Adult Dyslexia Support in the Workplace
Dyslexia brings with it challenges and opportunities, not least in the workplace. Yet adults with dyslexia can thrive at work with the right support. Discover how dyslexia help for adults can create a diverse, inclusive, and supportive organization that benefits employees and employers alike.
Living and Working with Dyslexia
Between 15%-20% of the US population, according to the Dyslexia Center of Utah, has a language-based learning disability. Of these disabilities, dyslexia is the most common. And around 15% of people in the UK have dyslexia or another specific learning difference.
So, in any organization, it is highly likely there will be dyslexic workers.
Dyslexia is a neurological difference. Every adult and child with dyslexia is unique but there are common traits. This language-based learning disability affects how a person can read and write.
Further to this, it impacts information processing. Dyslexic people may experience challenges with remembering information, sequencing, orientation, and time management, according to the British Dyslexia Association. As a knock-on effect, people living with dyslexia often experience low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.
All this can result in challenges in day-to-day life, and particularly at work.
Yet dyslexia is not all about disability and limitations. There are many positives in thinking differently. Dyslexic people can bring outstanding skills and insight to the business through their problem-solving abilities, visual and big-picture thinking, intuition, and creativity.
One of the keys to unlocking this potential is to properly support employees at work.
But how does a business embed this kind of support for dyslexic employees?
In the UK, under The Equality Act 2010, all employers have the legal duty to put reasonable adjustments in place that lessen the impact of a disability on an employee’s ability to do their job.
As well as meeting these legal obligations, dyslexia support in the workplace helps improve the organization and allows individuals to succeed. Creating a dyslexia-friendly workplace also helps to promote a positive, inclusive ethos that allows all people to feel valued and effective.
Change does not need to be disruptive, extensive, or expensive. Efficient and intelligent adjustments can make a big difference to employees and to the health of the organization.
Types of Dyslexia Support
Raising staff awareness of dyslexia and different ways of working is important. The introduction of a clear and supportive strategy for managing dyslexia challenges is also useful. And paying attention to communication methods and styles helps minimize misunderstandings and stress.
Examples of strategic changes include making company-wide information available in audio formats or printing notices in larger fonts or on colored paper. Individuals could access training through their workplace to learn and implement time-management and organizational skills, and businesses may also work directly with specialist tutors to provide one-on-one support where needed.
Assistive technology can make a dramatic difference to productivity and potential, and help overcome issues that have the potential to create tension and inefficiency, such as slow notetaking or problems reading text on screen.
Assistive Technology and Dyslexia Tools
Innovative tools and technology for people with dyslexia can make the difference between struggle and success at work.
Here are some examples of how specialist tools and technology can meet the needs of people with dyslexia at work:
- Screens: Employees may make mistakes when copying information between documents. Many people work better with two monitors so they can see both documents at the same time.
- Noise levels: Headphones can help people who find it hard to stay focused on work when there is a lot of background noise, for example in an open-plan office.
- Text-to-speech software: Use this specialist software if an employee understands verbal direction and spoken information but struggles with written material. Technology reads text from the computer out loud so employees can focus on meaning rather than reading.
- Speech-to-text software: Conversely, employees can talk to their computer and have software convert their speech to text. This helps produce reports, emails, and notes more efficiently than typing.
- Meetings: Use recording technology to record a meeting and the team member can then use notetaking software to write up the minutes afterwards. This is useful when an employee finds it difficult to take notes as the meeting is in progress.
- Spelling and grammar: Readily available web-based software verifies spelling and grammar automatically and is more comprehensive than spell-checks.
- Planning and organization: Try mind-mapping software for effective planning, prioritizing, and creating.
- Optical character recognition: Discover assistive technology for people with dyslexia that scans printed material to your PC or handheld device. These devices also read text out loud.
Seamlessly Blending the Analogue and the Digital
This last tool plugs an important gap in the workplace for adults with learning disabilities. We are increasingly navigating the world digitally, but we still need to access printed text on a daily basis.
Devices that scan text to a computer, also called pen scanners, blend analogue and digital for efficient working. The ReaderPen Secure from C-PEN, for example, is designed to take the stress and difficulty out of jobs with a large amount of paperwork.
Move the pen over the text to scan written information into the computer. Workers with dyslexia can then skip notetaking and manual input altogether, thus minimizing errors and speeding up the process. The reading pen also speaks the text out loud and gives word definitions for quick understanding.
The pen is compact and portable and connects to headphones, which allows for discreet use of the device in meetings or busy offices. The device is also multilingual, to support the diverse languages in the workplace.
Thriving in the Workplace with Dyslexia
Being dyslexia-friendly is good for business and good for employees. Understanding dyslexia and the challenges and opportunities it brings to the workplace helps employees to shine. A neuro-positive working environment also supports dyslexic clients, and customers with learning disabilities.
Making effective changes in the workplace relies on communication and collaborative working between employers and employees. A discussion about specific needs and opportunities is a great first step to making improvements.
As Margaret Malpas from the British Dyslexia Association says: “The best way to foster the talent in people with dyslexia is to identify it early and provide tailored support. With the right support, the dyslexic mind has amazing potential.”