Can We End the Dyslexia Debate?

PhD Thesis

Abu Omar, D. 2023. Can We End the Dyslexia Debate? PhD Thesis Education
AuthorsAbu Omar, D.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of philosophy

The current thesis explores my longstanding interest in the influence of the constructions of dyslexia on people labelled with dyslexia. Specifically, it investigates the impact of sustaining these constructions of dyslexia within universities in England, with two main aims. Firstly, to explore the influence of dyslexia as an arguable biological impairment on individuals labelled with dyslexia in Western societies. Secondly, to investigate the unexplored influence of the constructions of dyslexia on students labelled with dyslexia in English universities. To do this, I explore the impact of “Biological and Consumerist Discourses” on sustaining the existence of these constructs, and the influence of these discourses on students labelled with dyslexia in English universities. For this purpose, a dual theoretical and empirical design was employed. Three types of empirical data were collected: a) disability support policies, available as e-documents, were collected from 20 universities, b) qualitative surveys conducted by 40 universities into the opinions of students labelled with learning difficulties, including dyslexia, on the quality of support services they received, were obtained by Freedom of Information Requests, and c) data on the number of students labelled with dyslexia in 20 universities were obtained by Freedom of Information Requests. The theoretical analyses within this thesis led to the conception of four categories of constructs of dyslexia and identified factors within biological and consumerist discourses that affect which category of construct a student is likely to fall into. Furthermore, the qualitative survey data confirmed that students can be categorised according to their opinions and experiences with support services. The current thesis sheds light on the influence of the constructions of dyslexia, which create an intertwined relationship between students labelled with dyslexia and English universities. It further explores how the biological discourse has become hegemonic in English society and the implications of this for universities and students with dyslexia in the light of the rising importance of therapeutic culture in HE. Implications of this discourse for other educational institutions (for example, schools) and social care institutions (for example, nursing homes) are also discussed. Finally, the Equality Act (2010) is critiqued in the case of hidden disabilities and dyslexia in particular, and the inconsistencies of implementing disability legislation in HE are discussed in the light of hidden disabilities and dyslexia. As such, it offers a novel contribution to the current understanding of dyslexia as a social phenomenon as this influence remains unexplored in English universities.

KeywordsDyslexia, Disability, Biological Discourse, Consumerist Discourse, Biological games of performance, Consumerism, Marketisation, Social inclusion
PublisherCollege of Arts, Humanities and Education, University of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
File Access Level
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited17 Oct 2023
Permalink -

Restricted files


  • 386
    total views
  • 16
    total downloads
  • 15
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as