There are many ways to help your staff with dyslexia achieve more in the workplace, including online dyslexia training from CPD Bytes. A lot of the problems that they will incur on a daily basis can be reduced or eliminated with a little careful thought and planning. The following are a few suggestions in how to achieve this using information distributed by the British Dyslexia Association.
Make a proper assessment
Each person with dyslexia will be affected in different ways. Because there will be no ‘one size fits all’ solution it’s imperative to find out about your staff personally, assess their individual needs and apply them to the work involved.
Consider their working environment, how that will affect their specific difficulties, and also consider what’s involved in their day-to-day work practices. If special training is available that you believe will help their day run smoother then discuss this with your member of staff and see if they agree.
It’s worth remembering that none of these suggestions are set out to be an overnight remedy, just to make adaptations to help with your staff’s tasks. Real changes take time. Remember to review and assess the situation regularly, that way you can keep tweaking until the system is efficient as possible.
Issues related to reading
Always try to give verbal as well as written instruction. Staff with the condition will be more in tune with verbal communication, in fact it can often be considered a strength when compared standard readers, so tell them what’s going on and reiterate the highlights with written bulleted notes afterwards for reference.
In a similar way you can highlight important information in documents with markers and highlighter pens. This way they will know exactly where the important information is without having to trawl entire documents to find it.
Sending round robin memos and emails to your staff may be more difficult to understand quickly for dyslexic staff; wherever possible could you use voicemail or voice memos rather than written ones to avoid additional reading?
When it comes to reading there are a host of technologies now that convert text into speech. Consider any of these if your staff member thinks that they will help. Software for all computer operating systems is widely available and C-Pen readers can convert loose documents into text in order to transfer it to a computer, some will even read it aloud. A traditional scanner with text recognition software will work just as well if other options aren’t readily available.
Another factor to consider with reading related issues is the use of coloured paper or coloured backgrounds on computer, tablet and mobile devices. It’s widely accepted that bright white backgrounds interfere with the reader’s comprehension; soft colours such as creams, pastels and off-whites can alleviate this considerably.
Issues related to reading and writing
It goes without saying but if you want to help your staff read or write any document then always allow them the correct amount of time. It is likely to be longer than it would be for typical readers so try to accept that not allowing that extra time for your staff member is likely to put them under unnecessary additional pressure to keep up, and we all know that’s where mistakes are often made.
If there are alternatives you can set up to avoid time spent reading then consider how to implement those into the work structure. You can always discuss the reading material if it’s of a suitable length to make it a practical option; you can then outline the summaries and key points in your conversation.
Where possible try to use audio or image based information. Anything that avoids reading blocks of text will help your staff. Videos, illustrations, infographics, drawings, diagrams and flowcharts are all good replacements to presenting factual information.
Mind-mapping software can be used to convert text into visually organised information using diagrams and charts. There is a host of software available and also methods in learning how to make notes in this format to hand to your staff.
Digital recorders can be used to pass verbal notes as opposed to written ones and speech to text software now comes as standard on practically all computers and devices. Make sure your staff has them installed, turned on and is willing to use them wherever appropriate.
Another simple solution to take pressure from the dyslexic is to allow somebody else to take minutes of meetings and then pass them on at the end. They can then be transposed onto a computer to be easier understood or converted to whatever means necessary to be utilised fully.
Spelling and Grammar
As well as text reading and technical mind mapping solutions your staff should also be aware of the range of assistive text software available. Most computers and devices offer at least a basic spell check facility, some will add grammar correction to the function, and there are both offline and online text editors and grammar checkers that will alert the user to any errors they may have overlooked during the writing process.
If you know a member of staff has the condition then it’s going to be vital to proofread any work that is going to be seen by a client or to be put into the public domain. As discussed previously, you can’t pigeonhole everybody with the disorder, so it’s important to assess them specifically in order to know what level of observation regarding their work you’ll need to take. Only time will tell on that score so be vigilant until you both feel comfortable with your situation.
Having already touched on how different background colours can affect reading text for your staff member so can any way a screen may appear to dazzle or distract the user. Anti-glare filters can often be a great solution to this problem and are readily available from many stationers, office supplies outlets or dyslexia specialists.
The brightness of a screen can have a great impact, remind your staff to keep an eye on it, and to take regular breaks too – at least one in every hour to give their vision a chance to settle back to its normal state. You can alternate computer work and other tasks to break up the challenges of reading and writing and also to give struggling eyes a rest to reset.
To really help alleviate problems arising from the disorder try and help your staff to avoid all day computer work if at all possible, especially if it can work for both them and the company.
An office is more than a room containing desks, chairs, phones and computers. It’s the people too who make it a professional environment. If any of your staff have dyslexia then you can help in ways both personal and practical to maintain that level of professionalism, and without any undue additional problems to your team.
Changing the system to better handle the technical aspects; such as specialist software, hardware, reading and writing equipment, communication methods and more will bring physical advantages to your staff member.
However, the understanding and ability to work with your staff by removing areas where they may struggle will add countless benefits not only to the worker’s production but also to their sense of well-being, appreciation and mood around the workplace; and this could be seen as one of the biggest advantages of all because if you’re staff are happy in their roles they work harder and more efficiently, they become more productive and that increased level of productivity is where the real profit is made.