How Can Employers Support Staff with This Invisible Disability?
Dyslexia in the workplace is more common than most people realise. Around 2 million people in the UK alone are affected by dyslexia or a similar condition. This includes dyspraxia, dyscalculia, hearing problems and visual impairment. It can affect people of all ages.
But what exactly is dyslexia? This is a general term used to describe a disorder in which people find it difficult to read, write and interpret words, letters and other written symbols. This does not affect intelligence or any other competency, but it can be quite debilitating for the sufferer.
How to Tell if Someone Has Dyslexia
Generally speaking, it is not an employer’s duty to recognise if someone has dyslexia or any other visual/hearing impairment. The disorder is not usually something people develop over time. Reading and writing difficulties are disorders you are born with or develop as a young child. As an employer, you should have prior knowledge of all your staff member’s medical conditions before hiring them. Many job application forms now request candidates to disclose any disorders or conditions up-front before starting a new role.
Therefore, as an employee, it is your duty to inform your employer of your disorder. Otherwise, dyslexia in the workplace remains a silent disability. It’s not always easy to spot or recognise in other individuals, especially if they work independently.
There are a number of signs.
- Difficulty talking and hearing
- Difficulty reading
- Misunderstanding clear information
- Frequent spelling errors
- Poor handwriting
- Coping mechanisms (avoidance and procrastination)
- Confusion between opposites (over and under etc.)
How Can You Help?
Do you currently have a support strategy in place that will enable you to make adjustments for those suffering with dyslexia in the workplace? Due to the common nature of this disorder, it makes sense to obtain a solid understanding of how dyslexia works and to have a plan in place to support staff members with these impairments. A display screen assessment will enable you to determine just what level of support a potential dyslexic employee might need.
The assessment process is quick and relatively simple; the result of which will drastically improve your working environment for those with visual and hearing impairments. It is important to assess reading ability, mobility, dexterity and the ability to understand semantics. It is vital that you hire a professional display screen assessor in this process to ensure the clearest and most helpful results.
Assistive Technology and Mobile Applications
There are various modifications you can make and a number of assistive technologies you can introduce into the workplace that will help with this issue. From simple screen reader software to voice controlled text technology; several innovations now exist that make the working lives of dyslexic individuals much easier and much more enjoyable.
The world of mobile applications plays it part too. More and more individuals with specific impairments are relying on innovative new mobile apps to cope with and overcome their disorders. App developers now offer a wide range of specially designed products, from voice recognition software to screen readers such as Siri.
Utilising this technology and embracing innovation will ensure employers are as supportive as they can be and employees are allowed to reach their full potential.