Monday 4th October to Sunday 10th October marks Dyslexia Week. It’s estimated that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia and quite often it presents itself alongside a number of other conditions such as dyscalculia (difficulties with numbers) and ADD (attention deficit disorder).
To shine a light on some of the ways that you can support colleagues with dyslexia in the workplace, we gathered the thoughts of some of our own team members with dyslexia at Fuel and put together a few helpful tips.
1. Don’t rush through meetings – encourage everyone to contribute
For someone with dyslexia, ideas may not flow right away. Try to make sure that everyone has understood the information given to them and that they’ve had a chance to contribute before moving on to the next topic.
2. Make coloured markers, paper and overlays available
Blue lined paper and coloured pens help to make writing more memorable and easier to break down. Coloured glasses are also a great tool to make lengthy text more manageable. Adapt what you do to be inclusive for all needs and if in doubt, ask what would be helpful.
3. Encourage your team to re-read important emails
How many times have you rushed an email response and later found it multiple errors? We all do it. Sometimes just taking a little extra time to check your messages can be helpful. This is a great tip for everyone, especially those with dyslexia. Allow everyone time to re-read important emails before they’re sent out. Printing the text off and reading it out loud in a quiet part of the office is a well-practised tactic.
4. Encourage friendly structures
Create accessible structures and guidance for written communication. This could mean that colleagues are encouraged to contribute in the form of questions or bullet points (e.g. to produce reports) where appropriate. It can help focus on the key information and avoids asking anyone to have to write too much or worrying about it.
5. Champion to-do lists and memory aids
To-do lists and flash cards can be extremely useful when managing tasks, whether you’re working in the office or remotely. If a team member struggles with certain words, they could build their own glossary of frequently used words to help them to remember the correct spelling without having to ask or spend time repeatedly checking.
6. Allocating more time to particular tasks and be flexible
Allowing a little extra time to complete tasks can make all the difference to people with dyslexia. Ask for feedback about how your team members feel about timeframes and expectations and adapt them accordingly. Writing and information-gathering tasks for example can often be quite stressful so try to avoid firing out what you presume to be ‘quick’ tasks.
7. Be open
Create an open and safe environment where everyone can discuss their difficulties. The focus should always be on supporting and finding solutions that work for everyone. The more you know, the more you can help and work with your team.
8. Don’t get frustrated or angry
There is no need to destroy someone’s confidence over a spelling mistake, even if you’re under pressure or in a rush to complete something. If it’s necessary to do so, identify any mistakes in a solution-focused and constructive way – try to not get annoyed or angry – and use it as a teaching moment and opportunity to improve the process.
9. Celebrate your team’s strengths
Many people with dyslexia suffer in silence and have a sense of embarrassment about their struggles. Help to celebrate dyslexic team members’ strengths and not just focus on improving their weaknesses.