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Cognition – Emily

line drawing of person

Age: 40    Height: 5ft 9 ¾ ins

Lives in: Kent

Mild dyslexia

Assistive aids:
Contact lenses, predictive text

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What I can do

  • Can use a mobile phone and send a text message using predictive text
  • Can use a computer to browse the internet and send emails
  • Can drive
  • Can swim
  • Can type but not touch type

What I cannot do

  • Cannot see clearly unless wearing contact lenses
  • Sometimes loses track of what someone is saying and have to ask them to repeat what they have said
  • Sometimes forget that I am running a bath as it takes so long to fill up
  • Has difficulty in remembering numbers and must have the number written down or the person saying the numbers slowly
  • Has difficulty in reading and understanding passages of text and has to read them again to gain understanding
  • Cannot use the full functions of my mobile because I can’t understand the instructions or remember what the icons mean


I work in a school nursery with 3½ year olds to 4½ year olds as a nursery nurse.

My condition

I have dyslexia, which was only discovered when I was 20 years old. I have problems with my short-term memory. Reading books and understanding what they are about takes me a lot longer. I am a very practical and visual person. I need to be organised and I like to have a routine so I know where things are and that they have a place and I know where they are kept. I find learning the methods of doing new things initially hard, but once I learn them, it sticks.

I have a laptop to help with writing essays and presentations as it aids me with spelling even though I have made strategies for myself to overcome these difficulties. When it comes to exams I just can’t remember the information that I revised, as I cannot retain the information. So when studying, I choose courses that are practical. My concentration is not good so at times when holding a conversation I have to ask people to repeat themselves so that I can take it in. Repetition is good for me as it reinforces the information.

I join my vowels when I write but write consonants separately. The letters swim when I read and I have to use my finger to follow them along.  I need to read a passage of text several times before I can take it in and answer questions on it.  I used to have difficulty with numeracy but I was taught how to use number bonds about five or six years ago and that’s how I work out numbers.  If somebody gave me the number 87, I would work it out to the nearest ten and then either add on or take away from the nearest ten. I find mind maps useful when planning essays.

A typical day

I get up and go to work at the school where I have to write observations on the children and activities with them, which have been planned with the teacher. I get the train home and cook dinner. I study a bit in the evening for my course to become a teacher. And watch a bit of TV and bed.

Good designs and how they improve my life

Being a visual person, I prefer it if the designs have pictures to help explain how they work rather than me having to read words to understand. Being simple to use and practical, like a laptop, also helps – this helps me write essays or presentations for my college work.

Lessons for designers

Provide simple instructions and have pictures of how designs work.

Poor designs and how they impact my life

If they are not simple and easy to understand, I will not read it or use something and I just walk past it and don’t buy it. They just don’t interest me.

Anything without accompanying visual prompts or illustrations is difficult.  If there are a lot of numbers or pure text such as on train information displays, instructions without illustrations or it’s very wordy, such as when I go on the internet, I have to get someone to put it in simple words.

Five most important ‘things’ in my life

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Christian faith
  • Working with children
  • Studying

Message for designers

Be simple and have clear instructions. Look easy and simple to use, especially with repetitive usage.