In a recent article on this website, we explored the term ‘Psychological Safety’ and how employers are looking to ensure that employees feel psychologically safe as they go about their daily tasks. Whilst this term refers to workplace relationships, when it comes to written work, the article questions how far employers have come in ensuring that employees have what they need to write accurately so as to effectively communicate information without the ‘distractions’ of people judging one’s ability to spell. In this post, we look at how to get support for dyslexia in the workplace.
Various organisations agree that a significant proportion of the population in the United Kingdom experience challenges with literacy with much of the causation being related to having dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a language disorder that affects aspects of using literacy and the way that one communicates and often this is presented with varying levels of ability with spelling and grammar within the workplace.
Without support, employees with dyslexia can experience higher levels of anxiety if facing tasks that play to their weaknesses affecting how one approaches their day to days tasks. Feelings of overwhelm are not uncommon and with overwhelm comes procrastination.
Challenges with spelling and grammar may, on the face of it, seem minor, but due to the emotional aspects related to these challenges, companies can experience reduced levels of productivity, creativity, and innovation. Imperial College’s Janette Beetham and Leyla Okhai in their paper entitled “Workplace Dyslexia & Specific Learning Difficulties—Productivity, Engagement and Well-Being” stated:
“The longer-term impact of not seeking appropriate tailored support can result in work performance issues and it can have a negative impact on overall well-being (plus if not acted upon could result in negative mental health in the longer term).”
The paper goes on to talk about how the lack of support for dyslexia can put employee mindsets into a ‘survival mode’ that reduces engagement. It makes good business sense to ensure that employees with dyslexia get support to be able to work at their best as well as also fulfilling a legal requirement mandated within the Equalities Act 2010.
What employers can do to get the best out of their dyslexic employees.
Whilst, according to the Equalities Act 2010, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against disability, the UK Government recognises the need to support employers as they in turn support employees who experience any kind of disability.
The government defines ‘disability’ as having a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ effect on one’s ability to do normal daily activities. Dyslexia meets this definition of ‘disability’ and as such, individuals with dyslexia are eligible for support from the UK Government’s Access To Work Scheme.
What is the Access To Work Scheme?
The Access To Work Scheme is a national initiative that helps those with disabilities get work or stay in work.
Depending upon the needs of the individual through Access To Work, one can apply for:
A grant to help pay for practical support with one’s work,
Advice about managing one’s mental health at work,
Money to pay for communication support at job interviews.
In terms of supporting an individual with practical support for their work, the individual undergoes a ‘needs assessment’ after applying for Access To Work support and this results in a grant letter that explains what support the UK Government is willing to pay for in order to help an individual to do their job. The support (in terms of dyslexia) comes in the form of the provision of assistive technology such as ‘text to speech’, for example, TextAid or other technologies that help with access to literacy and productivity, training on the use of assistive technology, as well as sessions with a strategy coach that can help the client to find ways to unlock new, effective ways of completing tasks within the workplace.
Often, strategy coaching identifies initiatives that the employer could put in place to help an individual such as being given access to a private meeting room for concentration-intensive tasks or adapting their IT strategy to allow for assistive technology to be used.
How can individuals maximise the benefit of applying to Access To Work?
At Aventido, we recognise how important it is to have access to assistive technology so that people can achieve what they want to achieve to the best of their ability, but often when given support via schemes such as Access To Work or the university equivalent of the Disabled Students Allowance, often an individual receives their technology all at the same time and then the training comes next. Often the individual getting support can sometimes experience ‘support overload’ and then do not use all of the tools provided to their advantage through not being able to process all the information given to them at point of delivery.
To combat this effect and to truly unlock the value of assistive technology, ‘e-learning’ tools such as ‘atWork’ provide the individual with a personalised approach to further training with their assistive technology.
We all can forget key information during face-to-face training and so ‘atWork’ provides a reference, post-training on how to use each individual piece of assistive technology at the point in time when the user really needs it. The software also upskills the user by providing training on writing reports, time management, researching information, and presenting.
At Aventido, we love to help individuals unlock their potential using assistive technology. We also work with employers who want to get the best out of their employees.