Dyslexia Awareness Week takes place from 7-12 November and this year’s theme ‘Dyslexia: did you know…?’ opens up discussions about how much organisations really understand about dyslexia, how it affects their staff and the support that’s available.
We know what you’re thinking - that someone who has achieved the high academic results required to become a solicitor couldn’t possibly have dyslexia. But the reality is that many high academic achievers, in all types of professions, get to where they are despite being affected by dyslexia. Dyslexia affects the way the brain retains and processes information, not the person’s intellectual ability.
It’s estimated that as many as 1 in ten of the population have dyslexia so the chances are high that someone in your firm, or even your department, is affected.
Dyslexia Awareness Week is an annual reminder that we need to change our professional mindset, to focus on the benefits not the limitations of neurodiverse conditions like dyslexia. Becoming a Dyslexia-friendly organisation might not be the easiest journey, but it’s one that will bring huge benefits for the business, and ultimately your clients.
By becoming more dyslexia friendly you’re not only recognising the unique talents of existing dyslexic employees, but encouraging recruitment from a wider talent pool which reflects the diverse range of customers you serve and the communities in which you are based.
What can you do to connect with existing staff and be a more dyslexia-friendly organisation?
- Have nominated dyslexic champions - ’go-to’ people who understand the condition and can offer support to staff.
- Educate managers and team leaders about the effects of dyslexia and encourage them to look for signs in staff in order to support them. Dyslexic employees face particular challenges and often experience work-related stress which can result in absenteeism. But a fully supported dyslexic employee brings unique talents, like ‘outside the box’ thinking, creativity and a different perspective.
- Assistive technology can offer much needed literacy support to dyslexic staff, as well as being used as a general productivity improver for all staff. Think about installing software that will help those with dyslexia on all your computers, laptops and devices, where it can be used by everyone without singling out dyslexic staff.
- Communicate to staff that you’re a dyslexia-friendly organisation and let everyone know that assistive technology support is available. This is particularly important during recruitment and induction processes - and as part of an ongoing staff wellbeing programme.
- Is your website dyslexia friendly? It’s usually a potential job applicant’s first impression of you and if it’s easy for those with dyslexia to navigate and read, it’ll help you get off on the right foot. (You may have noticed the small orange circle in the bottom left corner of our website. This is Browsealoud - a service which helps make our website more accessible for those with dyslexia and other accessibility needs.)
- Be proud to be a dyslexia friendly organisation – mention it on your website, in recruitment ads etc.