One in ten individuals in the UK is affected by dyslexia, which often runs in families and can be mild or severe. Dyslexia is a very specific learning difficulty which mainly affects the ability to learn, read and spell. It is important to be aware of the fact that dyslexia does not reflect upon an individual’s cognitive abilities and it is not related to intellectual capacity or performance in other areas.
Dyslexia is recognised as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, which means that employers have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that anyone diagnosed with dyslexia is not placed at a disadvantage in comparison to other employee’s. As 10 per cent of the population are affected by dyslexia in varying degrees, it is inevitable that this will include staff, colleagues and even customers in the workplace meaning that an awareness of dyslexia in the workplace is crucial to creating a supportive environment.
If an employee discloses that they are dyslexic, it should be recognised immediately, a diagnostic assessment is not crucial but may be recommended, as the impact of dyslexia in the workplace varies considerably. It may be reasonable under the Equality Act 2010, if you are a large employer to fund this assessment to show that you are assessing the individual’s needs, you can also gain support from access to work with regards to any funding required funding to make necessary adjustments.
One to one support and regular welfare checks with your employee are also recommended. During these meetings you can discuss what the employee feels they may need to support them in terms of adjustments. If the employee has had their diagnosis for a long period of time, it is likely that they will have already developed coping strategies, which can be implemented. They may also know immediately what adjustments they need personally which they could advise you to put into place.
The adjustments which can be put in place vary and if the employee is unsure then this is where a work place assessment may help. The adjustments could include, a diary to help organisation, coloured overlays to aid reading, coloured papers with accessible fonts, specialised computer software, memory aids, for example a dictaphone, providing training material in advance and in alternative formats and allowing extra time or adjusted targets.
With the right adjustments in place, the effects of dyslexia can be minimised and in most instances any barriers faced can be overcome with the right kind of help and support. Individuals with dyslexia often have strengths in reasoning, visual and creative fields, meaning that they can provide skills which make them extremely valuable employees.
David Price is managing director of Health Assured.