Fife farmer opens up on impact of dyslexia to back new awareness campaign
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Pete Black has spoken about the impact on his life and farming career as part of a new campaign launched by Scottish agricultural charity RSABI working with Dyslexia Scotland. Around 25% of Scotland’s farmers are estimated to have dyslexia, but many have never been formally assessed.
The initiative runs as part of Scottish Dyslexia Awareness Week (November 1-7), and aims to drive awareness of how to make information in farming more dyslexia friendly by taking simple steps to improve communications. During November and December, RSABI will be offering farmers and crofters a free professional assessment - it normally costs around £500. The RSABI’s free confidential support service is available 24 hours a day at 0808 1234 555 or through a confidential webchat service, available at www.rsabi.org.uk
Pete, who farms at Newton of Collessie, spoke openly about having dyslexia when the Black family appeared in the “This Farming Life” series. He said he didn’t realise he had dyslexia until he was an adult by which time he had developed a range of coping strategies.
“When I was at school in the 1990s dyslexia wasn’t spoken about very much but I knew I was always last to finish my reading. The words would jumble in my head when I was looking at them and then they would jumble even more when I tried writing them down,” he said.
Pete said there are times, such as when he wants to clarify something on official websites which involve monochrome and block text, particularly with complex jargon, can be very difficult to process. He said it was great to see children these days benefitting from dyslexia being picked up much quicker and at an early stage in primary education, so that children can be taught techniques and strategies to help them from a young age.
“Teachers these days are spot on and for my age group and older the awareness is becoming better, which is fantastic.” he added. “I am lucky to do a job I love but it was a great relief to me to discover that I had dyslexia and to know that the reason I was struggling wasn’t down to a lack of effort or not trying hard enough.”
Encouraging others who suspect they may have dyslexia but have not been assessed to contact RSABI, Pete said that by doing so they may well learn something which will help make life easier, as different approaches work best for different people.
“My advice to any young person, and especially those in farming, is dyslexia should not hold you back in any way. You just have to find the best management technique for yourself – whether it is different fonts or different colours of paper you read from. Try not to worry as there are hundreds of successful people living life to the full who have dyslexia and it has not stopped anyone doing anything. It is just a different way to look at a problem.”