Dyslexic Designer Busts Stigma

Innovation Hub At Stanford University

Gil Gershoni thinks of his dyslexia as a hyper-ability, not a disability. That belief is reflected in every detail of a new learning center at Palo Alto’s Children’s Health Council (CHC) that his firm designed for Stanford University and local high school students with dyslexia and other learning differences.


As the founder of San Francisco’s Gershoni Creative, Gershoni has dedicated his adult life to changing the narrative around dyslexia, inspiring young people to embrace their learning differences as hyper-abilities. Using his Dyslexic Design Thinking process, Gershoni designed the Center to be a space where students can come to discover their gifts, strengths, and potential – and develop a sense of community while optimizing their performance in school.

Inspired by the spirit of Silicon Valley, Gershoni disrupted the clinical design of a traditional learning center by creating an innovation hub for nonlinear, unconventional, outside-the-box thinkers. Repeating graphics urge all who enter to “Leave Your Assumptions at the Door.” The Center’s windows showcase art that appears to be floating, alerting passersby outside to “Creative Thinking in Progress.”

The walls are splashed with vividly colored graphics like “I have never believed in waiting around for perfection,” a handwritten quote by the Center’s namesake, financial executive and philanthropist Charles Schwab, who is also dyslexic. The space is multipurpose and supports a variety of ways for students to interact with their surroundings. Wall-to-wall whiteboards allow students to write and ideate outside the box. Elements within the Center can also be easily moved or rearranged to accommodate small or large groups, independent study, or collaborative moments.

“Working with Gershoni, who is dyslexic himself, in creating this space, was absolutely key. We wanted to transform the notion of what society perceives as a person with dyslexia or ADHD,” said Dr. Nicole Ofiesh, Director of Schwab Learning Center at CHC. “Their brains think and see the world differently – that’s a strength. What needs to be fixed is the environment, not the person.”