The Long Road
Bringing Visual Dyslexia Glasses To Market
In 1992, after starting as a consulting design engineer selfemployed for the first time, I accidentally discovered that the filters that would later become the See Right Dyslexia Glasses removed the visual problems of one dyslexic. Having some time on my hands, I borrowed a library card from a friend that was teaching at UCLA so I could visit their biomedical research library and see what the literature had to say about dyslexia and vision.
I wasn't really impressed with the research on dyslexia. There seemed to be two opposing sides that argued about what caused dyslexia. Some thought the problem was visual and the other thought the problem was a brain processing problem. Neither side could find anything wrong with the eye or the brain.
About all the researchers could agree on is that dyslexia was a condition where an individual couldn't read as well as you would expect from their intelligence and that dyslexics seemed to be of average or above average intelligence.
If it hadn't been for Chris, I don't know if I would have followed up on my investigation about the filters and dyslexia. When I met Chris he was a 20-year-old special education student who did not know his alphabet and had never read a word. He was labeled mildly mentally retarded.
Chris had talents that seemed incompatible with not knowing the alphabet. He could take his bike apart and put it back together. Sometimes he would take other things apart and not want to put them back together, but if you yelled long enough he generally got it back together. He had what some would call street smarts.
He certainly seemed to fit the definition of having a lower reading ability than his intelligence would indicate.
In my unsophisticated way I thought "How smart do you have to be to know your alphabet? I have seen two-year-old kids sing the alphabet song, but I have never seen one put a bike together. Maybe Chris is dyslexic."
I puzzled about how to see if the filters (now in frames) would help Chris since he didn't know the alphabet. I finally wrote down the alphabet once in order and once below it scrambled and asked Chris to draw lines from A to A ,B to B, C to C, etc. I said, "Here's the A, Chris, find the other A and draw a line to it."
Chris could only match 13 letters. When he put on the glasses he could match all 26. In three days he could read the alphabet off flash cards and after a week he wrote his mother his first note with me spelling the words for him. His mother kept the note and here it is:
I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I had never read a book. If all of that information was erased from my brain. Then erase all the information that I understood because of what I read. Erase all the vocabulary I learned from books and all the verbal information I gained from knowing the vocabulary.
That is what I suspected life must have been like for Chris being slightly slow but extremely visually dyslexic--never learning to read or being identified as a dyslexic because why would anyone suspect him of being dyslexic when dyslexics are of average or above average intelligence.
I have some ingrained characteristics that are basically hardwired into my personality that I accept because that is just the way I am. I feel compelled to help others when I know that I can perform a task easily where that task would be difficult or impossible for them. I look at that behavior as a sort of tax of my time that needs to be paid so that the world is a better place to live.
I knew that if research was going to be done to find out if these filters were going to be of value to dyslexics I was going to be the one who had to do it. I also felt that the reality was that there was a large group of below average intelligence dyslexics that would never be tested for dyslexia because of the assumption that dyslexics were of average or above average intelligence. I felt a need to bring this information to the world, if true.
In my professional life in scientific research, I had built a personal picture of the functioning of physical reality built from the small ideas of how each and every part works and is interrelated. It was my experience that when research experiments failed or the wrong conclusions were drawn, it was usually because someone forgot something simple such as lighter objects floated or that most things expand with temperature.
I often hear from people that they don't understand my picture of reality so I am going to try another analogy. My picture is like a chess board observed over a long period of time. Every move represents a new fact and adds possible interactions. Each type of piece has its own rules it must follow just as facts come with only allowed interactions. As you play the game you know the results of all previous moves and their interactions and no longer have to think about them. If a piece moves to a square it is not allowed it will not fit the rules of the game and that sets off an alarm.
My picture of physical reality made my research life simple. If new facts fit into my picture, their relationships were self evident. Sometimes it was harder than others fitting the new information into my picture but I felt each functioning piece of information needed to be in its place.
Unfortunately the fact that the filter improved Chris's vision did not fit!!! It was driving me crazy.
It didn't take me long to determine what simple fact dyslexia researchers forgot when they came to the conclusion that dyslexics were usually of average or above average intelligence. I can add one word that makes their conclusion true but does change the conclusion. Diagnosed dyslexics are usually of average or above average intelligence.
It wasn't just Chris who made me come to that conclusion. It was another fact from my picture of reality. When a characteristic varies, there is a natural distribution of that characteristic that is represented by a bell shaped curve. In the bell shaped curve the highest values occur in the middle of the curve which we would call the normal range and tapers down to a few numbers with minimal characteristics at one end and a few numbers of maximal characteristics at the other end.
When I read that some researchers thought that dyslexics were of average or above average intelligence I knew they had made a false conclusion because a bell curve drawn from their conclusions would only be half a bell curve. This just does not happen in nature. I am not saying that they did not accurately represent what they had observed, just that they did not stop to consider why that was and therefore expand their conclusions to include all dyslexics and not just the ones they saw.
I see the same poor quality of conclusions often in research in general and dyslexia research in particular. I really believe that if the same researchers were confronted with the question of why the intelligence of diagnosed dyslexics seems so high and only represents half a bell curve, they would eventually come up with sampling bias as their conclusion.
I believe the fact that dyslexics may have any intelligence level will become better established as better identification methods are developed in dyslexia screening. This will not be an easy goal to accomplish, but the dyslexics of less than average intelligence are also deserving of help to reach their potential. I also believe that the ability of the See Right Dyslexia Glasses to help identify those that are visually dyslexic will earn them a place identifying visual dyslexics in the dyslexia screening process.
I was still being driven crazy by the fact that I could not determine a mechanism for what the filters seemed to do for the vision of dyslexics. I went down to Scripps Institute in San Diego on a consulting job. Without going into great detail my client had done work on ocular fluids from dyslexic's eyes. He had noticed not only that they were sometimes fluorescent but that the amount of fluorescence could vary from dyslexic to dyslexic and even observed a variance from eye to eye in the fluids from the same dyslexic.
It is easier to take apart a machine to see how it works than it is to design and build that machine. In much the same way, finding the piece of information that offered the possibility of a mechanism for how the filters might work for dyslexics put me on the path to where I am today offering the See Right Dyslexia Glasses for sale with a 100% money back guarantee.
Along the way I have talked with many dyslexia researchers. I will give credit to Dr. John Griffith, then dean of the College of Optometry in Fullerton, California and author of seven books on dyslexia for suggesting "Find the target group of dyslexics that the glasses work for." Keeping that advice in mind for 12 years while I interviewed dyslexics about their experiences with the glasses allowed me to come up with my claim.
For the dyslexic who can describe a visual problem that makes it hard to read, the See Right Dyslexia Glasses will remove that problem.
That is the target group of dyslexics that the glasses help.
I didn't realize at first how unusual in the dyslexia industry it was to have a clearly identified target group that your product will help. Most of the dyslexia industry seems to think that sales would suffer by limiting which dyslexics would be helped by their products. This is viewed as a problem and also requires worthless guarantees because of the percent of dyslexics who are not helped by any particular product.
On the theory that most problems can be turned into opportunities, giving dyslexics enough information to allow them to determine if they are likely to be in the target group of being helped by the See Right Dyslexia Glasses only reduces the sales to those who will not be helped. This does reduce the number of sales, but also makes having a money back guarantee possible by reducing the number of people not helped by the product who want to return the glasses.
I admit to a large amount of luck along the path of bringing the See Right Dyslexia Glasses to market, but the product wouldn't be here with a money back guarantee if it wasn't as described.
John A. Hayes