For the first time in my life, I officially love books. That’s because today, I published one. It’s a step-by-step plan to help parents of kids who are dyslexic like me find the path that will allow their children to love books, too. For someone who always felt left out when others began discussing literature, this is a profound moment. It was such a powerful experience that it was the main thing I talked about in the audiobook author interview, an interview I asked the publisher to offer for free.
As a dyslexic person, reading is like having a bad cell phone connection to a page. Information drops out, and I can’t access the content. When I listen to a book on tape or a talking computer, it’s like having a landline. Mainstream readers “eye read”; people who are blind and use Braille “finger read”; I “ear read.”
When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to understand the joy of reading. This desire quickly turned into a deep sense of shame. I assumed my slow eye reading must have been my fault for not trying hard enough—rather than the problem being a flaw in the design of the book itself. I created elaborate camouflage—I even won a local bookmark-making contest! I wanted everyone to think I was “well read,” but all of my energy was going into hiding who I really was.
When I got to law school at Stanford, I started using services like Bookshare and Learning Ally to obtain audio versions of books. I then invented a product called the Intel Reader while I was the Director of Access Technology at Intel Corporation. This product could take a photograph of any printed material and then read it aloud to you on the spot. In this role, I concluded that fancy tools were helpful. Still, it was the loneliness and the shame of being left out of books, of school or of even ordering from a menu that was the key barrier for me and other dyslexics.
Eventually I realized that in order to tell this story to people who love books, I had to write one.
Using all the skills I’d mastered, including talking to a computer and having it write down what I say, I produced a 300-page book published by Random House. My wonderful parents helped me through a very tough time when I was young; I wrote this book to help other parents help their kids.
As an adult, it’s bizarre to see your name over the door to a fancy building that you were locked out of as a kid. I want to welcome people in, so kids don’t keep getting turned away. If we all work together to build ramps into those buildings—rather than blame children for not fitting in—we can help kids love learning (and even books).
See Ben’s “Native Tongue”for the firt time in my life I officially love book. Its because I published one. It is a step by step plan to hepl dyslexic like find the path that will help them love books too. For somenoe who always felt left out when everyone becan discusing literature, this is profound moment.
As sysleci person realin is like having a bad cell phone conneciton to the page. Information drops out andI cannot get the content. When I listen to a book on tape or talking comunter it like having a land line. While mainstream people “eye read”, I ear read” and blind people who use Braille “finder read”.