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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The CodPast Celebrates the Cool and Creative side of Dyslexia

I’m so please to feature and share an interview with Sean Douglas and his Codpast!  Sean is an internet broadcaster with experience in broadcast TV news, public relations, corporate communications and podcasting.  After Sean was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult and met other successful dyslexics, he created the Codpast, to share those stories and more with the public.

My Interview with Sean:

1) Can you please give us a brief description of The Codpast?

The Codpast is a media portal which consists of three online radio shows (podcasts), a blog, news articles and videos.  The main purpose of The Codpast is to celebrate the cool and creative side of dyslexia.  We hope it will be a place where people can come to hear positive stories that they can identify with and pick up tips and advice.  Ultimately though, we hope it will be a place where people can come to find compelling and interesting content.

2) I understand that you were diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult.  What impact did this have on you as a person and a professional?

At the time it didn’t have a huge impact, as I already knew I was dyslexic.  The diagnosis just meant I had confirmation and a certificate to prove it.  At that point, I was a news cameraman which utilized a lot of my dyslexic strengths, so once I got the diagnosis I kind of just forgot about it.

3) Many individuals with dyslexia have genius qualities.  What do you believe are your most amazing talents?

I’m extremely organized.  I wouldn’t say this is a talent, as it is something I have to work at incredibly hard. However having everything organized is what allows me to function in the kind of work I do now.  For instance I have about 12 email addresses.  Most people would see this as a huge pain but for me this is great.  I see each inbox as a folder, so for me this is actually a system where emails automatically sort themselves into the correct folders.  This is a bit time consuming to set up but once it’s up and running is saves me hours.

4) What are the ways that dyslexia creates challenges for you?

Reading and writing are challenging.  Writing emails takes forever and takes a huge amount of energy, especially when trying to convey a complicated concept.  As the world now relies more and more on text-based communication, this is a bit of an issue.  Whenever possible, I will give someone a call.  Even if it takes me a few days to get hold of someone on the phone, I know that in a 5 minute conversation I can achieve what would have taken me hours of email writing.

5) What can people learn from your website and podcasts?

I really hope people are inspired and entertained when they come to my site or listen to the podcast.  I try and keep the guests as varied as possible, so hopefully there will be many guests that people can personally identify with.  I also want to make the site quite fun and contemporary, so we do things like our Top 10 videos.

6) Who were the two most interesting people you interviewed and why?

Every story we have featured so far is different, but two that standout for me are Episode 5 with Aakash Odedra and Episode 6 with Peter Stringfellow.  I think Aakash’s story shows how important it is to accept your dyslexia. He had achieved so much in his life, but it wasn’t until the age of 21, he had an incident with his passport which forced him to accept that dyslexia was a part of him.  This allowed him to take his career to the next level.

Peter’s story was a pretty epic rock and roll tale, incorporating the Beatles, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  But at its core, it reinforces the fact that in life things don’t always plan out the way you thought they would.  Although it may be difficult at the time, in hindsight these mishaps are generally the things that push you in a new direction you may never have thought of.

7) What have you learned from creating the Codpast?

Producing the Codpast I have learnt a hell of a lot about myself and how dyslexia has shaped the person I am.  It’s great connecting with other dyslexics and realizing there are other people that do some of the weird and quirky things that I do.  When you realize there are a whole group of people doing the same things as you, they suddenly become less strange.

The self-awareness that I have gained from producing The Codpast has also given me the confidence to be less apologetic about being dyslexic.  It’s also made me more pro-active in doing things and obtaining information in the ways that best suit me and yield the best results.

8) What can people do to support your effort?

The best thing that people can do to help the show keep going is to spread the word.  I would love people to tell their friends, retweet and share our posts on Facebook and Twitter.  Another thing that really boosts the show's visibility is when people subscribe to the show on iTunes and leave 5 star reviews; this helps the show get on the featured list on iTunes.  There is also a donations page and any donations large or small really supports this cause as, at the moment, I fund the show myself.

I also had the great opportunity to Skype with Sean.  We had fun sharing our passions and experiences.  One area that Sean discussed was the different types of assistive technology that he utilizes.  Here is a list of his four favorites:
  1. ClaroRead:  ClaroRead is text to speech software for the internet as well as scanned books and documents.  It includes visual tools such as colored text, highlighting, and it offers an enhanced spell check, homophone check and thesaurus.  ClaroRead can even read the words as you type.
  2. AudioNotetaker: Audio Notetaker offers a visual and interactive form of note-taking where audio, text and images are used to create comprehensive notes.  
  3. Global AutoCorrect:  Global AutoCorrect allows you to focus on your writing as it automatically corrects your spelling as you type. 
  4. Encrypted dictaphone:  This device records audio and is converted to another form that can not be easily understood by anyone but the authorized parties.  
Sean also shared a video of a recent speech that he gave at the Moat School in London on how Dyslexia has impacted his work life.  Thanks Sean!
So, please check out the wonderful free podcasts and other goodies at Sean's site, and share this gem with your friends and loved ones.  To learn more go to: http://thecodpast.wordpress.com/

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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