EDGE (Japan Dyslexia Society), a Certified Non-Profit Organization, promotes and supports the correct recognition of dyslexia. This time, we interviewed with Todo-san, Representative Director of EDGE.

Study tour in India“Asia Pacific Dyslexia Festival & Symposium 2016” Asian representatives

Please tell me what prompted you to establish EDGE.

The reason I established EDGE was because my oldest son, who studied in England at the age of 15, was diagnosed with dyslexia there; he said: "I am fortunate to have a mother who provided me with the educational environment and supported me when I wanted to go to the UK; I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the UK right away, I got to know myself, I got immediate support and I could see my way forward. When I think back, there are children in Japanese schools who have a harder time than me. I'll be fine, so please do something to help those in need in Japan."

In response to my eldest son's wishes, I established an NPO in October 2001. On September 14, 2017, it became a certified NPO in recognition of its public interest. This year marks 22 years since we started our activities.

What has been the most difficult and positive thing since the foundation of the nonprofit organization?

At the beginning of the organization, mothers of dyslexic children became board members, and activities were centered on working as a network of families facing similar situations. After that, I called for an expansion of the scale of activities to solve the social issues related to dyslexia, however, differences in opinions led to a reorganization of the members who run the NPO with me. It was a painful experience, but as a result the organisation’s activities have greatly developed, and we can now carry out various activities, such as cooperating with other organizations related to developmental disabilities, reaching out to the Ministry of Education to propose policies and programs.

Through outreach to government agencies, we have been involved in the legislation of laws such as the Act on Support for Persons with Developmental Disabilities, the Act on Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities, the Textbook Barrier-Free Act, and the Barrier-Free Reading Act. Dyslexia is an invisible challenge. We have been able to take a step forward in the foundation of promoting activities that bring people to know more about the background of difficulties, support, and the unique capabilities of people with dyslexia.

How are you using the donations from FIT?

EDGE emphasizes the widespread use of assessment to create a society in which all people with dyslexia can live actively. Dyslexia is defined as a condition in which there is no intellectual challenge, no abnormality of the organs of vision and hearing, but symptoms of reading and writing difficulties are observed. According to a survey conducted in Europe and the United States, 10% of the population may have dyslexia. However, in Japan, for example, there are only a few cases reported e.g., only a few application are made for consideration in the common test for university admissions. One reason for this is that in Japan, a medical diagnosis is required for the common university admission test, but in Europe and America, consideration will be given based on educational diagnosis and assessment, a big difference. The reason for this is that dyslexia assessment itself is not yet widespread in Japan. In the UK, anyone who is a class teacher at a school can do an assessment. In order to increase the number of opportunities for assessment, we will this year first develop an initiative to increase the number of assessors (i.e., those who conduct assessment) through e-learning. Assessment is very important for children to get to know themselves, for parents to understand dyslexia and realize how to teach it, and for thinking about making their lives happy. By finding out how much difficulty there is in what aspects through the assessment, we can plan learning methods, support in school, and reasonable considerations.

EDGE has conducted about 500 individual assessments so far, but we also feel the need for group assessments. It is because these can detect the difficulty of reading and writing in the early stage. It is done in units such as local governments, school boards and schools. This year, the program will be held in Minato Ward, Kure City, Seisa Junior High School and Odawara City.

Writing Workshop

What kind of activities do you plan to expand in the future? What are your future prospects?

We want to leverage the metaverse to expand online places for dyslexic children. An ongoing project commissioned by the Children and Families Agency will provide an empowerment center in the metaverse. It is scheduled to pre-open in October and officially launch in December. It is an open platform where anyone can participate, learn from role models, conduct assessments when necessary, collaborate with your peers, communicate externally, exhibit works, and view videos. In addition, in order to realize our need to strengthen communications, we will hold a competition in August and exhibit the awarded works. I want to make it a space where participants can talk to each other immediately and feel comfortable.

Group photo at the campA metaverse workshop and resulting virtual shared space (top right)

In Singapore, there are 16 dyslexia learning centers nationwide. Although development support centers have been established in Japan, little has been done to address dyslexia, and it is desirable to strengthen empowerment and create opportunities to exchange. October is dyslexia awareness month, a movement started in recent years as the United Nations has plans to adopt the Dyslexia Declaration on October 8. EDGE plans to exhibit its booth at the Minato Citizens Festival in Minato Ward, Tokyo on October 7 and 8, 2023. There is a plan to open a model room for about two weeks a year later and to establish a permanent center the following year. We also want to spread this to other regions.

What kind of support can we provide? Finally, please send a message to anyone reading this article.

First, it is most important to know about dyslexia. The developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder and ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) are said to be diagnosed in young children aged 1~3. On the other hand, dyslexia, a learning disability (LD), is usually not recognized before schooling age. Parents may take time to understand how to guide their dyslexic children and how to make their children's lives happy. I would appreciate it if you could help me spread the word so that people with dyslexia can demonstrate their natural abilities in a way and environment that suits them. I would like to continue to increase the number of people who understand and support dyslexia and become evangelists.

Ms. Nakajima, FTCJ's Representative Director (Center) and FIT2022 organizing committee members; Mr. Takahashi (Left) View of the architecture workshop

EDGE, a certified non-profit organization