Charity to trial dyslexia hashtag to stop social media trolls

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A Scottish charity believes a simple hashtag could stop the vicious online abuse of people living with dyslexia.

Dyslexia Scotland is preparing to launch an idea created by one of its members to inform followers when the account holder is dyslexic.

A universal hashtag would be placed under the account holder's name, to raise awareness and understanding over spelling or grammar mistakes.

The charity will gauge feedback on the idea over the next few months.

On Monday, dyslexic Labour MP Peter Kyle issued a plea to ask the "spelling police" to back off.

Image source, Jessica Taylor
Image caption,
Peter Kyle revealed the abuse he is subjected to when he gets words wrong

He described some of the comments left for him on social media as "sneering and brutal".

The 49-year-old asked social media users who call him "thick" over his writing mistakes to go easy on him as he is "living with acute dyslexia".

And in a candid Twitter thread, he said the platform could be an "unforgiving place for people with unseen challenges".

Chief Executive of Dyslexia Scotland, Cathy Magee, revealed on BBC Scotland's Mornings with Kaye Adams programme that the organisation is planning to launch the idea in its magazine in December.

She said: "The idea is to reduce the stigma and worry about incorrect spelling.

"It would be a universal, well-used hashtag after your signature. It could say something like #dyslexicme, #i'mdyslexic or #giftedwithdyslexia and it really could take away the temptation from the spelling police to point out errors. Hopefully then people will look beyond that to their communication and strengths.

"It would be voluntary and entirely up to people if they want to use it."

The idea came from Susie Agnew.

Image caption,
People could choose to put the dyslexia hashtag on their social media profiles to promote better understanding

She said in her proposal: "We would initially launch it in the public sector and to large employers but at the same time hope that publicity would encourage dyslexic employees to use it.

"It needs to be recognised, accepted and used by both employees and employers, and also by your friends and family for personal communication.

"We are ambitious and would like to see the chosen hashtag used throughout the world and become a recognised and well-used sign of being dyslexic."

Dyslexia Scotland will listen to members' feedback and hope to launch the programme next year. It also hopes to offer training and guidance to employers to explore the idea.

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Peter Kyle said he was recently given a hard time for spelling "border" as "boarder".

Most people were forgiving, he said, but some responded by saying "resign and let someone with a brain take over".

Mr Kyle told the BBC that he had no idea his post would get such a big reaction but he was excited that it seemed to have connected with people.

He said he was hopeful that speaking about his experience would give someone who was starting out on a similar journey as him "some kind of optimism".

"Most people from my background don't end up as MPs, which is tragic," he said.

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