How to support an employee with dyslexia

Reasonable adjustments are the steps taken to help an individual gain the most of their strengths and minimise the challenges that they might experience as a result of their dyslexia. These adjustments will vary according to the needs of the employee and the job role. An employee does not need to have had an diagnostic assessment in order to receive reasonable adjustments.

It is advised that specialist advice, such as a Workplace Needs Assessment, is taken to determine the most appropriate adjustments for a particular individual.

When making reasonable adjustments, you should determine:

  • The nature of the individual’s dyslexia; this could be obtained from a diagnostic assessment.
  • The requirements of the job and its related requirements which should be obtained through a Workplace Needs Assessment.
  • The working environment and working practices, and any impact on performance.
  • The requirements of any associated training and assessment.

This process will help to identify job and training requirements that are likely to be the most successful in mitigating any areas of difficulty. Implementing reasonable adjustments will not be an overnight remedy. Depending on the nature of the dyslexia and the job specification, it may take a few months before it’s appropriate to review the impact that the adjustments have made.

It’s important to be aware that people with dyslexia will not all have the same areas of strength and weakness. Many adjustments are just an adaptation of a way of working and may also help staff members who are not dyslexic.

How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

An average of 10% of the Irish population has dyslexia so it’s likely your business currently employs or will employ, someone with this learning difficulty.

People with dyslexia often have average or above-average intelligence with excellent creative thinking skills. This allows them to see a variety of solutions to a problem.

However, many companies are still unaware of the impact that this disability can have on an employee’s job or how a few simple strategies can help to unlock their potential.

As an employee with dyslexia, here are some of my tips on how to effectively manage employees with dyslexia and get the most out of your employees.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a genetic condition and caused by differences in the way the brain works. It has nothing to do with physical problems, a lack of intelligence or emotional issues. A person with dyslexia may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling or with numbers.

How to recognise the signs:

Dyslexia is often referred to as the ‘hidden disability’ as there are no visible physical signs. It is completely unlinked to intelligence and many dyslexics are innovative and strong leaders.

Some common traits of an employee with dyslexia are:

  • A tendency to confuse dates and times and to miss meetings
  • Difficulty with meeting deadlines
  • Difficulties with reading
  • A problem with starting and finishing their work
  • Problems with the planning and completing written work
  • Poor spelling & problems with long words
  • A tendency to misunderstand information
  • Losing or forgetting things

Communication techniques:

If an employee has dyslexia talk to them about their preferred form of communication. If you just send an email, they might not fully understand the instructions.

Many dyslexic people also struggle with remembering and following verbal instructions. Therefore, if you are giving them information it is advised that you give it written and verbally. Instructions should be given clearly and concisely and if complicated, check that they understand fully.

When you are giving directions go up to them, don’t talk across from your desk, as this might be embarrassing for them.

Workload and time management

People with dyslexia often struggle with organisational skills. As a manager, it’s important to be aware of this. To ensure work is done as efficiently as possible, it can be a good idea to have a brief daily meeting to remind your employee of their tasks and priorities.

Make workplace adjustments

There are many technologies which can help people with dyslexia in everyday life, education and employment.

Reading can be frustrating for dyslexic people as letters can appear jumbled or to dance around the page. Try to introduce a package which enables screen reading such as ClaroRead, Kurzweil and TextHelp Read & Write.

Spelling can be another issue so make sure to provide them with editing tools. I use Grammarly, and when writing an article like this I find it helpful to read it back aloud.

Dyslexic employees are likely to be very creative and curious and will often come up with innovative solutions to problems very quickly.

To help employees with dyslexia reach their full potential and use this creativity give him the tools to manage any extra challenges, such as time management support, clear instructions and organisational tools.

Don’t make your employees feel they have a disability, instead look at their abilities. Through offering them support you will be able to utilise their creativity and ultimately benefit your organisation.

If you’re interested in learning more about hiring and retention or have any talent solution queries please get in touch.

Are you an employer who doesn’t know how to support an employee with dyslexia? Listen

Around 10% of the population have dyslexia and it may affect their day-to-day work in ways that are not immediately obvious. Many dyslexic adults in the workplace have never been formally identified or assessed. Listen Sometimes, those who do have a diagnosis may choose to keep it to themselves. Not everyone understands how their dyslexic difficulties can impact on the many different circumstances which may present in the workplace. Listen

The following situations may cause problems for a dyslexic employee: Listen

  • A change of job description requiring a greater emphasis on written documentation or report writing. (Promotion may have this effect too.) Listen
  • An introduction of new methods of working or IT systems. Listen
  • A new line manager with a more rigid, bureaucratic and less sympathetic management style. Listen

Stress can cause dyslexia difficulties to become more obvious and further impact an employee’s work. Listen

How can you help as an employer? Listen

Ensure your workplace is sensitive to different working and learning styles. Allow employees to approach work tasks and procedures in a manner that is easiest for them. Listen If you’re aware an employee has dyslexia discuss how you can assist them, and implement necessary changes to your office environment. If you notice an employee struggling, it’s always worth investigating that there’s no underlying condition affecting their performance. Listen

The British Dyslexia Association has more information on screening and dyslexia tests for adults. Listen

For further information, employers can order the BDA Code of Practice for Employers. Note that failure to implement reasonable adjustments for a disability is a breach of the Equality Act. Listen

What do employers do if an employee informs them they are dyslexic?

Despite that the fact that the NHS reckons that up to 1 in every 10 to 20 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia, some employers seem to be in the dark about what this condition entails and how it affects employees.

Dyslexia is not linked to intelligence, but it does affect an individual’s reading, writing and spelling. This does not mean, however, they can’t enjoy great success at work and be an asset for your organisation. In fact, with some simple support, they can really thrive.

How does the law protect those with dyslexia?

Under the Equality Act, dyslexia is considered a disability and therefore dyslexic employees are protected from direct discrimination, discrimination arising out of a disability, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation.

Added to this, employers also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments. This duty arises when a disabled employee is placed at a substantial disadvantage by:

  • an employer’s provision, criterion or practice or
  • a physical feature of the employer’s premises or
  • an employer’s failure to provide an auxiliary aid.

An employer will not be required to make reasonable adjustments unless they know or ought reasonably to know that the individual in question is disabled and is likely to be placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability. To discuss further, contact your Employment Law Adviser.

