The Equality Act of 2010 defines dyslexia as a disability. As such, employers are required to make “reasonable adjustments” to help people with dyslexia overcome any limitations brought on by the condition.
The British Dyslexia Association reports that 10% of the population are believed to be dyslexic, which makes it one of the most common disabilities found in the workplace.
Employers, who might not be aware of the symptoms, far too frequently fail to recognise it or have a poor understanding of it. It doesn’t help that many adult dyslexics frequently learn to hide or disguise the issue at work, instead of asking for support from their employers for fear of discrimination.
We believe that everybody deserves to Thriive in the workplace, which is why this guide aims to help employers understand more about neurodivergent people and dyslexia in the workplace, why an employer should hire an individual with dyslexia, as well as the key reasonable adjustments for dyslexia that can have a huge positive impact on dyslexic employees at work.
What is dyslexia?
Due to difficulties recognising speech sounds and understanding how they relate to letters and words, people with dyslexia have trouble reading (decoding). Dyslexia, sometimes known as a reading disability, is caused by individual variations in the parts of the brain that handle language.
It is better viewed as a continuum rather than a single category, and there are no obvious limits. Language, motor coordination, mental calculation, concentration, and personal organisation co-occurring issues may be observed, however these are not by themselves signs of dyslexia.
Despite the fact that dyslexia has no known cure, the best results come from early diagnosis and treatment. It’s possible for dyslexia to go undetected for years or to only become apparent in adults, but it’s never too late to get support.
How does dyslexia impact people at work?
People who are dyslexic have various ways of processing language, especially written language. They can still read and write, despite this, however, this will be quite challenging for certain people. Some people may take longer to digest written material, but they may not have any real problems with reading or writing.
Since stress at work and dyslexia might be strongly related, it’s crucial to stay in touch with your coworkers and ask how you can support them.
The world in which we live has a habit of being ableist; it is based on the beliefs, methods of operation, and customs that are centred on the perspective of the neurotypical/non-disabled individual on the world.
While this is changing for the better, it’s crucial to keep an eye out for disability discrimination in relation to dyslexia and work to end it. It is the employers duty to make reasonable accommodations for dyslexic workers to prevent this prejudice within the workplace.
Why should we champion people with dyslexia?
There are difficulties associated with being dyslexic in a neurotypical society. Dyslexic people have spent their entire lifetimes coming up with novel and creative solutions to deal with and get past these obstacles by rethinking them and using unconventional thinking. Due to their ability to generate ideas that others might not have thought of, this functions as an additional strength that frequently sets them apart from their peers in their line of work.
Employers now view dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions as assets rather than limitations in the workplace. A report by E&Y, The Value of Dyslexia – Dyslexia and the future organisation, has found that “there is enormous untapped potential available from dyslexic individuals working within cognitively diverse teams that are necessary for successful organisations of the future.”
The study says that dyslexic thinking possesses specific advantages and skills that businesses seek, including leadership and social influence as well as creativity, originality, and initiative.
Additionally, dyslexics excel at complicated problem-solving, innovative and analytical thinking, reasoning, technology design, and critical thinking.
Examples of reasonable adjustments for Dyslexia
- Modifying computer screen settings to display a background colour rather than a white one. Materials printed on coloured paper are most likely to be helpful to users who have dyslexia, other particular learning disabilities, or visual impairments.
- Offer text-to-speech or other helpful assistive technology. If someone with dyslexia has trouble identifying or understanding text on a computer screen, text-to-speech software can be a huge help. Dyslexic individuals benefit from hearing text read aloud in a voice that sounds natural and from having someone else proofread their own written work.
- Software that converts speech to text (eg. Dragon). This is perfect for people with dyslexia who might have spelling challenges or who communicate better orally, as well as for people with physical limitations who can’t use a keyboard or mouse.
- Offer a Smartpen which can translate handwriting to digital copies, this can be useful for note taking and to record important instructions.
- Mind-mapping software – If someone with dyslexia finds it difficult to organise their thoughts and ideas, mind mapping tools may be helpful. Additionally, it is useful software for those who favour visual to linear lists when working.
With the aid of mind mapping software, people with dyslexia can become more confident and independent while also reducing the need for assistance.
- Give each instruction separately as multiple instructions can become overwhelming.
- Make sure there is a quiet location available for employees and allow frequent breaks to relieve stress and mental fatigue.
- Encourage the worker to make notes and then review them before allowing them to continue.
- Think of alternate information-sharing channels, this could be as simple as verbal communication rather than written instructions or communicating instructions slowly.
- Instead of email, use voicemail.
Some dyslexic people find that their minds race, making it difficult for them to verbally keep up with the speed of their thoughts or find the right words to articulate themselves. However, they frequently already know the response and just need some time to recall it.
Education & training
- Being dyslexic-friendly means you should also be aware that not everyone feels comfortable admitting their condition at work. The more you can understand this, the more it will reflect how much you appreciate dyslexics and will promote transparency.
- Discuss with coworkers the value of neurodiversity and how all brains are unique.
- Provide Neurodiversity Training to educate your staff further on neurodiversity.
- Don’t generalise about how each person is affected by their dyslexia; instead, provide support on an individual basis.
- Increase awareness by providing Disability Awareness Training to dispel stereotypes.
Training on neurodiversity is very helpful because it informs management and staff about neurodiversity at work and how to foster a more accepting, open workplace where everyone can succeed.
Additionally, these programs educate management and HR recruiters in hiring neurodiverse people strategically.
- Provide flexible working arrangements where possible.
- Change deadlines to give extra time for completion/earlier document release.
- When engaging with an employee’s assignment, give them enough time to take notes or highlight key points.
- Adopt a “do not disturb” rule during specific hours of the day or provide a private workspace.
- Give them a wall planner or other time management tool so they can manage their time well.
It can be difficult for dyslexics to successfully manage their time and stay organised. However, they may also possess superior levels of insight, ingenuity, and problem-solving abilities.
By modifying your communication methods and supplying the necessary tools, you can foster a welcoming and accepting work atmosphere for a team member who struggles with reading and writing. Find out from them what works best.
Looking for Assistive Technology or Disability Awareness Training?
Thriiver is dedicated to improving the accessibility of their workplaces for employees with impairments. We are specialists in providing a wide range of assistive technology solutions that may be tailored to meet the particular needs of any organisation.
We can help you support your disabled staff and create a productive work environment. Our offerings include anything from assessments of workplace needs to training on workplace mental health issues and assistive technologies.
If you’re looking for assistive technology for your workplace, we can help. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our services, or simply shop now.
Reasonable adjustments for Dyslexia FAQs
What are employee rights with dyslexia?
Someone who is dyslexic has the right to be supported by their employer. As a result, their employer will be required to offer reasonable accommodations to help them accomplish their obligations at work. A claim of discrimination can be made if this is not done.
How can dyslexia affect you at work?
Having trouble prioritising activities, managing time, and maintaining personal organisation. Avoiding a particular kind of study or work. Finding certain activities to be incredibly simple while others to be surprisingly difficult. Having low self-esteem, particularly if dyslexia was not previously diagnosed in early life.
What are reasonable adjustments for a dyslexic employee?
Making reasonable adjustments could include things like verbal instructions instead of written, offering a quiet working environment and providing assistive technology. Many adjustments in the workplace are really simple to implement such as installing an anti glare screen filter on a computer or assigning important tasks in order of priority.