Dyslexia, a prevalent learning difficulty, affects a significant portion of the global population. While it primarily impacts reading and writing skills, it doesn’t reflect an individual’s overall intelligence or potential.
In the workplace, supporting dyslexia is not just about compliance but also about creating an inclusive environment where every employee can shine. In this post, we’ll explore the ways businesses can effectively support employees with dyslexia, ensuring a harmonious and productive work environment.
Before we dive into the strategies for supporting dyslexia at work, it’s crucial to understand what dyslexia is.
Contrary to popular belief, dyslexia isn’t just about mixing up letters or reading slowly. It’s a neurological difference that can affect memory, organisation, and processing speed. Recognising this is the first step in offering the right support.
“I was one of the ‘puzzle children’ myself — a dyslexic . . . And I still have a hard time reading today. Accept the fact that you have a problem. Refuse to feel sorry for yourself. You have a challenge; never quit!”Nelson Rockefeller
Offer Training and Awareness Sessions
Knowledge is power. By offering training sessions on dyslexia, you not only educate your staff but also foster empathy. When colleagues understand the challenges faced by an employee with dyslexia, they’re more likely to offer support and patience.
Use Assistive Technology
With the rise of technology, there are numerous tools available that can make the workplace more dyslexia-friendly. Software that offers text-to-speech, spell checkers, and grammar checkers can be invaluable. Screen readers and colour overlays can make reading on screens easier for those with dyslexia.
Provide Clear Instructions
For an employee with dyslexia, processing verbal instructions can sometimes be challenging. Therefore, it’s beneficial to provide clear, written instructions or visual aids. This ensures that tasks are understood and executed correctly.
Encourage Open Communication
Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their needs is paramount. Encourage open communication, allowing employees with dyslexia to voice their concerns and needs. This not only builds trust but also paves the way for tailored support.
“I never read in school. I got really bad grades–D’s and F’s and C’s in some classes, and A’s and B’s in other classes. In the second week of the 11th grade, I just quit. When I was in school, it was really difficult. Almost everything I learned, I had to learn by listening. My report cards always said that I was not living up to my potential.”Cher
Offer Flexible Working Hours
Some individuals with dyslexia might find certain times of the day more productive than others. By offering flexible working hours, you allow them to work during their peak productivity periods, ensuring better results and overall well-being.
Provide Additional Time
Tasks that involve reading or writing might take longer for someone with dyslexia. Recognising this and providing additional time, especially for tasks like report writing or data input, can make a world of difference.
Use Dyslexia-Friendly Fonts and Colours
Certain fonts and colours can make reading easier for those with dyslexia. Consider using dyslexia-friendly fonts like Arial, Verdana, or Tahoma in company documents. Additionally, using a good contrast between text and background can enhance readability.
Offer Regular Feedback
Regular feedback sessions can help employees with dyslexia understand their strengths and areas of improvement. Constructive feedback, delivered empathetically, can boost confidence and guide them towards better performance.
“Dyslexia is not a pigeonhole to say you can’t do anything. It is an opportunity and a possibility to learn differently. You have magical brains, they just process differently. Don’t feel like you should be held back by it.”Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice
Provide Professional Development Opportunities
Having dyslexia shouldn’t hinder an employee’s career progression. Offer training and professional development opportunities tailored to their needs, ensuring they have the same growth opportunities as everyone else.
Lastly, remember that every employee, whether they have dyslexia or not, brings a unique set of skills and perspectives to the table. Celebrate this diversity. Recognise and appreciate the strengths that an employee with dyslexia might bring, such as problem-solving skills, creativity, or a unique way of viewing challenges.
“Dyslexia is not due to lack of intelligence, it’s a lack of access. It’s like, if I told you to fetch a piece of music and it was written in a different language, but I told you to go ahead and play it anyway.” –Orlando Bloom
Supporting dyslexia at work is an ongoing process, one that requires understanding, patience, and adaptability. By implementing the strategies mentioned above, businesses can create an inclusive environment where every employee, regardless of their learning differences, can thrive and contribute meaningfully.
Remember, an inclusive workplace isn’t just about compliance; it’s about valuing every individual and recognising the strengths they bring to the table. By supporting dyslexia in the workplace, businesses not only uphold their moral and legal obligations but also benefit from a diverse and enriched workforce.
For a deeper dive into creating an inclusive environment for all types of neurodiversity, not just dyslexia, check out our comprehensive guide on Supporting Neurodiversity in the Workplace.