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Literacy, advocacy and agency: The campaign for political recognition of dyslexia in Britain (1962-1997)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-1326
Number of pages21
Issue number4
Published1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Social History of Medicine. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


This article charts the campaign for political recognition of dyslexia in Britain, focusing on the period from 1962 when concerted interest in the topic began. Through the Word Blind Centre for Dyslexic Children (1963-72), and the organisations that followed, it shows how dyslexia gradually came to be institutionalised, often in the face of government intransigence. The article shows how this process is best conceived as a complex interplay of groups, including advocates, researchers, civil servants and politicians of varying political stripes. Necessarily, the campaign was mediated through broader political, economic and social changes, including the increasing requirement for literacy in the productive worker, but it is not reducible to these factors. In this way, the article reflects on the conceptualisation of power and agency in accounts of the history of dyslexia to date and its broader relevance to the history of learning difficulties and disabilities.

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