What types of reasonable adjustments could be made?

People have varying degrees of dyslexia, but common things employers may notice is inaccurate spelling, trouble following or remembering detailed instructions, struggles with planning or organisation and/or concentration difficulties.

If an employee had been diagnosed with dyslexia for a long time, it is most likely that they will have strategies in place which can be adopted in the workplace. However, you may find it useful to seek a diagnostic assessment to identify in what particular areas the employee needs support.

What is reasonable adjustment will depend on the degree of their dyslexia, their job role and the way you work in your organisations. In most cases, making reasonable adjustments is not expensive, but they can be highly beneficial to the employee.

Some examples include:

Reading – You could consider text-to-speech software, which allows employees to write a message or email and have it read back to them. You could also think about giving them verbal instructions rather than sending it out in a memo or email.

Writing – You could think about predictive text which anticipates what the user will write after entering a few characters. The employee can then click on the correct word. Or you could provide them with a longer period of time to complete any tasks that require writing or filling in information.

Organisation – You can map out tasks that need to be completed and provide clear deadlines or give them a dictaphone to help keep on top of their workload.

Concentration: Make sure their workstation is quiet and far from distractions and encourage colleagues not to disturb them while they are concentrating on difficult tasks. You could consider allowing them to work from home occasionally.

To discuss your obligations under the Equality Act in more depth, contact your Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.

by Kay Bosworth

How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

People with dyslexia often need help with written documents.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that interferes with visual, auditory or motor processes, making reading and comprehension difficult. Dyslexics don’t see the written word the same way others do. Letters or numbers may appear jumbled and meaningless. Because their reading ability is challenged, dyslexics take longer to perform certain tasks. The condition is most often recognized in children, but it is a life-long impairment that can greatly restrict you at work. If you are dyslexic, don’t be afraid to ask your boss or a prospective employer for assistance to help you succeed on the job.

Reasonable Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Learning disabilities such as dyslexia are included. Under the ADA, employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities, unless such accommodations would create a substantial hardship to the company. Such accommodations include changing the way a job is performed, acquiring equipment and making alterations in the workplace to accommodate the disability.

What You Can Do

Ask someone to read important documents to you. Ask your boss to give you verbal instructions rather than written notes and tape record important instructions or information. Break the job down into smaller tasks and allow enough time to finish any reading that is necessary to get the job done. Use your computer’s voice output, if you have one. Use your word processing program’s spell check and grammar check functions.

What Your Boss Can Do

You are entitled to accommodations, even if your workplace has fewer than 15 employees, but you must ask your employer to provide them. Many workplace accommodations don’t involve extra expense or undue hardship. Simply allowing you to take more time to complete tasks involving reading may be all that is necessary. Other accommodations include scanning documents into a computer and converting text to audio, or using voice-output software, also called screen-reading software, that highlights and reads text out loud from the computer screen. An on-screen ruler or copy highlighter can help you to focus on computer text. Use screen-reading software that reads text out loud, and try electronic and talking dictionaries. Other accommodations could include providing large-print documents or typewritten material in a large, clear font.

Get Help

Adults with dyslexia and other learning disabilities should seek assistance from testing and evaluation professionals. The Job Accommodation Network provides a searchable online resource for accommodation options for people with disabilities.

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disorders, according to a recent report by Dyslexia International. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, workers with dyslexia are entitled to reasonable accommodations to make up for their condition. However, it can be challenging for people who aren’t neurodiverse to gain a good understanding of this disability and how it can be accommodated in the workplace. Here are some fast facts about dyslexia, as well as some pointers on what you can do to support a dyslexic employee.

Fast facts about dyslexia

  • Approximately 10 percent of the global population suffer from dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia is a neurological condition that doesn’t affect an individual’s intelligence.
  • People with dyslexia may have trouble interpreting letters and words, numbers, or both.
  • Many people with dyslexia learn or develop coping strategies so they can function in society.

Things you can do to support a dyslexic employee

Some people who have dyslexia have known about their condition since childhood, while others only learn about it as an adult. Nevertheless, both deserve the support from their manager and colleagues in order to function well in the workplace. Here’s what you can do:

    Educate your team about dyslexia. Traditionally, people with dyslexia have been labeled stupid or lazy — but nothing could be further from the truth. That’s why it’s so important to provide up to date information about the condition so your team understand what their dyslexic colleague deals with on a daily basis and how they can help him or her.

Adapt your team’s communication style. People with dyslexia find it easier to process spoken and image-based data. At the same time, some find it easier to read text in a large font and/or on a colored background, as the MindTools article “How to Manage a Person With Dyslexia” advises. Make sure your team is aware of this and ask them to keep this in mind when communicating with a dyslexic employee.

Provide a quiet workspace. A dyslexic person may struggle to concentrate in an open-plan or noisy office. Do your best to situate him or her somewhere where there’s little noise and few distractions. If this isn’t a possibility, consider the option of telecommuting or flexwork for super challenging projects.

Provide assistive technologies. More and more apps and devices are being developed to help dyslexic people, such as text-to-speech apps and word prediction software.

  • Allow more time for assignments.Yale provides information about the latest tools and technology that can make working life much easier for people with dyslexia.
  • The ROI of supporting a dyslexic employee

    Many high-achieving people are — or were — dyslexic, including Salma Hayek, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, John Lennon, and Pablo Picasso. And this clearly demonstrates that dyslexia doesn’t make someone lazy or stupid. So if you do your best to support your dyslexic employee, you’re likely to see an ROI in terms of reduced absenteeism, lower stress levels, and improved performance and productivity.

    Have a staffing or workforce need?
    Complete this short form, your request will be routed to a Kelly representative and you will be contacted quickly to discuss your hiring need.

    This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week (1 st of October – 7 th October), which is organised by the British Dyslexia Association. Despite most people being aware of the condition, there are still misconceptions about dyslexia, so this week is important to highlight the condition, bust myths and to shed light on the provisions and strategies out there to support the condition in the classroom or at home.

    What is Dyslexia?

    Dyslexia can affect a person’s reading, writing and spelling but it can also affect other areas such as the working memory, sequencing, time management, orientation and much more. There are links to dyslexia being hereditary and there isn’t a cure, however there is a wide range of support available that can enable dyslexic individuals to break down barriers and overcome their own challenges.

