8 ways to support employees with dyslexia
It has never been more important for companies to strengthen their commitment to inclusion.
While many companies are making an effort to hire employees from all races, backgrounds, and walks of life, it is equally as important to hire neurodivergent talent as well. For those who are unfamiliar, neurodiversity is a concept where disabilities such as dyslexia are viewed simply as any other human variation as opposed to a deficiency.
With that said, some individuals with a neurodivergent condition may require additional tools and support. It’s important that you’re equipped to overcome any barriers they may experience. This is why we have interviewed seven business leaders and asked them what is one way that employers can better support employees with dyslexia. Keep reading to learn easy ways you can help your company to be more inclusive and welcoming to those with neurodifferences!
Adapt and Accommodate
Work with your neurodivergent or dyslexic employees on accommodations, if needed. Ask them what kinds of tasks they feel confident completing and which they may need extended deadlines for. Communication is important in the workplace no matter what and that includes creating accommodations and adaptations for employees who request them.
- Court Will, Will & Will -
Offer Supportive Software
Supporting employees with dyslexia starts with understanding it yourself. As a manager, it is your responsibility to research and learn exactly what dyslexia entails so that you can make an educated plan with an employee. One specific example would be making sure that the employee has software or tools of some sort, like Read&Write, that can convert text to audible sound so that they can hear what others would read. It is a small way to ensure that an employee can still effectively and comfortably do their job.
- Max Hansen, Y Scouts -
Use Easy to Read Fonts
Choose easy to read fonts for all company correspondence. Some fonts are easier to read than others and, for employees with dyslexia, a poorly chosen font could add unnecessary difficulty to their work. Gather a list of fonts that are best for those employees to ensure their best work.
- Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center -
Adapt Your Team Communication Style
As the owner of the company, it is my responsibility to make sure that everyone is set up for success at Stomadent. To support individuals with dyslexia takes effort on the part of all team members, but can be done! The best way to support an employee with dyslexia would be to adapt your team communication style. In a presentation full of data and numbers on a slide, include visual elements that your employee will be able to easily understand and process. Not only does this show support for that team member, but adding graphics to any presentation will only make it more fun for everyone involved!
- Henry Babichenko, Stomadent Dental Lab -
Demonstrate a Supportive Culture
First, understand that there may be employees you manage who are hesitant to disclose that they have dyslexia. This can be for many reasons, from worry for their career to embarrassment at what they may struggle with. The best way to support your employees who may deal with this is to be open-minded. If an employee does share with you these worries, make it clear to them that your office is a safe and supportive environment. A way to establish this kind of office culture can be achieved by asking your employees what they need. An employee with dyslexia may find they work better when documents are in a certain dyslexia-friendly font while others may benefit the most from innovative software such as Read&Write. In the end, discussing options with your employees is the best way to truly support them. After all, they understand their needs the best.
- Tara Thompson, Markitors -
Partner with Expert Organizations
Engage in the interactive process with employees to better understand their disability and how it impacts them at work. Ask what they have found to be successful, and offer to research other methods, tools, and technologies that may be of assistance. Reaching out to professional contacts and organizations such as the Job Accommodation Network can yield great information and resources to help your employees.
- Colleen McManus, Senior HR Executive and Consultant -
Explore Digital Tools
When employing someone with dyslexia, you’ll want to pay attention to their preferred style of communication and learning to set them up for success. Digital tools can help. For example, instant spell checkers are helpful because the employee can focus on getting their thoughts down instead of worrying whether everything is spelled correctly. Screen readers can help with email and important documents, while speech to text tools can keep their notes and other documents clear. Finally, providing memos and other handouts on colored paper can improve contrast and help your employee discern them.
- Jennifer Fulmer, TechnologyAdvice -
Provide Ample Review Time
One way employers can best support their employees with dyslexia is making sure that all meeting material is always distributed long before the meeting. Someone with dyslexia might become overwhelmed when receiving a document to review and discuss on the spot, so be prepared and deliver important documents in advance.
- Michael Staton, Lyon Shield Security -
Individuals with neurodivergent conditions bring a wealth of skills and talent to any organization. As an employer, it's important that you create an inclusive environment where they can thrive. To help, you, we've created a video series in partnership with neurodiversity specialists, Lexxic. Gain expert insights to help you support employees with dyslexia, adhd, autism and dyspraxia. You'll also hear from Read&Write user, Taljinder, on the role of technology in supporting her dyslexia. Watch the series today.
You can also check out our guide on supporting employees with dyslexia in the workplace to learn how to unlock the unique strengths of neurodiverse employees.