How to support a dyslexic employee

    August 2, 2019

    Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disorders, according to a recent report by Dyslexia International. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, workers with dyslexia are entitled to reasonable accommodations to make up for their condition. However, it can be challenging for people who aren’t neurodiverse to gain a good understanding of this disability and how it can be accommodated in the workplace. Here are some fast facts about dyslexia, as well as some pointers on what you can do to support a dyslexic employee. 

    Fast facts about dyslexia

    • Approximately 10 percent of the global population suffer from dyslexia. 
    • Dyslexia is a neurological condition that doesn’t affect an individual’s intelligence.
    • People with dyslexia may have trouble interpreting letters and words, numbers, or both.
    • Many people with dyslexia learn or develop coping strategies so they can function in society.

    Things you can do to support a dyslexic employee

    Some people who have dyslexia have known about their condition since childhood, while others only learn about it as an adult. Nevertheless, both deserve the support from their manager and colleagues in order to function well in the workplace. Here’s what you can do:

    • Educate your team about dyslexia. Traditionally, people with dyslexia have been labeled stupid or lazy — but nothing could be further from the truth. That’s why it’s so important to provide up to date information about the condition so your team understand what their dyslexic colleague deals with on a daily basis and how they can help him or her. 

    • Adapt your team’s communication style. People with dyslexia find it easier to process spoken and image-based data. At the same time, some find it easier to read text in a large font and/or on a colored background, as the MindTools article “How to Manage a Person With Dyslexia” advises. Make sure your team is aware of this and ask them to keep this in mind when communicating with a dyslexic employee.

    • Provide a quiet workspace. A dyslexic person may struggle to concentrate in an open-plan or noisy office. Do your best to situate him or her somewhere where there’s little noise and few distractions. If this isn’t a possibility, consider the option of telecommuting or flexwork for super challenging projects.

    • Provide assistive technologies. More and more apps and devices are being developed to help dyslexic people, such as text-to-speech apps and word prediction software.

    • Allow more time for assignments. Yale provides information about the latest tools and technology that can make working life much easier for people with dyslexia. 

    The ROI of supporting a dyslexic employee

    Many high-achieving people are — or were — dyslexic, including Salma Hayek, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, John Lennon, and Pablo Picasso. And this clearly demonstrates that dyslexia doesn’t make someone lazy or stupid. So if you do your best to support your dyslexic employee, you’re likely to see an ROI in terms of reduced absenteeism, lower stress levels, and improved performance and productivity.



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