    Dyslexia and Assistive Technology

    This year’s focus is on assistive technology, which has fast become a crucial aid to dyslexics who are at work or in the classroom. Assistive technology can be software, hardware or devices that ensure independence and productivity for the day-to-day life of the user.

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Text-to-Speech Software

    Text-to-Speech software has become invaluable to students and workplaces. The software can read emails, web pages, PDFs and Office documents in natural sounding voices. They also provide spell and homophone checkers and highlighting tools, which can enable independence when producing and proofreading their own work.

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Speech Recognition Software

    Speech recognition can quickly transfer a person’s spoken words into digital text. The software can also help the user to navigate round their computers, create and edit documents, surf the web and send an email – all through their voice. Some speech recognition software is up to three times faster than typing.

    Reader Pens

    Reader pens are becoming popular products in schools as they allow the user to process sentences quicker and understand the context. The pen is a portable device that traces over a printed sentence and then reads back the words. There are also exam-approved versions available, which can aid students and create a level playing field in tests.

    Dyslexia in the Workplace

    Since 1 in 10 people are dyslexic, it’s not just a condition that schools should be aware of – under the 2010 Equality act, workplaces are now by law required to make workplace adjustments for their employees with disabilities and health conditions. This means that if an employee with dyslexia has asked for extra support to help them with their job role, management need to ensure that reasonable and correct provisions are put in place for their staff.

    Getting the Best From People Who Struggle With Words

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Letters and words can confuse and frustrate a dyslexic person.

    Have you ever wondered why a team member who is intelligent and full of good ideas can be sloppy and slow when it comes to paperwork?

    He or she seems to take forever to read documents, and writes reports and messages that are often riddled with errors. You may have assumed that he either rushes things or is too lazy to check his work. But had you thought that he may be dyslexic?

    In this article, we explain what dyslexia is; we reveal some of the challenges faced by a dyslexic person; we look at some of the skills and strengths that she can bring to the workplace; and we explore how you can support her, so that she can thrive and succeed in your team.

    What Is Dyslexia?

    The word “dyslexia” is derived from Greek and means “difficulty with words.” People with the condition have difficulty processing and remembering information that they read and hear. But dyslexia has no bearing on intelligence. It’s a lifelong, generally genetic condition that affects between 10 and 15 percent of the population in the U.S. (about 10 percent in the U.K.).

    No two dyslexics will have exactly the same set of symptoms but, according to the American Medical Association, they will experience some of the following:

    • Reading and writing skills below the level expected for their intelligence.
    • Problems with learning the meaning of words.
    • Impaired ability to recognize sounds and to link them with symbols.
    • Slow recognition of written words.
    • Trouble writing down ideas.
    • Poor spelling.
    • A tendency to transpose letters and numbers.
    • Confusion of left and right.
    • Trouble with coordination and poor spatial reasoning.
    • Family history of dyslexia or learning disorders.
    • Poor time management, planning and organizational skills.
    • Low self-esteem and high levels of stress.

    If you recognize any of these characteristics in a team member, or even in yourself, there are many sources of help and information. Good places to start are the websites of The American Dyslexia Association (ADA) and the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). Both of these organizations offer work-based training and support in line with current legislation.

    Note 1:

    Some dyslexic people are reluctant to disclose their condition. They may worry about how it could impact their employment and career prospects, for example, or out of shame at their difficulty in reading and writing.

    Note 2:

    People with dyslexia in the U.S. are protected against discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990, and those in the U.K. are covered by the Equality Act 2010. This means that employers need to make “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace so that dyslexic team member have the same opportunities as anyone else. We look at “reasonable adjustments” below.

    Wherever you work in the world, talk to your HR department for more information about what legislation applies to your organization.

    The Strengths and Advantages of a Dyslexic Team Member

    It is worth reiterating that, just because someone has dyslexia, it does not mean that he is in any way less intelligent than his colleagues. In fact, chances are, he brings creativity, insight and powerful problem solving skills to your team.

    According to Ronald Davis, author of the 2010 book, “The Gift of Dyslexia,” dyslexics think “outside the box” and often excel in entrepreneurship, science and inventions. Polar explorer Ann Bancroft, industrialist Henry Ford, and billionaire businessman Richard Branson all fit this pattern. Other famous and high-achieving dyslexics include physicist Albert Einstein, artist Pablo Picasso, movie director Steven Spielberg, and five-time Olympic gold medalist rower Sir Steven Redgrave.

    With effective support, someone with dyslexia can be a valuable asset to your team. The way that she perceives the world is unique and can be a catalyst for innovation and success. But Davis also warns that, if not handled properly, the challenges faced by dyslexics can lead to low self-esteem , stress and even depression, which can exacerbate their condition.

    Chances are, as the manager of a dyslexic person, you will have challenges to deal with. Changing his role or duties could cause him problems as he tries to adapt to new processes, for example, so you may need to provide additional training.

    Similarly, introducing new technology can mean that you have to help her to adopt new ways of working. However, some new technology may really benefit her, and boost her engagement and productivity. We outline some of the assistive technology that’s available below.

    Managing a Team Member With Dyslexia

    Dyslexia can be very frustrating for your team member and for you as his manager. But there are many simple and inexpensive tips and strategies that you can use to support him, and to get the best from him.

    If a team member asks for help managing her dyslexia, talk to her privately about her needs. Then talk to your HR department to make sure that your organization complies with legislation, and to find out what resources might already be available.

    Here are some practical steps you can take to manage a dyslexic team member successfully:

    1. Adapt Your Communication Style. Take your cue from your dyslexic team member and find out his preferred communication and learning styles . Because of his difficulty processing information, he may prefer you to demonstrate any tasks or activities that you want him to do. Or, he might respond better to information that is presented verbally and/or visually.

    For example, if he is a visual learner, you can highlight the important points in documents, and use Mind Maps , Flow Charts and diagrams. He may also prefer to receive information by voicemail rather than email or instant messaging.

    2. Make Workplace Adjustments. Reading is frustrating for many dyslexic people, because letters can appear to dance around the page. So, if you are handing out printed materials, using a colored background on them can be enormously helpful. Your dyslexic team member can tell you what background colors and contrast works best for her.

    People with dyslexia need precise, clear instructions, and it’s better to give these in a quiet location and to follow them up with a written reminder.

    Finding This Article Useful?

    You can learn another 312 team management skills, like this, by joining the Mind Tools Club.

