have my own signing business, plus a website for people recovering from debt. A new idea will start soon selling a shield to help cut down UV rays in the home. “When would now be a good time” that’s one of my business philosophies. It’s a passion of mine to show people what you can do. Just because you’ve got dyslexia you can have a job where you wear a suit. Dyslexic people put things off, you don’t get it done and you tell yourself you can’t do it, but you can.I’ve been doing talks to teachers and schools about my experiences of dyslexia. I use pictures to remind me about what I’m going to say because I’m a visual person. I’m surprised that only a handful of teachers have heard of the software. With technology you can feel as good as I do now. We just have a problem with reading and writing.

John Tipping, Dyslexic Entrepreneur