The award-winning and Vestas-developed program, aimed to educate and help Danish employees read and write better, is going to be introduced to Vestas’ American colleagues. In August 2010, program creator Kaj Andersen and IT Support Erik Jensen will travel to Vestas’ production facilities in Colorado, USA, to plan the first course.
“First, we will try to find shop stewards and other people who can help identify the needs. We want to know how many interested employees there are. Second, we need to find skilled teachers,” Andersen explains. According to the Dyslexia Association, as many as 20 per cent of the workforce in the area could be either slow readers or dyslexic.
To date, 310 Danish Vestas employees have participated in the program. It involves not only education and coaching by certified teachers, but includes a pen scanner and a PC containing highly specialized software, that helps the reader scan, write, and read text out loud.
“It is a solid mix of really good and reliable pieces of hardware and software. I worked with dyslexic programs before, so I know what the flaws and shortcomings are. We handpicked everything from the software and digital dictionaries, to the actual PCs and pen scanners. Then, we put it all together in a backpack that every course member gets when they enroll,” Erik Jensen says. Vestas pays for the entire package; all employees have to do is sign up.
Since the program won the annual Dyslexia Award from the Danish Dyslexia Association in 2008, many Danish Vestas employees have received the education and the special backpack. And Kaj Andersen urges all Vestas’ slow readers to consider joining.
“It’s an old and incredibly wrong misconception that dyslexic people are less intelligent than their ‘reading’ colleagues. Dyslexia and intelligence have nothing to do with each other. By taking this course, not only will participants learn to read faster, but they may experience an improvement in their quality of life – and that could lead to an improved Vestas. It’s a win-win for everybody”.
As the stories of success spread, so do the numbers for enrolment. Another 300 Danes are expected to enroll in the near future.