Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects one in ten of us – a huge figure. That’s why it’s important that employees have the knowledge required to best support staff with learning difficulties.
In aid of Dyslexia Awareness Week, we’ve included some useful information on the topic, as well as some tips on how to provide a more accessible and inclusive workplace. Why? Because nobody should be held back from fulfilling their potential at work, whatever the circumstances may be.
Dyslexia: what is it?
Most employers will have staff with dyslexia – it’s important you understand the disability, so you can identify any tasks that may require assistance. People with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently, and may also find reading comprehension, spelling, and writing challenging.
This can impact day-to-day tasks. For example, it may take longer for the individual to deliver their projects, and the work itself might appear rushed and sloppy (if riddled with spelling mistakes).
Consider all the common workplace jobs that involve reading, spelling and writing – we’ve listed some common ones for you:
- Reading – Presentations, staff meetings, emails, CVs, job applications
- Spelling and Writing – Emails, press releases, job descriptions, social media posts
Once you’ve identified these tasks, think about any adjustments that could be made to assist the individual so they’re less stressed. Remember: it’s your job as an employer to provide the necessary facilities (and support) required so your employees can deliver.
How can I help?
There are myriad ways you can support staff with dyslexia so they’re able to achieve their full potential, and have a fulfilling career.
First off: find simple ways to adjust the employee’s work set-up – e.g. their desk, laptop, any software or assistive technologies – that will help them complete tasks more seamlessly.
Think about daily tasks that are unavoidable (such as work/client meetings, general communication and deadlines), and start making changes that have minimal impact on
the rest of the employees.
These may include the following:
- Workplace Needs Assessment – carried out by a dyslexia specialist, to determine the appropriate support required for the individual
- Different methods of communication – replace written communication with verbal where possible, even if it’s picking up the phone and leaving a voicemail
- Allow extra time – if there’s an assignment that requires a quick turnaround or deadline, give the individual extra time to read and complete the task
- Meetings – use visual aids such as PowerPoint, reduce the amount of text, and where possible, use diagrams and images instead. Try coloured text, or highlight key areas that require special attention
- Assistive technologies – if your budget allows it, invest in assistive technologies such as a screen-reader, scanning pen and mind-mapping software – all have proven to be effective tools and can be a real game-changer for some individuals.
- Be font smart – Good fonts for people with dyslexia include Helvetica, Courier, Arial, Verdana and Computer Modern Uni- code, whereas Arial Italics should be avoided at all costs, as it decreases readability.
Celebrate the strengths!
Although it’s classed as a disability, people with dyslexia are often good problem-solvers, can understand complex situations and tend to think laterally. There are so many strengths that can have a positive impact in the workplace (and beyond!) – and this should be celebrated.
Some of these common strengths include:
- They are ‘Picture Thinkers’: enabling more ideas, solutions and opportunities
- Sharper peripheral vision and good spatial awareness
- Highly creative and tend to excel in visual and creative fields
For further information, please visit The British Dyslexia Association.
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