How can I support my dyslexic employees?
Reasonable adjustments in the workplace
Reasonable adjustments are the steps taken to help an individual gain the most of their strengths and minimise the challenges that they might experience as a result of their dyslexia. These adjustments will vary according to the needs of the employee and the job role. An employee does not need to have had an diagnostic assessment in order to receive reasonable adjustments.
It is advised that specialist advice, such as a Workplace Needs Assessment, is taken to determine the most appropriate adjustments for a particular individual.
When making reasonable adjustments, you should determine:
- The nature of the individual's dyslexia; this could be obtained from a diagnostic assessment.
- The requirements of the job and its related requirements which should be obtained through a Workplace Needs Assessment.
- The working environment and working practices, and any impact on performance.
- The requirements of any associated training and assessment.
This process will help to identify job and training requirements that are likely to be the most successful in mitigating any areas of difficulty. Implementing reasonable adjustments will not be an overnight remedy. Depending on the nature of the dyslexia and the job specification, it may take a few months before it's appropriate to review the impact that the adjustments have made.
It's important to be aware that people with dyslexia will not all have the same areas of strength and weakness. Many adjustments are just an adaptation of a way of working and may also help staff members who are not dyslexic.
- Give verbal as well as written instructions (this also applies to using voicemail rather than, or as well as, written memos)
- Consider assistive technology such as a screen-reader, scanning pen, text to speech or mind-mapping software
- Provide all hard copy resources on coloured paper (find out which colour helps the person to read best)
- Highlight key points in documents
- Allow plenty of time to read and complete the task
- Use different formats to convey information e.g. audio or videotape, drawings, diagrams and flowcharts
- Use a digital recorder to record meetings, training etc so the employee doesn't have to rely on memory or written notes
- Don't ask your dyslexic employee to minute a meeting
- Change background colour of screen to suit individual preference
- Supply anti-glare screen filter
- Allow frequent breaks, at least every hour
- Alternate computer work with other tasks, where possible
- Communicate instructions slowly and clearly and minimise distractions, and check understanding
- Support important communications by supplying the information in more than one format e.g. verbally and using hard copy resources
- Encourage note-taking
- Offer the use of a digital recorder to record important instructions
- Back up multiple instructions in writing or with diagrams
- Reduce distractions for focused tasks (sit away from doors, noisy machinery etc)
- Allocate a private workspace if possible
- Where feasible allow an employee to work from home occasionally
- 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
- Calendars, planners and alerts are standard on most computers and phones. Some people also find physical calendars and wall planners useful
- Use mnemonic devices and acronyms
- Supply a talking calculator if there are numerical difficulties
- Ensure that work areas are organised, neat and tidy
- Ensure the team returns important items to the same place each time
- Ensure work areas are well lit
- Always try to use the same route
- Show the route and visible landmarks
- Give time to practise going from one place to another
- Supply detailed maps
- Supply GPS car navigation system