Ross Linnett’s Journey from Struggling Student to International Business Owner of Recite Me

07/20/2018 | By More

Ross Linnett, Founder and CEO of Recite Me, can still remember his first day of school with surprising clarity.

He recalls, “I was way ahead of everyone else in regard to reading. I think I was reading from around the age of 2, but from age 4 and 5 I was in a special reading class. You had to be pretty bad at English to get into this class!”

At that point, growing up in the mid 80s in north east England, Ross and his parents had never heard of dyslexia. Perhaps his teachers didn’t either. Knowledge of dyslexia still had a long way to come, but it quickly became known that Ross needed extra help.

Ross explains, “It was a less pressured environment, so I didn’t feel like I was getting into trouble. If a teacher really took their time with me, I could excel. It was obvious then that I needed an adjustment.”

Despite the clear signs that Ross needed extra assistance in the classroom, and even dyslexia testing, support from his school was minimal. Ross recalls, “One teacher even told me, ‘don’t be stupid, you don’t have dyslexia’ and a dyslexia specialist himself once looked at my school essay and told me I didn’t have dyslexia.”

During this disorienting time in school, Ross credits his talent in sports as building his confidence in school despite his struggles with reading and writing. “You never really get bullied at school if you’re good at sport, and it also gives you a lot of confidence,” Ross says, “But the thought of reading aloud used to send shivers down my spine. I’d be dreading it all day. It was the equivalent of jumping off a 100ft cliff.”

It wasn’t until Ross became President of the Students’ Union at Northumbria University that he forced himself to speak publicly and face his dyslexia head-on. As he explains, “I was presenting at the Students Union when somebody pointed out that their father specialized in dyslexia and suggested I get tested for it. I got myself tested at university, and they confirmed I had dyslexia.”

Ross soon learned that he wasn’t alone. As one of the most common learning disabilities in the world, common vision impairments and learning disabilities mean that millions of people around the world struggle with web accessibility, leading them to miss out on the valuable resources of the Internet including career development, socialization, learning tools and engaging with businesses.

The need for portable, cloud-based software that would make online content accessible to a variety of needs, including dyslexia and common vision impairments, became crucial. It was from this experience that Recite Me was born.

“We were involved with the Disability Discrimination Act as a Student Union at the time, but I was very aware that employers had to make the adjustments. It meant that every organization, [under the Disability Discrimination Act in the United Kingdom], had the responsibility to cater to people with dyslexia or visual impairments, in the same way that buildings had to install ramps for people with physical disabilities. Everyone had to do it, but nobody was because the technology wasn’t there, so that’s when I came up with Recite Me.”

Since its early days, Recite Me’s software has been improving the web experience for millions of customers around the world who live with vision impairments, disabilities, or dyslexia. As businesses continue to move their operations online, and with an aging population, we expects our software to become even more vital in the future.

Ross adds, “When you get diagnosed later in life, you tend to question things more. It made me realize how negatively dyslexia had shaped my life up until that point.” Despite a difficult time at school, Ross has certainly not let dyslexia hold him back.

After much success in the UK, Recite Me is now expanding their operations to the US. Part of this expansion plan included opening a new office in nearby Naples, inside the Naples Accelerator. Despite our growth, our original mission remains at the forefront: to support and aid those with dyslexia or impairments around the world.

Article written by Rachel Holbrook

Category: Apps/Accessories, Dyslexia, Freebies, News

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