“Ten percent of the population are believed to be dyslexic, but it is still often poorly understood. With the right support, the strengths and talents of dyslexic people can really shine” (BDA, 2020)
Weston College is a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Centre for Excellence and a Queen’s Anniversary Prize winner for our outstanding inclusive practice.
This means we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise which we're keen to share with employers.
At Weston College we have specialist practitioners in Dyslexia available to conduct workplace assessments and offer advice and guidance to not only the employee but employer, so please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the team to request this support.
It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Although dyslexic people may experience some of the difficulties listed above they have great strengths in areas such as reasoning, problem solving, people skills and in visual and creative fields. Ensuring employees with learning difficulties are supported effectively will enable you to harness the true potential and diverse skill set within your workforce.
Get in touch today to talk about how we can help support your organisation.
How your business can benefit
Our specialist staff work closely with you to help you understand the needs and targets of apprentices. This will allow you to match appropriate job roles and enable them to work independently and autonomously.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a neurological difference, which can impact children and adults of all intellectual abilities.
Common characteristics of Dyslexia include:
• Difficulty with reading
• Difficulty remembering and following verbal instructions
• Difficulty when writing by hand
• Spelling and grammar errors
• Difficulty reversing numbers
• Directional difficulties
• Difficulty with short term memory especially remembering names, numbers and lists
• Difficulty in organisation.
Although the exact cause of Dyslexia is unknown considerable research has been undertaken and several risk factors have been identified which include: family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities, premature birth or low birth weight and exposure during pregnancy to nicotine, drugs, alcohol or infection that may alter brain development in the foetus.
Dyslexia affects each person individually and is best thought of as a continuum, which can range from mild to severe. Co-occurring difficulties may be experienced in language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation. The severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be determined by examining how the individual responds or has responded to planned intervention.
Supporting Employees in the Workplace
An employer is legally obliged to provide assistance under the Equality Act 2010 to an individual that suspects they have Dyslexia. They have a duty of care to ensure that employees with dyslexia are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments or support.
If an employee thinks they may be Dyslexic, a checklist can be used to determine the nature of any difficulties that are being experienced and can be a useful tool to determine whether further screening should take place.
If a need for further screening is identified, Weston College are able to screen individuals using an online tool called GL Assessment, which will identify if they have any indicators of Dyslexia or Dyscalculia. Please contact email@example.com if you would like to request a screener for an employee. Depending on the outcome of the screener, a formal diagnostic assessment may be desired and a referral to a consultant can be made.
This can cost around £425. Employers often contribute to the cost of an assessment.
It is important that the assessment is carried out by either Specialist Teachers (AMBDA qualified) or Chartered, or Occupational Psychologists. If you are having a diagnostic assessment in order to claim for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) then the assessor needs to have a current Assessment Practising Certificate (APC). The diagnostic report should include a thorough conclusion of assessment findings, as well as recommendations for supporting the individual at home/school/work.
For People with severe Dyslexia, help from government schemes such as New Deal or WorkStep may be available.
If you have an employee that is Dyslexic it is important to make the workplace dyslexia friendly, as this will help reduce stress, increase morale and motivation, which may result in reduced staff turnover and sickness leave.
Effective changes within the workplace do not have to be expensive or time-consuming. It is often small organisational changes that can help an individual get the very best from their employees and make a dramatic difference.
It is important to discuss and identify with the employee what adjustments would be beneficial.
Things to consider include:
• Allow employees to approach work tasks and procedures in a manner/ style that is easiest for them
• Make information available in alternative formats such as audio files
• Organise Staff awareness training on dyslexia, and the challenges and strengths it presents
• Implement use of assistive technology – Read/ Write, dictate, immersive reader, enabling the individual to personalise their work station using accessibility tools
• Adapt communication methods i.e. printing company-wide information on different coloured paper (pastel backgrounds), in a size 14 font, 1.5 line spacing in font types that resemble the handwritten alphabet – Courier New/ Comic Sans/ Verdana
• Consider accessibility of documents – missing alt texts, arrangement of selection pane etc
• Give instructions in sequenced bite size chunks
• Model tasks to provide an example of the finished product as a way of giving an instruction without relying on words
• Allow 1-2 minute take up time to digest information
• Ensure any training delivered is as multi-sensory as possible – auditory, visual, kinaesthetic
• Try to avoid sudden changes without informing the employee beforehand
• In meetings/ training provide an agenda or print the presentation slides for the employee to annotate
• Prioritising tasks to aid time management and organisational skills.
Although employers are bound by the Equality Act 2010 to treat employees fairly, some demonstrate that they are particularly positive about employing and retaining disabled people and they demonstrate this by placing a' disability confident’ symbol on their job adverts.
The disability confident symbol is a government initiative, which aims to encourage an employer to make specific commitments regarding the employment of disabled people. These commitments are:
• To interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities
• To discuss with disabled employees, at any time but at least once a year, what both parties can do to make sure disabled employees can develop and use their abilities
• To make every effort when employees become disabled to make sure they stay in employment
• To take action to ensure that all employees develop the appropriate level of disability awareness needed to make these commitments work
• To review these commitments each year and assess what has been achieved, plan ways to improve on them and let employees and Jobcentre Plus know about progress and future plans.
If an employer engages in this scheme, an individual with a disability is guaranteed an interview if they meet the minimum conditions for the job vacancy.
Please visit: https://disabilityconfident.campaign.gov.uk, to learn more about this scheme.
If you would like to learn more about different learning difficulties, Weston College offer a range of online CPD courses to further your knowledge and understanding. Courses on offer include:
• Awareness of Mental Health Certificate (level 2)
• Behaviour that Challenges (level 2)
• Specific Learning Difficulties (level 2)
• Understanding Autism (level 2)
• Working with Learners with Specific Learning Disabilities (level 2)
• Working with People with Mental Health Needs (level 2)
Alternatively, if you would like any bespoke training delivered in a specific area please don’t hesitate to contact the apprenticeship/SEND support team to discuss this further.