Pictures and Dyslexia

24th April 2021

After a trip to my nearest IKEA store this week I have decided to dedicate this weeks post to its founder, Ingvar Kamprad. You may not have heard of him before but the company would not be the household name as it is today without him. Not only due to his entrepreneur type strengths but the name itself…

Ingvar Kamprad of Elmtaryd in Agunnaryd.

I would refer you to the IKEA website for details of the companies history. A young boy in Sweden, given money by parents due to hard work in school and overcoming challenges due to his dyslexia. An inventive mind uses that money to start a business. First of all a small mail order catalogue to what it is today.

2 quotes from the website…….

We love Challenges – Throughout our history, our best ideas have come from our biggest challenges, and we believe this is what makes us different.”

Diversity is a key to success, diversity comes in all shapes and sizes. Being ourselves, and contributing with our uniqueness, makes us all grow.”

Seems to me to be ideal personal statements for any dyslexic to live by? And support for the view that in todays world the collaboration of each individual’s strength is the key to success.

As a dyslexic, products identified by numbers were difficult to remember. So Ingvar decided to personalise and categorise the products into certain groups. Easier to remember and fill out forms.

Example of categories

Children’s products – mammals, birds and adjectives

Rugs – Cities and towns in Denmark and Sweden

Outdoor furniture – Scandinavian Islands

RobinStyle photos

So on my recent trip I purchased a garden table. To illustrate how a visit to IKEA can be educational I now know ‘Hattholmen’ is a Scandinavian Island.

On our return from said trip, the box was opened and there lay the ‘flat pack’ and instructions.

Anyone who has ever purchased a flatpack from IKEA will know that they come will Pictorial Instructions. Just pictures, no words.

Have you ever built an IKEA flatpack? Did you find it a challenge or easy?

Why no words? Some may say, so that the instructions can be understood internationally? Or some may question whether, as a dyslexic, Ingvar felt he could process and understand pictures better than words?

Is a picture worth a thousand words? Do pictures speak louder than words? These maybe sayings that have been around for some time but are they true?

The human brain is meant to process images 60,000 times faster than text.

The above study in February 2019 asked the question:

Is there a difference in semantic processing among dyslexics compared to typical readers in processing words and pictures?

The aim of the study:

To investigate semantic processing linguistic (words) and non- linguistic stimuli (pictures), to understand semantic processing and any breakdown among dyslexic readers.

Semantics is the study of meaning. Semantic processing joins together the various aspects of words meanings for example objects colour, shape and taste. Not just naming the word but all aspects to process meaning.

The study found there was a faster reaction time for all in pictures compared to words. Claims that pictures have ‘privileged access’ to the semantic system and therefore are processed more quickly than words.

There have been findings that suggest a better memory retention for pictures than words. The meaning of pictures maybe understood quicker than words as less processing needed.

Conclusions of the above study found that dyslexics were slower in reaction time than typical readers ONLY in words and not in pictures.

Looking forward to a sunny weekend when I can go outdoors and enjoy my new IKEA furniture.

Any comments always welcome.

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