Creating a dyslexia friendly workplace
Dyslexia friendly training
Not all dyslexic people will feel comfortable disclosing their difficulties in the workplace, some may not have had a formal diagnosis and, therefore, may be unaware that the challenges they face are due to dyslexia.
Any changes that are put in place to support dyslexic employees will also benefit other staff members. By being aware of different learning preferences and flexible in your approach, your organisation can be much more successful in training situations. Some simple changes can make all the difference.
Introducing a sensitive and thoughtful approach to how you deliver training within your organisation will benefit all your employees.
If you know a participant is dyslexic then discuss the format of the training with them and ask what changes they would find helpful. It could be as simple as providing a hard copy printout of a Powerpoint presentation.
Dyslexia friendly teaching
- Dyslexic people tend to be big picture thinkers, but may be less adept at processing and remembering detail. Give an overview of the training programme first and also at the start of any new section of the training.
- Many people - including dyslexic individuals - prefer practical, hands-on teaching methods and learn more efficiently if they are using all sensory pathways. Sitting for long periods just listening is often not an effective way of delivering information! Weighting should be towards the visual and hands-on rather than the auditory mode.
- For IT training, one-to-one support may be more suitable, to enable the individual learner to set their own pace. To aid memory, a checklist of key training points should be introduced during ‘hands-on’ training for quick referral after the training.
- Teach one thing at a time in bite-size chunks.
- Be prepared to demonstrate and give examples. Explanations may need to be expressed in more than one way if someone appears to have trouble grasping the point.
- Allow time for over-learning – practice, practice, practice.
- Be prepared to work to the learner’s learning and working style: it might be different from yours.
- Make your training as multi-sensory as possible and be creative. If a learner can’t retain a point, use humour, put it into a funny or ridiculous story, or get them to associate a smell or taste with the task you want them to learn. You can do this by asking them what their favourite smell or taste is and get them to close their eyes and imagine doing the task whilst smelling or tasting their favourite thing: this really works!
- Try giving learners something to hold in their hands and fiddle with whilst listening to instruction: this will improve their listening skills.
- Get learners to visualise doing the task or demonstrate it; then get them to say what they are doing whilst doing it. This gives the memory more to latch on to, to embed learning.
- Create breaks during the learning process to help with concentration levels.
- Give a summary at the end of each learning point and an overview of the next session following the break. Check understanding of key points.
- Avoid using acronyms, metaphors, complex language or phrases open to misinterpretation.
- Watch out for slower processing speeds, difficulties with verbal fluency and word recall. Be patient. Give the learner time to respond and don't draw attention to it or make a joke of it.
- If something is to be read out aloud, ask for volunteers. Never pick someone at random; they may be dyslexic and be mortified by their lack of fluency in reading aloud. Similar allowances should be made for writing things on flip charts, recording information for teamwork activities or making presentations.
- Ask learners what teaching or delivery methods work best for them. Encourage an open culture where ideas can be shared.
- Consider colour-coding materials relating to different sections/aspects of the training.
- Make sure all training materials and presentations are created in a dyslexia friendly way (see the BDA Dyslexia-friendly style guide).
- Give notes and handouts in advance to allow the learner to time to read and digest information; make these available in digital format if requested.
- Consider the use of assistive technology if appropriate, such as a voice recorders or mind-mapping software.
- Make sure that the learner uses the same note book for all the notes they take down themselves. Encourage them to use Post-it tabs to index learning points, making them easy to find at a later date.
Find out more about the services we provide to help employers to be as dyslexia-friendly as possible on our Services for employers webpage.