As nearly three million UK workers are living with dyslexia, a list has been released that tells how employers can help support staff that suffers from the common learning difficulty.
This list was compiled by the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA), the charity supporting the wellbeing of chartered accountants and their families, in response to the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) findings which stated 10 per cent of the population is affected by dyslexia or 2.9 million workers.
- Set up a mentoring scheme – This ensures that the workforce feels more comfortable talking about learning difficulties, with the hope being to subtly encourage those that are struggling to come forward and ask for help. A can offer a range of tailored advice and support for anyone who may be suffering from anxiety, mental health or any other form of learning difficulty in the workplace, not just dyslexia.
- Diagnostic Assessment – To be able to best support your team members, diagnostic assessments would be truly valuable in understanding their specific needs.
- Create dyslexia friendly content – If you recognise that an employee has dyslexia, small changes can be made to help employees navigate through work content. This may mean using an easily readable font such as Arial or Comic Sans, as small or italic fonts can cause letters to appear more crowded. It may also be useful to use headings to create structure and to avoid background patterns or pictures as they could distract from the text.
- Adapt your communication style – It’s worthwhile asking any dyslexic employees what their preferred method of communication is. This is because if the individual is a visual learner you could work using a mind map or flow chart, to best get across important points.
- Training services – The BDA offers a range of training services to ensure that both employer and employee mutually benefit.
- Assistive technology – There is technology specifically designed to make life easier for those with dyslexia, like speech recognition software which allows speech to be converted in to text or vice versa.
- Raise awareness – Run a dyslexia awareness course for all staff, using a qualified and experienced dyslexia specialist who has experience training in the work environment.
- Alternative workspace – Loud and busy environments can make it hard for dyslexic workers to concentrate, so to help them, it can be beneficial to offer alternative work environments. For example, allowing these employees to use a meeting room, to help them focus when they really need to.
- Encourage the use of calendars and alarms – Dyslexics can benefit from seeing things more visually, so using calendars and alarms can help to track time in a more visual way. In turn, this will help employees stay on schedule, and help them to plan their day and week.
- Special stationery – Black text on white paper can be problematic as the whiteness can be dazzling and make it harder to read. Using paper of softer tones like yellow or pink may be preferable.
Understandably, revealing a learning difficulty can be a daunting prospect in the workplace and this anxiety can hold back those with dyslexia from asking for help. This means that their behaviours can occasionally be misunderstood as a lack of ability, dedication and inattention. However, those with dyslexia can bring as many strengths and qualities to a business, as non-sufferers do, which means it’s incredibly important to encourage people to speak up about it.