It is estimated that ten per cent of the population have
Therefore, it is more than likely that you will have dyslexic
employees within your organisation. Also, a number of them may not
know it as they have not been identified.
Dyslexic adults may find it hard to find a job because of their
dyslexia difficulties and may not even tell the employer of their
difficulties, because of their bad experience at school or in other
They often have low self-esteem and lack confidence, especially
if their difficulties were not recognised before and they were
deemed laze or stupid.
Dyslexia is not just a difficulty with reading, it is more than
that. Since the severity of dyslexia varies, so do the strategies
that help dyslexic people overcome their problems in
That is why it is important to treat each dyslexic person as an
individual, what works for one may not necessary work for another.
They may have difficulty with reading, spelling, writing,
short-term memory, time keeping and organisational skills.
Nevertheless, dyslexic people also have real strengths including
problem solving skills, practical tasks and enhanced
They can be strong in the areas of design, art, music,
architecture and engineering. Also, many of the difficulties can be
overcome with the right support. Here are a few suggestions on how
you can support a dyslexic person in the workplace, which can also
be beneficial for all employees.
Employers: Helpful Hints:
General difficulty with reading:
- Give verbal and written instructions making it brief and
- Making sure that these instructions are understood by asking
the dyslexic employee to repeat it.
- Highlight the most important points in documents.
- Use voice mail as opposed to written memos; however both ways
may be more helpful for some dyslexics.
- Use speech to text software, for example, "Dragon Naturally
- Supply/use a reading machine - or allocate someone else to read
- Provide information on coloured paper, (find out which colour
helps the person to read best).
- Set up a computer screen with a coloured background to
documents, (find out which colour helps the person to read
- Make all company reference documents available in a plain,
sans-serif font such as Arial, in point size 12 at least some times
it need to be larger and on coloured paper.
- Wherever possible, also offer these alternative formats via an
intranet that your staff can access easily.
- Ensure all notes, handouts etc are circulated electronically
two to three days prior to meetings, which gives dyslexic employees
the chance to read them though.
Difficulty with reading and writing:
- Be supportive, show understanding and give encouragement when
- Allow plenty of time to read and complete the task.
- Examine other ways of giving information to avoid reading it,
for example, record it or have someone to read it.
- Discuss the material with the employee, giving summaries and/or
- Utilise information prepared in other formats, for example
audio or videotape, drawings, diagrams and flowcharts.
- Use tape recorders.
- Use speech to text software.
Spelling and grammar errors:
- Proof read work or have someone to be a "buddy" to do it.
- Instant spell checker on all computers are practical, but
software like "Claro Read" and "Text Help" are more dyslexia
- Franklin handheld spell checkers are also useful.
Difficulty remembering and following verbal
- Give instructions one at a time and/or write them down.
- Communicate instructions slowly and clearly in a quiet location
making sure it is understood.
- Write down important information making sure it can be
- Demonstrate and supervise tasks and projects, (may have to do
it more than once).
- Encourage the person to take notes and then check them.
- Ask instructions to be repeated back, to confirm that the
instruction has been understood correctly.
- Write a memo outlining a plan of action.
- Use a tape recorder or dictaphone to record important
- Back up multiple instructions in writing or with diagrams.
Difficulty with hidden meanings in
- Give clear concise and direct instructions; do not hint or make
assumptions that you have been understood.
Time and Work Planning
- Make sure the workplace is quiet and away from distractions,
for example away from doors, busy phones, loud machinery.
- Allocate a private workspace if possible.
- Where feasible allow an employee to work from home
- Provide a quiet working environment for a dyslexic employee by
allocating libraries, file rooms, private offices and other
enclosed areas when others are not using them.
Coping with interruptions:
- Use a "do not disturb" sign when specific tasks require intense
- Encourage co-workers not to disturb the person unless
- When interrupting, allow the person to pause and write down
what they are doing to refer to when resuming work.
- Employees can use headphones to block out distractions.
- Ensure that each task is completed before starting
- Encourage outgoing rather than incoming calls. Offer training
in how to use the telephone effectively, for example jotting down
key points before making the call.
Remembering appointments and deadlines:
- Remind the person of important deadlines and review priorities
- Hang a wall planner that visually highlights daily/monthly
appointments, deadlines, tasks, and projects.
- Supply an alarm watch.
- Encourage the employee to use the daily calendar and alarm
features on their computer and/or mobile phone.
Organisation of property:
- Ensure that work areas are organised, neat and tidy.
- Keep items where they can be clearly seen, for example shelves
and bulletin boards.
- Ensure the team returns important items to the same place each
- Colour code items.
- Ensure work areas are well lit.
- Supply and use a wall planner.
- Prioritise important tasks.
- Create a daily, dated "To Do" list.
- Use diaries, calendars, computers and mobile phone.
- Write a layout for regular tasks with appropriate prompts, for
example for meetings or taking notes.
- Allow extra time.
- Build planning time into each day.
- Encourage the person to say the numbers out loud, write them
down or press the calculator keys and check the figures have been
- Supply a talking calculator.
- Always try to use the same route.
- Show the route and visible landmarks.
- Give time to practice going from one place to another.
- Supply detailed maps.
Short term memory problems especially names, numbers and
- Use mnemonic devices and acronyms.
- Organise details on paper so that they can be referred to
easily using diagrams and flowcharts.
- Check back understanding.
- Use multi-sensory learning techniques such as reading material
onto a tape machine and then playing it back whilst
- Use computer software; sometimes well developed programme menus
and help features are useful.
- Use a calculator.
You may also like to consider:
- Provide all employees with dyslexia awareness training.
- Be aware that some dyslexic employees may appear very
confident, but in fact they may be covering up the stress they may
- Do not regard dyslexic people as a 'problem'
- Concentrate on their strengths and do not force them to do
things against their will.
- Try to tailor the job to suit the person.
Copyright & Source: www.bda-dyslexia.org.uk
The Jersey Dyslexia Association does not
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