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    The workplace can be a challenging environment for people who experience SpLDs. Most adults have created strategies that enable them to do their job effectively but in certain circumstances these may not be as effective. Read more about When is thinking differently likely to present challenges?

    Our clients include:

    • Access to Work
    • Government ministries
    • Charitable Organisations
    • NHS Trusts and Healthcare Organisations
    • Law firms
    • Local Authorities
    • Public Utility Companies
    • Armed Forces and Police
    • The Fire & Rescue Services
    • Landscape and Design companies
    • Medical and Pharmaceutical Companies
    • Educational professionals and teachers
    • Engineers
    • Commercial organisations, large and small
    • Universities, Colleges and Schools

    We can help you by providing advice, guidance and services from a specialist who has experience working with employees, employers, HR Departments and those that are self-employed. There are many positive aspects of dyslexia and these traits when properly harnessed can be extremely beneficial in the workplace.


    Employers who provide appropriate support to apprentices with dyslexia will reap the benefit of their strengths and valuable talents.

    The types of support that will be useful for someone with dyslexia will vary from person to person. It is therefore important for line managers to speak to apprentices about the ways in which dyslexia affects their experience of work and what support they find most useful and effective.

    We can support apprentices who have dyslexia and managers of apprentices to ensure apprentices achieve in the workplace.

    Services we can offer include:

    Consultation for managers/employees

    • Advice for a Manager on a particular Employee’s needs, includes advice on reasonable adjustments that can be put into place to support an employee
    • Advice on funding for support and training
    • Suitable for those who don’t know what to do next

    Individual Skills development training for the employee

    Suitable for those experiencing problems such as organisation/time management/planning, reading, creating documents etc.

    All of the above can take place in the workplace, at the Centre or via Skype

    Dyslexia Awareness workshops for Managers and Colleagues:

    • These sessions can be tailor-made to suit requirements
    • Can take place at the centre or in the workplace

    Please complete one of the following initial enquiry forms:

    Adult Enquiry Form

    Paul Cowell is the owner of PC Landscapes and has a number of employees with dyslexia. Hear what he has to say about dyslexia and being an employer:

    For more information about ways forward that might be suggested see our:

    Contact us to find out more and arrange to meet with a specialist.

    Articles from


    No products in the basket.

    Accessibility Options

    We are on day four of Dyslexia Awareness Week in conjunction with the British Dyslexic Association (BDA)!

    There have been some really inspiring stories, such as teenager Jack Harley-Walsh who, after being faced many obstacles with his dyslexia, has started his dream course at university. It’s great to see so many uplifting experiences being shared, as these stories are a reminder that with the right support and equipment, individuals with the condition can adapt well to the classroom and the workplace.

    Helping Each Person Adjust

    Since the 2010 equality act, it’s the law to ensure that employees with dyslexia are not discriminated against and that workplaces are able to provide reasonable changes to ensure they offer a dyslexic-friendly environment. It’s important to note that when making changes in the workplace that each individual is assessed so their severity levels can be determined.

    There are many solutions that can benefit employees with dyslexia in the workplace such as:

    • Installing a dyslexic friendly font onto the individual’s computer, as it enhances readability
    • Providing digital recording devices that can help with the individual’s note-taking skills, such as Sonoscent Audio Notetaker
    • Mind mapping software, which offers the individual a framework for thinking, fleshing out ideas and constructing presentations
    • Text to speech software that allows web pages, word documents and PDFs be read aloud to the employee
    • Ensuring that any documentation for meetings is given to the individual beforehand, so they can have time to process and prepare
    • Visual stress software, such as ClaroView, which amongst many things allows the user to change the screen colour and offers a screen ruler for tracking

    How to Support an Employee with DyslexiaIf you have dyslexia, it can also help if you discuss it with your work colleagues (if you want to, of course), as some people may not fully understand the condition. By doing this, it helps your colleagues with how they can support you so you can master every task.

    Even better, iansyst run dyslexia awareness sessions for the workplace, which will place your colleagues into the shoes of someone who has the condition and really get to understand the everyday challenges of dyslexia.

    At iansyst, we are continually offering new software and solutions that can help with dyslexia, whether in the workplace or classroom. We provide assistive technology that can offer reading, writing and spelling support, plus a range of hardware such as scanning pens, digital recorders and headsets that can increase productivity.

    If you have any questions about our assistive technology or training sessions, please ring on 01223 420 101.

    Wednesday June 6, 2018

    How to Support an Employee with DyslexiaWith dyslexia affecting around 10% of the population, it’s very likely that at some point you’ll encounter it within your workforce. But while most people have heard of dyslexia, if it doesn’t affect you or someone you know, you may not understand exactly what it means – or how to talk about it.

    Without fully understanding the condition, it can be difficult to address dyslexia in the workplace. How will you spot the signs or know how best to support a dyslexic employee?

    The good news is, with the right knowledge and understanding, you can work with your dyslexic employees, helping them reach their full potential – growing both your business and their personal development at the same time.

    What is Dyslexia?

    Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that affects an individual’s ability to process and remember information. It may be classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Although linked to learning, dyslexia is not related to intelligence.

    Dyslexia can often go undeclared in the workplace, due to fear of discrimination. So as an employer, it’s useful to be able to recognise some of the signs and symptoms.

    Common signs of dyslexia can include:

    • Confusion of verbal or written instructions
    • Difficulty with spelling and/or lengthy words
    • Remembering meeting times and dates
    • Short term memory
    • Self-doubt or low self esteem

    What should you do if an employee tells you they are dyslexic?

    If your employee believes they are dyslexic and the evidence supports this, it is good practice to offer support and recommend they get an official diagnosis.

    With official diagnosis it is your duty as an employer to make reasonable adjustments to support your employee.

    How can you support a dyslexic employee?

    Unsupported dyslexia can be both stressful for the individual and disruptive to a business. Luckily there are simple adjustments that can be made, often at no cost to your business.

    Some areas you can investigate to support dyslexia in the workplace include:

    • Advice with planning
    • Providing written and verbal instructions
    • Providing access to technical solutions
    • Allowing more time for specific tasks

    Did you know?

    Many dyslexic people are visually creative or great problem solvers and can go on to achieve great things. For example, Richard Branson the well-known business magnate is dyslexic and describes it as a ‘different and brilliant way of thinking’. He certainly didn’t let the condition hold him back.

