(4 min read)
Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects the way affected individuals process information, particularly in relation to reading, writing and spelling, but also numeracy. The British Dyslexia Association estimates that up to10% of the UK population has dyslexia. It's essential, therefore, that employers are aware of the challenges faced by workers with dyslexia and take appropriate steps to support them.
This article aims to explore some ways in which employers can create an inclusive and supportive work environment for workers with dyslexia, while also ensuring compliance with relevant employment legislation.
Dyslexia as a disability:
Where dyslexia has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on an individual's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, it will be deemed to be a disability under the Equality Act. As a result, workers with dyslexia may have protection from being discriminated against in the workplace.
The Equality Act also imposes positive duties on employers to make reasonable adjustments to working practices, to alleviate some of the disadvantages faced by disabled workers, and that positive duty may apply equally to workers with dyslexia. It is critically important that employers understand the effects of dyslexia and its impact on a worker in order to ensure compliance with these duties.
Reasonable adjustments in this context will vary greatly depending on individual needs, but might typically include:
- Assistive technology: Providing workers with access to assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software or speech recognition tools, can significantly improve their ability to read, write, and communicate.
- Accessible materials: Making sure that all written materials, such as emails, documents, and presentations, are accessible to workers with dyslexia is essential. This may involve taking some very simple steps, such as using clear fonts, avoiding excessive use of jargon and providing alternative formats, such as audio or visual aids.
Creating an inclusive workplace:
In addition to the legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments, as a matter of good practice employers should take pro-active steps to build an inclusive culture within their organisation. Doing so will help ensure dyslexic (and other neurodiverse) workers can maximise their potential and feel fully supported in their roles.
There are many ways in which employers can increase inclusion within their organisations, but some examples include:
- Flexible working arrangements: Offering flexible working hours or remote working options can help workers with dyslexia manage their workload more effectively and reduce stress levels.
- Supportive supervision: Managers should be trained to provide appropriate support and guidance to workers with dyslexia. This may involve offering additional time for tasks, providing written instructions in a clear and concise manner and offering regular feedback and encouragement.
- Training and awareness: Employers should implement a regular programme of equality and diversity training, which would include raising awareness among staff about dyslexia. This can help create a more understanding and supportive work environment, reducing the potential for discrimination or misunderstanding. Linked to that is the need to implement and apply clear and consistent equal opportunity policies.
- Recruitment process: It is important to continually review and update recruitment processes to ensure they are fair and accessible to individuals with dyslexia. This may involve offering alternative methods for completing application forms or adjusting interview processes.
- Monitoring and enforcement: It is essential to monitor and address any instances of discrimination or harassment promptly and effectively.
Supporting workers with dyslexia is an important part of any effective diversity, equality and inclusion strategy. An effective DE&I strategy will help ensure employers can access and retain the strongest workers from a wide and diverse talent pool.
By creating an inclusive work environment, and implementing reasonable adjustments where appropriate, employers can also ensure that workers with dyslexia are able to thrive and maximise their contribution to the workplace.
Furthermore, compliance with employment legislation is crucial to mitigate the risk of discrimination claims and ensure equal opportunities for all workers, regardless of their dyslexia or any other disability.