A new word for dyslexia

Richard Branson and Kate Griggs on stage at the World Dyslexia Assembly
Made By Dyslexia
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 5 June 2023

Who came up with the word ‘dyslexia’? It’s so hard to spell – and say! If you could come up with a new (and easier to spell) word for ‘dyslexia’, what would it be?

I asked the audience this question when I joined Made By Dyslexia’s World Dyslexia Assembly recently, and their ideas did not disappoint. For instance, we heard words like ‘game-changer’, ‘multi-thinker’ and ‘creative thinker’. An honourable also mention goes to ‘oink’, with its explanation being that pigs are intelligent, but underestimated.

A post-it note which reads "Goose - fave word, easy to spell. Oink - pigs intelligent but underestimated"

The whole evening was fantastic, and I left the assembly feeling more inspired than ever by the powers of dyslexic thinking. After deviating a bit with my question to the crowd, I also discussed how my dyslexic thinking skills of being imaginative, but keeping things simple helped me build Virgin into the brand it is today. Throughout my life I’ve simplified everything. I didn’t like the experience of flying very much (most airlines seemed to be expensive, stuffy, and bland) so I got out a piece of paper and worked out how to start an airline - but do it better. So we launched Virgin Atlantic with just one plane and went on from there. More recently, we started a cruise line and followed the same approach of keeping it simple but doing things better. The approach worked again, and Virgin Voyages became the first brand to ever win all five awards at the Cruisers’ Choice Awards this year.

At the event, we were also joined by the dyslexic mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, who shared a brilliant example of how he used dyslexic thinking to solve a decades old problem. I was also amazed to hear from Dr Bob Ballard, who is one of the world’s greatest explorers and explained how he used dyslexic thinking to discover the wreck of the Titanic. Princess Beatrice, who co-founded the education charity Big Change with my children Holly and Sam, spoke passionately about the need to nurture dyslexic thinking in school and shared fascinating insights about where AI could take us next. A few weeks after the event, we launched the DyslexAI campaign with Made By Dyslexia, which shows how AI could be the perfect co-pilot for dyslexics to really move the world forward.

The assembly ended with a powerful rallying cry for people in the room (and well beyond) to create the change that needs to happen in every workplace and schools for dyslexics to thrive. Made By Dyslexia have shared the actions we can all take to create this change:

  1. Ask your school to ‘Learn Dyslexia’: ask the schools in your community to take a day for dyslexia, like every public school does in New York City right now.

  2. Ask your workplace to ‘Employ Dyslexia’: Ask your workplace to sign up to for Made By Dyslexia’s brilliant (and free) training, which will be available on LinkedIn Learning from October. While you wait, workplaces can get ahead by taking these extra steps here.

Thank you to Made By Dyslexia for putting on such a brilliant event, and for working so hard to empower dyslexic thinking. Learn more about the wonderful ways they do it right here.