    So, in addition to supporting your dyslexic employee, it’s worth discussing new ideas or projects with them. You might be able to nurture hidden talent or undeveloped skills.

    Do you have experience of dealing with dyslexia in the workplace? Tell us about it in the comments below!

    As one RCMP officer sues the force for harassment, we’re reminded of the daily challenges some workers face – here’s how you can support employees with the learning disability.

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Constable Alice Fox claims her superior officer destroyed her career through a campaign of workplace bullying – most of which was aimed at her learning disability – now, she’s taken her claim to the courts. But what can you do to better support your dyslexic staff members? One HR consultant says there are some simple strategies employers can adopt.

    Recognize the signs

    “It’s important that HR understands that dyslexia affects people in a number of different ways,” says Sharon Goldie. “Identifying its signs is vital to both the employee as well as your organisation.”

    “The most obvious signs to look out for include inconsistent spelling, poor time-keeping, difficulties understanding written directions, difficulties taking notes at meetings and/or a disorganised workspace,” she revealed.

    But that’s not to say dyslexic employees can’t be competent employees – the condition is completely unlinked to intelligence and many successful leaders are known to suffer from dyslexia including Richard Branson and Steve Jobs.

    “Dyslexics often have average or above average intelligence with excellent creative thinking skills which allows them to see a variety of solutions to a problem,” explained Goldie.

    “It’s important that HR understands dyslexia and communicates this to management throughout the company,” said Goldie. Adapting your workplace to make it dyslexic-friendly will only be successful if management are aware of how to best work with their staff.

    “It is vital that line managers throughout the company are given training about what to look for and how best to maximise the work performance of a dyslexic employee,” urged Goldie.


    One common struggle for dyslexics is taking in information that’s written down, revealed Goldie. “Managers should be trained to look for alternative ways of communicating the same information,” she said.

    According to Goldie, there are several ways to improve communication channels;

    • Give instructions both verbally and in a written format
    • Provide written instructions on coloured paper
    • Follow up instructions with an email
    • Check all information has been understood


    While you don’t want to isolate any employee on a personal level, Goldie says those with dyslexia often struggle to work in an open-plan office due to the variety of distractions.

    Try to allocate a quiet workplace “away from doors, phones and loud machinery,” she advised. “Preferably a quiet room for themselves or a bookable room for times when they need to concentrate on a specific task without any disruptions.”

    You’ve reached your limit – Register for free now for unlimited access

    To read the full story, just register for free now – GET STARTED HERE

    How to Support an Employee with DyslexiaDiscriminating against your employees with dyslexia has been against the law since the first disability discrimination legislation was introduced over 20 years ago. But it’s in the news today as a result of Starbucks employee Meseret Kumulchew winning her disability discrimination case.

    Starbucks did not make the workplace adjustments Ms Kumulchew needed in order for her to be able to do her job and now the coffee company may have to pay compensation. The ruling doesn’t set a new legal precedent, but it is an important reminder for all employers to check that you’re doing everything you can to support your employees with dyslexia.

    The law says that you MUST make Reasonable Adjustments to ensure that you are not discriminating against people you employ. But what would be a reasonable way to accommodate someone with dyslexia in your workplace?

    Top tips for employees with dyslexia

    According to the British Dyslexia Association around 1 in 10 people have dyslexia and require additional support with reading, writing and numbers. Fortunately there are a lot of simple, low-cost solutions that can be used to help your employees with dyslexia:

    • Changing the standard computer settings such as changing the colour background of Word documents to blue or yellow rather than white
    • Using text-to-speech software to have chunks of text read aloud
    • Add your top 50 or 100 most commonly misspelt words into Word’s autocorrect to instantly improve your writing
    • Installing a dyslexia-friendly font such as Dyslexie or Open-Dyslexic
    • Providing extra support with note-taking – a digital recording device
    • Ensuring important documents for meetings are distributed in advance and not just handed out in the meeting

    More help from Abilitynet

    Find out more about Reasonable Adjustments

    Read our guide to Reasonable Adjustments for more information about how employers can meet their legal responsibilities.

    People with dyslexia often have problems with reading and spelling. However, some adults with dyslexia are fluent readers but their dyslexia may show in their writing, short-term memory, organisational skills, maths abilities and the speed and way that they process information. All of these may impact on performance at work and the effect of dyslexia can worsen when an individual is experiencing stress.

    Some people with dyslexia have strengths in particular areas such as creativity; awareness of these strengths may benefit your organisation. Dyslexia may prevent staff from gaining qualifications, accessing training or applying for promotions. Making your organisation dyslexia friendly could reduce stress, staff turnover and sick leave. Adjustments made for staff with dyslexia can improve motivation, loyalty and efficiency.

    Your organisation should be able to demonstrate that it is making reasonable adjustments to meet the requirements of The Equality Act 2010. В This disability legislation ensures that employees with a disability are able to perform effectively in the workplace. В You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

    Legal requirements of employers:

    Employers have a duty to recognise dyslexia under the Equality Act 2010,if it is assessed as being a disability. This means that employers should ensure that disabled people are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments or support.

    The law states: ‘A person (P) has a disability if –

    (a) P has a physical or mental impairment, and

    (b) the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on P’s ability to carry out В В normal day-to-day activities.

    Not all people with dyslexia have impairments that have substantial or long term adverse effects and would not be seen as being disabled. This is often because they have compensated well and developed good coping strategies or are working in areas where their dyslexia may have little effect. В It is important to remember that circumstances can change if demands of a job change or coping strategies break down for any reason.

    Dyslexia Awareness sessions

    Making your organisation dyslexia friendly could reduce stress, staff turnover and sick leave, as well as improve motivation, loyalty and efficiency. Your organisation should also be able to demonstrate that it is making reasonable adjustments, to meet the requirements of disability legislation, so it’s important that you understand dyslexia. Our dyslexia awareness sessions offer an introduction to dyslexia and co-occurring difficulties and include practical exercises, with the aim of helping you to better support your employees.

    What a session will cover:

    • What dyslexia is

    • What other hidden disabilities might co-exist with dyslexia

    • How a dyslexic person may feel and the barriers they may face in the workplace

    • The positive aspects of dyslexia

    • Some guidance on how to identify difficulties and how to help an employee when dyslexia is causing a problem at work

    • The Equality Act and how it relates to dyslexia.

