Disabled Voices Online: The Codpast
Have you ever tried googling what dyslexia is? Well, I have and the most useful result that comes up on the first page, is an NHS page that tells you about what symptoms in small children suggest they have dyslexia.
Now, there’s kind of nothing wrong with that page, in fact, it may be quite useful if you’ve a small child who you suspect has dyslexia. But the truth is, a lot of people don’t find out they have dyslexia until they’re considerably older and many say they have a hard time trying to find out what exactly it is and what to do about it. There isn’t very much in the way of an easy explanation as to what dyslexia is and how to deal with it. Noticing this problem in his own experiences, dyslexic film producer Sean Douglas set out to try to create a fun and entertaining platform for content about dyslexia.
For our second instalment of Disabled Voices Online, I had the pleasure of talking to Sean Douglas the founder of The Codpast, a podcast that strives to provide entertaining dyslexia related content for students and adults with dyslexia. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties resulting in a problem with the recording, I was unable to make a direct transcript of the interview. So, this post has been structured in an article format rather than the long form interview style I have been using.
What led Sean Douglas to start The Codpast was a problem at work. Having dyslexia meant that Sean is good at tasks such as organising projects and being creative, but that he struggles with paperwork, due to the difficulties dyslexia causes with reading and writing. Because of this, his skillset was well-suited to the role of a film producer, but through normal career routes to do that job he would have to be an assistant producer first. But it is the assistant producer who does most of the paperwork. Fortunately, with the company he worked at he followed an unusual career path and became a film producer, which suited him well. However, when the company he worked for was shut down, he took a step back and tried being an assistant producer. This position involved him doing piles of paperwork for a multitude of people, which they wanted doing in a way that suited them, but wasn’t necessarily a way that suited him. The paperwork took him so long due to his dyslexia that he ended up coming in very early in the mornings just to get his work done. After three months, the company had a meeting with him and said that other colleagues did not like him and that he needed to organise himself better because no one else had to spend so long working. They said he had a month to sort out the problem. He left his position straight away.
So, as he like so many others had found that there wasn’t enough fun and interesting content available about dyslexia, he started The Codpast, a podcast that covers dyslexia in an entertaining manner, similar to the method in which other content platforms for entertainment cover their content, as opposed to the way in which academic reference sources cover the topic. The Codpast started off just as a podcast, which he as a dyslexic person and producer, was good at running. As The Codpast grew it also encompassed a website with video content. He started doing some blogging work as well. He also runs his own film company called Extraordinaire Digital Media, through which he produces a variety of different videos such as company videos and promotional videos as well as The Codpast.
As a dyslexic person, running this business allows Sean to do the things he is good at: filming, interviewing and speaking to people which he can do over the phone or in person and producing good strong audio and video content. To help him do this, he uses a variety of software, such as: Texthelp Read&Write, ClaroRead, Global Auto-correct, Sonocent Audio Notetaker, Conversors Notetalker, Inspiration Mind-Mapping and Appigo Todo.
For activities he finds problematic, such as emailing and updating social media, his business partner supports him. This makes things considerably easier, as because one of the areas dyslexic people have difficulties with is spelling. Amongst themselves and those who know them, this is not so much of an issue as such people wouldn’t be bothered by a few odd spelling errors, however the wider public who don’t necessarily understand dyslexia, may see this as unprofessional or even as stupid. So, rather than him spending hours worrying over spelling, having a business partner means he can do the things he is good at and she can help him with the things he finds a problem.
For promotion of The Codpast, Sean uses a range of different platforms, such as social media, events and engaging with other organisations. Because as discussed above, reading and writing are a bit of an issue for dyslexic people, The Codpast do a considerable amount of marketing through attending events and engaging with other organisations. Their content also suits a dyslexic audience well through the use of audio and video content, as well as a feature on their site called BrowseAloud, which allows users to have the page read to them.
The Codpast is all about supporting people with dyslexia with everyday life. Their site covers areas such as: entertainment, technology and help and advice. Content they’ve produced recently has included a continuation of the interviews with different relatively famous dyslexic people which make up the main podcast, reviews of assistive technology and coverage of famous people who have dyslexia. It is noteworthy, that there are some rather famous people who they cover, who you may probably never guess are dyslexic, such as: famous film producer Tim Burton, famous businessman Richard Branson and famous poet and professor Benjamin Zephaniah. For the Olympics, they also did a video about ten famous dyslexic sports personalities. Additionally, they provide regular coverage of the dyslexic stars in films that are coming out which have recently included: actress Lauren Mcrostie, actor Woody Harelson and actor Mark Rufallo.
For other creative organisations that cover dyslexia, Sean Douglas recommends another podcast called DysAdvantage, which you can find here:
He also recommends The Dyslexic Advantage which is a website and book, which you can find here: http://www.dyslexicadvantage.org/
If you’d like to check out The Codpast, which I highly recommend, follow the following link: thecodpast.org
Contact Aidis Trust if you’d like free advice or training on software such as Texthelp Read & Write or Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Thanks to Sean Douglas for taking the time to speak to me.
If you’ve any thoughts on The Codpast or dyslexia in general, please post them in the comments below.
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