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Sharon Goldie

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Supporting dyslexic employees in the workplace pt2

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Sharon Goldie, consultant at iansyst Ltd, looks at how to recognise the signs of dyslexia and offers simple strategies on how organisations can tailor their training plans to ensure they create a dyslexia-friendly workplace.

Communications policies

Many dyslexics have a specific difficulty taking in information that is written down so managers should be trained to look for alternative ways of communicating the same information. Giving instructions both verbally and in written format would be beneficial for a person with dyslexia. Other solutions for overcoming misunderstanding directions include providing them on coloured paper or setting up a computer screen with coloured backgrounds. Different colours have shown to help a person with dyslexia read and there are short and simple tests to determine the exact colour which works best to alleviate some of their difficulties.
 
"Giving instructions both verbally and in written format would be beneficial for a person with dyslexia."
People with dyslexia may often experience difficulty remembering and following verbal instructions. Ideally, any instructions should be given clearly and concisely and if detailed, check that the person understands. This should then be followed up by an email which reinforces the given instructions. The manager also needs to make sure that any instructions that have been given, especially those presented in a group environment, did not require any assumptions on the part of the employee.

Office environment

A number of dyslexics struggle to concentrate in open-plan offices due to the noise and variety of distractions. Therefore, organisations should ensure that they are able to allocate a workplace away from doors, phones and loud machinery and, preferably a quiet room for themselves or a bookable room for times when they need to concentrate on a specific task without any disruptions. Furthermore, by allowing the employee to work from home occasionally they will be able to concentrate on their work in a familiar and stress-free environment.
Where possible, other members of staff should be encouraged not to interrupt the employee unless necessary, especially during times where intense concentration is required. Another disruption that could negatively affect an employee's production is in trying to juggle multiple responsibilities so management should ensure that the employee is completing each individual task before the next one is begun.

Workload and time management strategies

With the prioritisation tasks being the responsibility of the line manager, training should be given to ensure that they understand how to get the best out of the employee. By providing something as simple as a wall planner can often have significant benefits. Ensuring that each day starts with a brief planning meeting, both the manager and employee are fully aware of what tasks are expected to be completed during the day. Furthermore, having a layout of regular tasks will help empower the employee to feel in control of their workload.
As part of the daily planning meeting, the employee should be reminded of the day's important deadlines and meetings. Therefore, the employee should be encouraged to use the calendar and alarm features found on almost every computer system, such as Microsoft Outlook. By reinforcing the day's priorities, the manager has provided the support the employee needs while also giving them the responsibility for ensuring each target is met.
 
"With the prioritisation tasks being the responsibility of the line manager, training should be given to ensure that they understand how to get the best out of the employee."

Utilise available technologies

There are a number of basic and specialised technological strategies currently available, which when utilised appropriately, can greatly increase efficiency. These range from simple processes such as using voicemail for basic communications rather than email or written memos to advanced text-to-speech software. In addition to text-to-speech software, onscreen word banks and predictive software can have a significant impact on improving the written work of a dyslexic employee. Furthermore, for those employees who are especially articulate and expressive verbally, voice recognition software can allow them to have their ideas converted from the spoken word to text quickly but this software will not suit all dyslexic employees.

Funding

'Access to Work' (AtW) is a Government-funded grant operated through Job Centre Plus which can help. If an employee applies for funding within the first six weeks they are employed with you, AtW will cover up 100% of the costs of the reasonable adjustments. If the application is made after the six weeks, then AtW may cover a significant amount of the costs but this is dependent on the type and size of your organisation. Check this out at https://www.gov.uk/browse/working/finding-job.

You can read part 1 here

iansyst Ltd has specialised in the area of dyslexia for over 27 years and delivers a range of advice, software and computer technologies to enable dyslexic people to achieve their potential. If you would like to start the process of becoming a dyslexia-friendly company, please contact iansyst Ltd through the website

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