    We offer half and full day courses for up to 20 delegates. Bespoke awareness training, where we tailor the content to your organisation, is also available.

    For further information, or to arrange an awareness session, please contact our Coventry Office.

    Workplace Consultancy

    We offer workplace consultancy service to help you and your staff with all the implications of dyslexia in the workplace.

    Our focus during workplace consultancy is on identifying and developing strengths and the supportive management of weaknesses for each employee. We provide support to both employer and employee, including workplace coaching, which may involve help with organisation, report writing and presentations, alongside strategies for reasonable adjustments in line with the Equality Act 2010.

    What happens during a workplace consultation?

    • First of all we put together a picture of personal strengths and weaknesses, to help explain why some aspects of a job role may be causing problems; this will then lead to a discussion of possible accommodations or adjustments. В As much В information as possible about the individual’s dyslexia will inform the consultation along with the completion of workplace questionnaires by employers and employees and observations carried out in the workplace by one of our consultants.

    • Findings will then be considered in the context of the job role, the organisation, culture and environment. Strategies and adjustments will then be advised alongside recommendations for supporting the individual employee, which will be communicated in a written report.

    • Continued support and coping strategies training, coaching or awareness training for staff will be offered if deemed appropriate, or at the employer’s request. Solutions are bespoke and will be varied due to the different skills needed for job roles and individual profiles of dyslexia. Very often, simple adjustments and strategies will be all that is needed to improve an employee’s performance and confidence.


    There are two main common misconceptions: the first is that dyslexia’s chief characteristic is difficulty with reading. This is very often not the case. An adult with dyslexia may be slightly slow in reading but otherwise competent. The chief characteristics of dyslexia in adulthood are weaknesses in phonology, auditory short-term memory (working memory), and visual processing skills. These weaknesses stand in contrast to strong verbal reasoning abilities.

    The second is that dyspraxia in adulthood is characterised chiefly by poor motor coordination. This is also often not the case. Adults with dyspraxia often have improved their motor coordination skills over the years, and their chief difficulties in education and employment are more likely to be related to the cognitive aspects of dyspraxia, such as difficulty with sequencing and structuring information, organisational skills, time-keeping, and sometimes social skills.


    A patient reports low self-esteem, lack of confidence, feelings of shame and embarrassment, inability to study or work efficiently, panic at the thought of going to the office, poor concentration, memory lapses, periods of going blank in conversations, and difficulty in relating to people. Are they depressed? Stressed? Agoraphobic? Suffering an anxiety disorder? Perhaps, but perhaps at least part of their problem is that they have hitherto unidentified dyslexic and/or dyspraxic difficulties. Many people with these difficulties are highly intelligent and, consequently, the wide range of difficulties they encounter at university or in working life causes them to experience a variety of distressing emotions; and they may have to take time out of their studies or time off work because of stress.


    Specialist training by a tutor, along with IT support and reasonable adjustments in the college or workplace, can make an immense difference and, for example, could mean the difference between a person gaining or failing a degree and keeping or losing a job. First and foremost tutors teach strategies. They don’t attempt to make global improvements in, say, auditory short-term memory; rather they teach strategies focusing on the aspects of a person’s life which are being adversely affected by their difficulties. For a student, this would be study skills; for example, writing essays, reading for comprehension, or note-taking. For a white-collar working person, it would be analogous workplace skills; for example, contributing to meetings, taking minutes, or writing reports. Every working person with dyslexia — be they an actor, scaffolder, IT adviser, or taxi driver — would need to be taught strategies enabling them to use their strengths to compensate for their weaknesses and become more efficient in their daily and working lives. Tutors also discuss the emotional aspects of having dyslexia with their clients, helping them to gain more confidence and greater self-esteem.


    If a person is attending, or planning to attend, a university, it is very likely that university or government funds would be available to pay for whatever is needed. For people in employment, the situation is much more complex. Ideally, an employer would fund both a diagnostic assessment and a workplace needs assessment (as the workplace needs assessments provided free by the government’s Access to Work scheme are often far from adequate). If a person is neither at a university nor in employment, the best hope would be to try to identify a charity who could provide the appropriate funding. More advice about this can be sought from the British Dyslexia Association (Box 1).

    Box 1. Organisations providing help


    British Dyslexia Association; Tel: 0845 251 9002

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Around 2.9 million workers are affected by this learning difficulty, so it’s likely your business currently employs or will employ someone with dyslexia.

    For many, revealing a learning difficulty in a work setting will cause feelings of anxiety, stopping those affected asking for help. This means behaviours can often be misunderstood as lack of capacity, commitment or carelessness.

    However, those with dyslexia can bring great strengths to organisations which is why encouraging people to talk about it is vital. Richard Branson is one of the UKs leading entrepreneurs and also very public about his dyslexia.

    The most common signs range from finding it hard to formulate thoughts rapidly enough to join in conversations, to mixing up letters within words and words within sentences. Struggling to schedule work, missing deadlines and remembering and recording the contents of meetings and messages are also very common.

    Spotting the signs and encouraging an open conversation will ensure those living with dyslexia enjoy work feeling supported to achieve their full potential. To help, the wellbeing experts at CABA offer 8 ways in which leaders can support employees with dyslexia.

    Set up a mentoring scheme

    This helps the workforce feel more comfortable talking about difficulties in the workplace. It can also help to subtly encourage those that may be struggling to come forward and ask for help. A mentoring programme doesn’t need to just be for those with dyslexia either, it can offer tailored advice and support for anyone who may be suffering with anxiety, mental health or any other form of learning difficulty in the workplace.

    Create dyslexia friendly content

    If you recognise that an employee has dyslexia, use easily readable fonts such as Arial or Comic Sans. Don’t use small fonts and try to avoid italic where possible as this can cause letters to appear more crowded. Use headings to create structure and help employees navigate through content. Avoid background patterns or pictures that could easily act as a distraction from the text.

    Adapt your communication style

    You should ask your team member their preferred method of communication. For example, if the individual is a visual learner you could highlight important points using a mind map or flow chart. Ask the individual what works best to ensure you get the most out of them. Remember, everyone works in different ways.

    Training services

    The British Dyslexic Association and Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre offer a range of services to help employers support anyone experiencing work based learning difficulties. Make sure you set aside budget to invest in resources to help aid people with dyslexia.

