Monday, October 11, 2010
Inspirational business women Gabrielle Mathiesen has succeeded despite her struggles with dyslexia, but also says it gave her the drive to work harder to achieve her goals.
Gabrielle Mathiesen is the creator of Open Book, a project that seeks to provide front line aids for dyslexics and others with reading difficulties as they make contact and arrangements with businesses.
As the deaf community has a yellow sign and symbol of an ear denoting hearing problems, she has designed an open book sign to alert front line staff to literacy issues. She talks here to Hayley McCaughan.
Images of a little girl sitting in a classroom of laughing children as the teacher taunted her still move Gabrielle Mathiesen to tears.
She was that girl.
Such was the lot of a dyslexic child who struggled to survive an English education system during the 1950s and 60s.
Today she is a vibrant local businesswoman who credits her struggles with dyslexia and an unhappy childhood to spurring her to independence and success.
Gabrielle has a face that belies her age and eyes that deliver both enthusiasm and wisdom from experiences hard won. Her blonde hair is styled into a soft bob and she wears her apparel with colour and flair.
And it is with flair that she speaks; quickly. Thoughts and ideas burst forth. Arms and hands deftly punctuate her speech.
There is much to tell.
Having dyslexia still presents daily challenges, she says, but her aim is to do something about it.
And now she has formed an organisation to give today's dyslexic children and adults the help she never received.
The creator of Literally Challenged, an organisation for those with literacy issues and specific learning disorders, she has kicked off with her Open Book project to provide front-line aids for literacy-challenged people as they engage in their daily business transactions.
As the deaf community has a yellow sign and symbol of an ear denoting hearing problems, she has designed an open book sign to alert front line staff to literacy issues.
She is promoting the concept that businesses, such as banks, come up with a one-stop CD that provides visual advice and instructions on how to apply for mortgages and other transactions, for instance.
Some of the major banks have already expressed an interest in the concept.
A one-stop CD would reduce staff workloads and provide the literacy-challenged customer the information they needed before they commit to a contract, she says.
Online help to transform written material to voice is another concept she is keen to see widely available for dyslexic computer users.
Gabrielle believes such procedures could stop dyslexics going to loan sharks simply because their systems are targeted at those unable to access or understand complex bank forms.