Dyslexia in the Workplace

24th April 2020

With it being estimated that almost 10% of the population is believed to be dyslexic, it is likely that at least one person in your workplace is going to have dyslexia. However, dyslexia is very often misunderstood. We offer occupational health and wellbeing solutions to our clients, so that you as an employer are able to support the people in your workplace who are living with conditions such as dyslexia. In this blog, we’re going to explore what dyslexia is, how it can be diagnosed and how employers are able to support staff at work who are affected by dyslexia.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is the neurological difference that often has an effect on a person’s reading and writing skills. Therefore, it can have quite an impact on a person’s work, their education and generally their everyday life. Like anything, the symptoms can vary from mild to severe and everyone’s experiences are different. Normally, it runs within the family and will affect a person for the rest of their life. However, many dyslexics will struggle with reading and writing but usually are very talented in reasoning, visual arts and creativity.

How do you diagnose dyslexia?

In order to diagnose dyslexia, you have to take a diagnostic assessment which is carried out by a certified assessor. However, if you are unsure whether you’re living with dyslexia, you’re able to go to the British Dyslexia Association Website which provides a great advice section with information for adults, children and employers.

What happens in a diagnostic assessment?

The assessment is carried by a specialist assessor, and will normally take somewhere around 3 hours in a private room, most often in the workplace or the assessor’s office. After a brief introduction and chat, the assessor carries out some tests such as:

  • Reading, writing and spelling,
  • Handwriting,
  • The ability to think about thinking,
  • Speed of processing and memory,
  • Speech and language; and
  • Auditory processing (understanding the sounds that you hear).

All of these tests will be completed and scored, the results will be analysed and a diagnosis will be given in the form of a written report.

Dealing with dyslexia in the workplace

While a person will always live with dyslexia, there are a number of things that you can do as an employer in order to make their life easier and reduce the impact that it has at work.

Difficulties with reading and writing

  • Giving verbal as well as written instructions
  • Use voicemail instead of written memos
  • Allow sufficient time to read and finish tasks
  • Present information in alternative formats to text – such as images, videos and/or drawings
  • Installing a spell checker on the computer

Difficulties with verbal communication

  • When giving instructions, give them one at a time, slowly and clearly
  • Write down important information or encourage the employee to take notes
  • Record all presentations and meetings

Difficulties with computer work

  • Change the background colour of your screen
  • Supply anti-glare filters
  • Allow frequent breaks, at least every hour

Difficulties with concentrating

  • Make sure they have somewhere to work away from distractions
  • Allow them to work from home occasionally, if possible
  • Using “do not disturb” signs if the task requires immense focus

Difficulties with organising work

  • Encourage employees to create “to do’ lists
  • Using diaries

How to support your staff

It is very likely that someone who is living with dyslexia is going to become stressed by changes including a new job, way of working or a new manager. So it is important that in these times of change that you are supportive of what they are going through and their struggles. If you support your staff at work who are living with dyslexia it is found that their difficulties are likely to be less pronounced and better performance at work is maintained.

If you would like to find out more about how our occupational health services are able to support employees with dyslexia don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.

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