    Raise awareness

    Many of the symptoms associated with dyslexia may seem like a hindrance, however, if harnessed correctly can be extremely beneficial to any business or workplace. Why not run a dyslexia awareness course for all staff to clarify any misconceptions? Use a qualified and experienced dyslexia specialist who has experience training and tutoring in the work environment.

    Alternative workspace

    Dyslexic workers can often find it hard to concentrate in a noisy and busy environment. Allow these employees to use an alternative workspace such as a meeting room to help them focus when they really need to. If this is not practical, then providing headphones or earplugs is a useful alternative.

    Encourage the use of calendars and alarms

    Using calendars and alarms can help to track time in a more visual way. In turn, this will help employees stay on schedule and meet deadlines. You could use diary invites to remind them of an important deadline and try providing desk calendars too.

    Diagnostic Assessment

    Finally, offering a diagnostic assessment for any staff that may be dyslexic will help you truly understand how best to support your team member. You can arrange a diagnostic assessment via the BDA.

    In some cases, CABA may be able to provide means tested financial assistance for those who are unable to fund a diagnostic assessment.

    Employers should create an open and honest environment to allow people to talk more freely about dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Organisations should accept that everyone works differently and must look to adapt to individual needs.

    This will not just help the individual but the whole organisation. After all, employees are more likely to perform and be more productive when they have the right support.

    Evidence-based solutions for individuals, employers and professionals

    01273 890502 | [email protected]

    Access to Work are part of the DWP (Government Department for Work and Pensions). Their role is to prevent people with disabilities from being unemployed.

    If you are struggling with dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD and it is affecting your work, you can call them for help. They can make recommendations straight away on the phone, and point you in the right direction. Usually, however, they send a Work Based Assessor to see you at work. The job of the Work Based Assessor is to work out which support options would make a difference to your work performance, and help you succeed in your job. Support options can be software, technological aids, training, mediation or coaching.

    The Work Based Assessor will write a report and send you three quotes for each support option. In most cases, your employer has to pay for the support. You will need to involve your manager from the start. If you are self employed, it is possible that Access to Work will pay for your support. But they are best placed to advise on this! Call them on 0800 121 7479.

    If you are not happy with the companies that the report recommends, you can chose your own. Provided it is a company that Access to Work know to be reputable it is usually okay to switch.

    Access to Work recommend and fund Genius in Training videos, as well as our coaching programmes. You can mention it to your advisor and they will tell you how best to go about it. Genius Within provide coaching through Access to Work nationally. If you’re stuck please feel free to give us a buzz and we can talk you through the process.

    Access to Work is a fantastic service, identified in a recent Government review as being great value for money for the British taxpayer. The support that is provided helps over 3000 dyslexics a year to:

    • improve your success at work
    • meet targets and deadlines
    • overcome difficulties with managers and team members
    • communicate with employers about what you need to do your job well
    • move forward in your career

    Why not give them a call on 0800 121 7479 and see how they can help you.

    Follow the author of this article

    Follow the topics within this article

    T his week, a former employee actually got one up on high street coffee giant Starbucks. Meseret Kumulchew won a discrimination case against the chain, after they accused her of falsifying documents. In fact, she made mistakes and misread numbers because of her dyslexia.

    I was surprised by my own reaction to the story. I’m usually pretty hard of heart when it comes to these kind of thing: judgmental and ready to believe the worst. But this woman’s experience really struck a nerve.

    Struggling with stuff that other people find easy is a painful experience, and one that I know all too well. I hadn’t realised how much deeply buried emotion I was still carrying about being dyslexic until I found myself in tears over this story.

    I was diagnosed with dyslexia aged six. My parents couldn’t understand why my precocious nature and impressive vocabulary weren’t translating in to my schoolwork. I was struggling desperately with learning to read, which seems mad now that I live in a flat filled hundreds of books.

    It was explained to me at the time that my dyslexia made my brain work a lot faster than my hands, meaning that letters or words got skipped, so when I spoke I sounded bright, but my written work didn’t reflect that.

    I asked how you spelled dyslexia. They laughed.

    T hat’s the thing about any disability – and trust me, I feel fraudulent using the word, but that’s technically what it is – you don’t want to be any different from anyone else. But you are. I can’t instinctively tell my left from my right, tell the time or pick up a typo – things that have made life harder in every job I’ve ever had, whether waitressing or writing.

    I’ve spent my whole career trying to hide the fact that I have a learning disability, but I’m done with that. Dyslexia doesn’t mean I’m stupid, or that there’s anything wrong with me. It just means that I need things to be handled a little differently, and I’m through with feeling ashamed.

    B ut it isn’t easy. I know how hard it is to admit to being dyslexic at work, because there are still such misconceptions about it.

    “Dyslexia is just a middle class euphemism for thick”, I’ve been told hundreds of times.

    “You can’t be dyslexic, you love reading”; “How can you do an English degree if you’re dyslexic?”; “You’re not seriously telling me you’re a professional writer and dyslexic?”

    I hear it all the time. Dyslexia is such a commonly diagnosed learning difficulty, it’s not considered a serious problem (it’s estimated that one in 10 people has it to some degree, although many have not been formally diagnosed). But just because lots of people have it, doesn’t mean it’s easy.

    I ‘ll be honest: telling your boss that you have dyslexia sucks, there’s no way to sugar coat that.

    W henever I’ve mentioned it to someone I’m working for, I’ve seen their face fall. As soon as you say the word, they think they’ve been lumbered with someone who can’t read, or spell. In truth I’m perfectly capable of both, if I have the right support – but having that support is essential. Because of the way my brain works I find it impossible to write or input data if there’s a conversation going on next to me. I’ll type what I’m hearing; not what I’m thinking.

    As Kumulchew said: “I’ll struggle, but don’t worry, help me and I’ll get there in my own time.”

    O f course, there are easy ways to deal with it – all I need to do is listen to classical music and I’m sorted. But I’ve worked in offices that forbid headphones and were infuriated by my insistence on using them. These little changes are called “reasonable adjustments” – things that make offices easier for people whose minds work differently.

    But I’m of the generation who graduated into a jobless world and took internships that made the Hunger Games look like a breeze. Being the girl who needs “reasonable adjustments” is pretty unlikely to make you the girl who gets hired at the end of the internship, however minor those tweaks are.

    T he British Dyslexic Association says that your employer should be willing to make such allowances for you. Some of those adjustments – such as having the facility to print things if you find it easier to proof read on paper; using spell-check on the computer; working somewhere quiet’ using larger fonts.

