Keri McWilliams, Texthelp

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Be positive about dyslexia


Do you support dyslexia within your organisation? It's time to nurture your dyslexic staff and make sure they reach their full potential.




Dyslexia is recognised as a learning disability under the UK Equality Act. This Legislation was introduced to protect the rights of individuals in the workplace.  Regardless of the law, dyslexia should be embraced as a learning difference and not a ‘disability’. 
 
Too few companies make adequate provision for employees needing a little extra help with everyday tasks like researching on the web or composing an email. This picture varies enormously from industry to industry, of course. Effective accommodations are embedded into the framework of many public sector bodies. But step into the commercial world and it’s all too often a case of ‘sink or swim’ for individuals with any kind of literacy challenge.

Why do so many employers fail to cater for staff with dyslexia? 

As a ‘hidden’ difference, it often doesn’t make its presence known when employees join the company. Pitted against 100 other applicants, would you want to advertise it prominently on your CV or during an interview? Unlikely.

In a corporate culture that’s invariably focused on quick returns, any kind of provision for individuals with different needs – however inexpensive and quick to implement in actual resourcing terms – is seen as an unwelcome drag on the bottom line. But for organisations to simply dismiss dyslexia as a ‘problem’ overlooks a bigger picture.

The positives

As US educational experts Fernette and Brock Eide have pointed out, dyslexia can bring staff and their employers a number of unexpected upsides. Some individuals show significantly better-than-average visualisation and 3D spatial reasoning, making them prime candidates to be architects, designers or engineers. 

They can have great recall of facts and experiences, and often exhibit creative narrative strengths – evidenced by the surprising number of dyslexic poets and writers. They’re often efficient delegators. And they can also be adept at piecing together partial or rapidly-changing information to make predictions, seeing the big picture that others may miss.
 
Dyslexia certainly doesn’t have to be an impediment to academic and professional success. As reported by Scientific American, it’s exhibited by astrophysicists, biochemists and at least one Nobel Prize winner – a consequence, perhaps of its association with finely-tuned pattern matching and analytical abilities.
 
For any highly functioning professional team, individuals with dyslexia can represent a very real asset. The limitation is not the abilities of an individual employee – it’s the mindset of the employer.

Do you nurture your dyslexic staff? We’d love to hear how you support and ensure their full potential. Feel free to share your story in the comment box below. 

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