Positive about Dyslexia in the Workplace

29 September 2017

This year’s Dyslexia Awareness Week (2nd - 8th October) and Dyslexia Awareness Day (5th October) are all about being Positive about Dyslexia - #positivedyslexia2017.

In support of this year’s theme, we asked our Vocational Rehabilitation team for their thoughts on how employers can demonstrate positivity regarding dyslexia. Here’s what they had to say…

*** We ran a free webinar on the topic of dyslexia on 3rd October, 2017. You can listen to the recording here or take a look at the question and answer session here***


Dyslexia in the workplace

If dyslexia is left undiagnosed or unsupported in the workplace it can lead to performance issues or work related stress and in some cases job loss. With 1 in 10 people living with dyslexia1 , it’s important employers are given support around how best to help dyslexic employees.

Many of the people we encounter when providing dyslexia assessments are often worried about disclosing their dyslexia to their employer. They are worried that saying they are dyslexic could have a negative impact on their career and their employer’s perception of them. This is a shame as there are lots of ways that employers can offer support so employees need not feel like this.


6 ways employers can demonstrate positivity about dyslexia

As an employer (or line manager) it can be difficult to know how best to support an employee with dyslexia. Creating a working environment where dyslexia is understood as a whole, but also where individuals are supported in ways which consider how their dyslexia manifests itself within their role is key. Here are six important elements which can help ensure you’re taking a positive approach to dyslexia in the workplace.

    • 1) Have a real understanding of what dyslexia is and how it may affect an individual

The British Dyslexia Association Website has a whole host of information for employers and people who are dyslexic. This is a great starting point to find out more information. We'll also be talking about this in our webinar (click on the link at the bottom of this page to join us).

    • 2) Recognise that individuals with dyslexia have positive strengths

“It’s time we all understand dyslexia properly as a different thinking skill-set, not a disadvantage”,Sir Richard Branson - Ambassadorial President Made By Dyslexia. It is important to focus on these areas of ability, which are often outstanding. We could say that individuals with dyslexia are ‘specialist thinkers’ rather than people who have a ‘specific learning difficulty’. Take a look at the Joining the Dots - Report on understanding Dyslexia (May 2017) for more information.

    • 3) Learn how to identify (and support) those with dyslexic difficulties

Many employees worry about disclosing dyslexia to their employer. As an employer, it’s important to encourage employees to disclose that they are dyslexic. One way to do this is to make sure you let your employees know that that dyslexia will be viewed positively and that they will be supported, not discriminated against. There are many organisations that provide support once dyslexia is identified and this support can often be funded through Access to Work.

    • 4) Offer appropriate assessments and support for employees with dyslexia, or those who think they may be dyslexic

Perhaps not surprisingly, the thought of dyslexia assessments can be scary for an employee, not least because they may be wary about how their results may be viewed. It’s important for employers to reassure their employee that any further investigation comes from a supportive place. The screening section on the The British Dyslexia Association website and  The psychological assessments section on The Genius Within website are two good sources of information.

    • 5) Make appropriate adjustments

Making adjustments and supporting the individual to use effective coping strategies is a really positive way to help your employees manage their condition in a way that works for them. The reasonable adjustments section on The British Dyslexia Association website has lots of information.

  • 6) Tell staff about the support you offer

Communication really is the key: raise awareness of the dyslexia support available within your business whether that’s via 1:1s with managers, information on your intranet, a leaflet given to each employee, or adding it to your overall employee benefits communication.


Useful resources:

There are lots of great websites and tools to help you become positive about dyslexia in the workplace, here are just some of them:

      • Dyslexia eLearning: Neurotalent unlocked (previously Win With Dyslexia) offers eLearning and educational resources to help adults with dyslexia and related conditions unlock their full potential.
      • Dyslexia resource Crib sheets: Useful guides from Genius Within.
      • This website is a great resource for people with dyslexia and employers. It has information on legislation, reasonable adjustments etc. It also has advice for individuals. The website is in a simplistic user-friendly format to help those who have difficulty navigating websites.


Unum's dyslexia webinar - 3rd October 2017:

If you missed our free webinar that looked at how you can take a positive approach to dyslexia in the workplace, you can still:

  • click here to listen to a recorded version of the webinar
  • click here to take a look at the questions and answers that took place during the session


1 British Dyslexia Association, http://info.unum.co.uk/e/220312/about/6j172/47788357 [accessed 22.09.17]