Supporting Someone with Dyslexia at Work

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Work can be challenging for people with dyslexia. Find out about how dyslexia can affect people at work, if there are any advantages or benefits of dyslexic employees, if they experience workplace bias or discrimination, how dyslexia bias and discrimination can be avoided, and how employers can better support their dyslexic staff.

How can dyslexia affect people at work?

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Employees with dyslexia have problems with reading, writing, and spelling. They may struggle to read text-dense e-mails or make the same spelling mistakes. Employees with dyslexia may also find it difficult to decode their company’s acronyms or abbreviations.

Besides trouble with reading, writing, and spelling, employees with dyslexia can also find it difficult to retain instructions, copy information accurately, and know the difference between left and right.

Some people with dyslexia might not know that it could be impacting all aspects of their professional lives.

Are there advantages or benefits to having someone with dyslexia in the workplace?

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Dyslexic employees can display the following advantages and benefits:

  • Innovative thinking. Employees with dyslexia can come up with new and imaginative ways to cope with the challenges they face at work by reframing them.
  • Problem-solving. Dyslexic employees can find creative solutions to solving problems due to their enhanced spatial awareness and visual processing.
  • Empathy. Since employees with dyslexia require additional support at work, they are often more understanding of other people and their unique needs and struggles.
  • Determination. Despite dyslexic employees struggling to read and write, they can overcome these challenges by being determined to learn how to read and write.
  • Reasoning. Abilities in employees with dyslexia such as seeing the bigger picture and understanding patterns give them excellent reasoning skills.

Do people with dyslexia experience workplace bias or discrimination?

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Unfortunately, people with dyslexia can experience unconscious bias or discrimination at work.

Dyslexia-related discrimination at work can either de direct or indirect.

An example of direct discrimination is when an employer makes assumptions about a dyslexic candidate’s abilities when they apply for an internal promotion and offers the position to an under-qualified colleague who has significantly less experience.

An example of indirect discrimination is when the employer announces an exciting internal opportunity in the afternoon and expects the employee to hand them a handwritten personal statement the following morning.

Employees with dyslexia can also experience harassment, such as the employer commenting on the extra time they take to read or process something, or victimisation. An example of this is when a Starbucks employee was being wrongly accused of falsifying documents when they recorded the incorrect fridge temperature.

How can employers ensure staff with dyslexia do not experience bias or discrimination?

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Employers can ensure dyslexic staff do not experience bias or discrimination by doing the following:

  • Providing audio or video versions of job advertisements in addition to written ones.
  • Keeping interview questions brief.
  • Providing assistive options, such as spell-checking software.
  • Providing practical training, such as hands-on training rather than written instructions.
  • Installing dyslexia-friendly fonts onto computers and setting them as default fonts in word processing software.
  • Assigning someone other than a dyslexic employee to take meeting minutes.
  • Encouraging breaks to relieve eye strain from computers.
  • Printing and writing information on coloured paper.
  • Allowing dyslexic employees to use visual aids, such as diagrams, drawings, and flow charts.

What support can be provided for people with dyslexia at work?

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Besides providing assistive options, employers can support their dyslexic employees by:

  • Giving clear and concise instructions and checking for understanding.
  • Creating a working environment with no distractions or giving access to quiet areas to allow concentration.
  • Giving the employee options to work from home.
  • Providing suitable technology, such as project management tools, online calendars and organisers, and digital recorders.
  • Building planning time into each day, which allows the employee to manage their time and feel in control of their workload.
  • Setting up a mentoring scheme.
  • Introducing training services, such as those from The Dyslexia Association.

Further information

If you have dyslexia, you can visit our website for more information on workplace needs assessments and support for employees with dyslexia. If you think you have traits of dyslexia, take our free am I dyslexic quiz to find out if you have neurodivergent traits.

Blog Author

April Slocombe