Dyslexia is often seen as a learning difference or challenge. However, many Dyslexic people possess unique strengths and abilities that greatly benefit the workforce. For example, many dyslexic people have strong critical thinking skills due to their heightened ability for spatial awareness. They can see the larger picture as more than the sum of its parts.
With an estimated 10% of the UK population being Dyslexic, it’s important to support this community and enable them to thrive. Every organisation can benefit from the unique perspective and value that all neurodiverse employees bring to the table. Below, we explore 5 ways to support people with Dyslexia in your workplace.
This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to offer support to employees with Dyslexia. Assistive technology such as speech-to-text software, speech recognition software, spelling and grammar checking software and dyslexia-friendly fonts makes it possible for Dyslexic colleagues to complete their work and communicate with others. These tools can also help reduce stress and significantly increase productivity by removing the barrier that comes with communicating and absorbing information in a neurotypical way. It’s always a good idea to check in with colleagues and ask whether the current systems and processes are working for them – often, it can be a case of troubleshooting what works best.
In 2023, flexible working is by no means a new idea, but it’s still worth listing because it’s an incredibly supportive way of working for neurodiverse employees. The physical and mental strain that reading and writing take on the body of a Dyslexic person can be extreme. This can slow down the process of effective working if neurotypical expectations and standards get in the way. Organisations can offer and encourage frequent screen breaks, remote working, flexible hours or even job sharing as a way to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the individual. This can greatly help colleagues manage their workload and wellbeing more effectively.
A Dyslexia-friendly workspace is one that is designed to integrate processes that may benefit Dyslexic people in their day-to-day way of doing things. This may involve providing bullet points at the end of long emails, recording meetings so they can be played back for better learning, using visual aids to help explain concepts or providing clear, concise instructions to get rid of any ambiguity. Whilst these efforts can seriously help Dyslexic people, many other members of your organisation will also reap the benefits.
Training and awareness-raising initiatives create a more supportive work environment for Dyslexic employees (and other neurodivergent employees). This also provides managers and colleagues with an awareness of how to offer support. Educating colleagues on what to say or how to help can ease the anxiety of doing the wrong thing by removing ignorance. Manager training can give managers the tools they need to be able to identify and offer support without being accidentally ableist. Information is the key to understanding and support, as well as normalising the fact that everyone receives, processes and performs differently.
Disclosure of a part of one’s identity can feel very exposing. This is especially true if one has experienced discrimination in the past. Encouraging open communication between employees and managers can help ensure that people with Dyslexia feel safe and supported to ask for the help they deserve. Having a member of senior leadership act as an ally or disclose their own status can be an incredible instrument to create change. On a more micro level, regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help identify what is working, what is not working and how to improve the experience through collaboration.
Employees with Dyslexia are a part of every workforce. They bring innovation and opportunities for perspective to every project they’re involved in. We know that it’s a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments. However, an inclusive and supportive workforce creates a positive culture that everyone can enjoy being a part of. Supporting the 10% benefits everyone.