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HVACR and dyslexia: Time for industry to benefit from a new perspective - Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Last updated: 10-12-2020

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HVACR and dyslexia: Time for industry to benefit from a new perspective - Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

The inaugural Dyslexia in Engineering Day, which is taking place today, is seeking to change the conversation about the disorder in order to look at how the HVACR sector can better utilise and benefit from a neurodiverse workforce.

Event founder Steve Gill, himself dyslexic, had made the comments in a special podcast running across H&V News and RAC Magazine.

Mr Gill said that early engagement with a range of industry bodies from across the building engineering sector had focused on important issues about how industry could better support individuals with dyslexia.

However, the launch of Dyslexia in Engineering Day was intended to create a more positive view of what it means to be dyslexic and working in a highly technical industry such as heating and cooling.

This would involve moving beyond traditional perceptions of dyslexics struggling with reading detailed documentation or being asked to fill in lengthy and detailed application forms, instead looking at how best to utilise individuals to specific strengths.

Mr Gill said, “Let’s slightly try and shift the conversation and emphasis on this.  Dyslexics and neruodiverse thinking can bring a lot to a company.”

This perhaps reflected the everyday reality that dyslexia was a difficult condition to neatly summarise and sum up as a single experience.

Mr Gill said, “The one thing I find true is that dyslexics are usually creative people – creative thinkers and problem solvers – we learn differently, that is for sure, but we also think differently and we see the world in different ways.

“So we come up with different ways of thinking and processing information and creative thinking is something we are in need of us a society, and in engineering of course. Because we need to stop doing exactly the same as we have been doing and we need to start thinking differently and acting differently.”

He said that in the case of prominent individuals already working in the HVAC sector, such as former CIBSE President Andy Ford, this can lead to more innovative approaches to solving technical problems as a result of the different ways dyslexic people process information.

Mr Gill said that while trying to embrace a more positive approach to dyslexia in the cooling and heating sectors, it was important to note the role of workplace assessments and other initiatives to try and help dyslexics in different work environments and schools.

The podcast has also considered the different experiences individuals working across the HVACR sector, as well as the personal ways it can affect work.

As such, Mr Gill identified a need for role models and more open conversation about being dyslexic in such a technical field.

He said, “I think if more people were able to stand up and say, ‘I’ve done this or had this experience’, then shift the conversation to instead of ‘what can I do for a dyslexic?’ to ‘what can they do or me? How can they improve my bottom line?’

“Businesses are all about money and when I ran a business with many employees, that is what drove it. Of course, I’ll say on the podcast that it was human resources and the welfare of my staff that was paramount, it was the bottom line that was the be all and end all. And I truly believe that neurodiversity and dyslexia can really help the bottom line if they embrace the creativity and problem solving side of it.”

This ultimately boiled down to an industry-wide effort to change perceptions about dyslexia both to employers and the HVACR sector as a whole.

You can listen to the podcast in full here or in the player below.

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