    B ut whatever your requirements are, it’s important to remember that you’re not being difficult and you’re not making a fuss. You’re just making a sensible choice to equip yourself to do the best work possible, which is something that you have every right to do (and that your employer should want you to).

    As women in the work place we’re far too willing to apologise – for having to leave on time to do the school run, for taking a day off with period pains, for maternity leave. And when you’re a dyslexic woman who needs special resources or allowances? It’s just another bloody thing to feel guilty about.

    I was told as a child that, by the time I was an adult, my dyslexia wouldn’t really affect me anymore. Sadly that’s turned out to be untrue.

    During a brief and deeply unsuccessful attempt at working in PR, I was screamed at for not getting through enough phone calls in a day. When I tried to explain that copying phone numbers from a screen and dialling them takes me a lot longer because I’m dyslexic, the boss looked at me like I was a backwards six-year-old who’d peed herself.

    When I arrived on a recent freelance job and realised the computer didn’t have spell check installed, I almost had a panic attack. A company I once worked for made me do data entry sitting in a corridor when I said I was struggling with the noise levels.

    I f I sound gloomy about life with dyslexia, I don’t mean to. It’s just a bit like walking around with a pebble in your shoe all day. It’s there, it’s irritating, but you try not to let it spoil things.

    T he reality is that I work in an industry where being able to spell is really important. It’s probably the worst career I could have chosen. But I’m a writer at heart, and I refuse to be defeated by the fact that I couldn’t win a spelling bee.

    A few years ago, I had a job interview with a well-known parenting website they didn’t warn me that there would be a sub-editing test. I was handed an article riddled with typos, a pen and twenty minutes to correct it. I knew as soon as they gave it to me that I wouldn’t get the job. I did my best, but without the help of Microsoft Office’s wiggly red line, or a dictionary, there was just no way I could spot a typo.

    I kept it together long enough to get out of the interview before I burst into tears. Afterwards I couldn’t shake the feeling this was painfully unfair. I would have been good at that job. But because my mind doesn’t work like other people’s, I was never going to get the chance.

    S ince then I’ve resolved to be more honest about my dyslexia and to allow people to do the right thing when I tell them. So yes, I’ve seen editor’s faces fall when I tell them, assuming that I’ll be a poor proof-reader or an inept writer. But then that’s my chance to prove them wrong.

    Campaigners say tribunal finding in favour of Meseret Kumulchew highlights duty to make allowances for dyslexic staff

    Meseret Kumulchew speaking to the BBC. Photograph: BBC

    Meseret Kumulchew speaking to the BBC. Photograph: BBC

    Starbucks has lost a disability discrimination case after it wrongly accused a dyslexic employee of falsifying documents when she had simply misread numbers she was responsible for recording.

    Campaigners say the ruling highlights the duty of all employers to make allowances for staff with dyslexia.

    In December, an employment tribunal found that Starbucks had victimised Meseret Kumulchew after she inaccurately recorded the water and fridge temperatures as part of her duties as a supervisor at Starbucks in Clapham, south-west London.

    The tribunal heard that Starbucks accused Kumulchew of falsifying the recordings, reduced her responsibilities and ordered her to retrain.

    A separate hearing to determine how much compensation Starbucks should pay will be held in the next few weeks.

    Kumulchew, who is still employed by Starbucks, said she had made her bosses aware of her dyslexia, and the accusation of falsifying numbers had made her want to take her own life.

    She told the BBC: “There was a point that I wanted to commit suicide. I am not a fraud. The name fraud itself shouldn’t exist for me. It’s quite serious.

    “I nearly ended my life. But I had to think of my kids. I know I’m not a fraud. I just made a mistake.”

    The tribunal found that Starbucks had failed to make reasonable adjustments for Kumulchew’s reading difficulties under the 2010 Equality Act, which replaced the Disability Act. It said the company showed little or no understanding of equality issues.

    The legislation is vague on whether dyslexia, a condition that affects one in 10 people, constitutes a disability. It defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on … normal day-to-day activities”. It goes on to suggest that under stressful conditions people with dyslexia can be seen to suffer such an impairment.

    Kate Saunders, the chief executive of the British Dyslexia Association, said Kumulchew’s plight highlighted a common problem. “All organisations must make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities, including dyslexia, under the Equality Act 2010. They should have appropriate policies in place and make sure these are movements to avoid discrimination, including in the recruitment process, the work environment and colleague reactions,” she said.

    “Sadly our national helpline receives numerous calls from adults who are facing serious problems and discrimination in the workplace. Many have found themselves very emotional, stressed, anxious and feeling as if they have nowhere else to turn. These feelings, which with the right support and awareness could easily be avoided, can lead to time off work and loss of productivity. People with dyslexia can bring unique skills to an employer and they should be highly sought after.”

    Kumulchew urged Starbucks to follow its own approach to training baristas in making adjustments for her. “Starbucks says ‘do, show and tell’. That works brilliantly for me,” she said. “Visual, physical and reading, they all go together. If you miss one of them, I’m lost. I’ll struggle, don’t worry, help me, but I’ll get there in my own speed, but I won’t affect your business because [for] every customer I’ll roll out the red carpet. I want to apply Starbucks’ mission statement and the training I [was] given to the full. I love my job.”

    She added: “They [Starbucks] could make life easier. Give me time to backtrack or give me another person to help. Eventually it will become routine. All the policy is in small writing [so] make it bigger [so] it doesn’t muddle up my brain to digest.”

    Starbucks said it could not discuss the case as it was still in negotiation with Kumulchew, but said it was committed to having a “diverse and inclusive workforce”.

    In a statement it said: “We have been working with the British Dyslexia Association on improving the support we provide to our employees, and did so concerning Meseret Kumulchew in 2015.

    “We recognise however that we need to do more, which is why we are investigating what additional support we can provide.”

    The advocacy group Dyslexia Action said Kumulchew’s courage in pursuing the case had set an example for others.

    Its chief executive, Stephen Hall, said: “Without the correct support, people with dyslexia can suffer a huge loss of confidence and low self-esteem. This is a great shame as those with dyslexia have much to offer in the workplace. Many people with dyslexia work very differently from conventional methods, but employers stand to gain great benefit from the different perspective that this brings and ability to think outside the box.”

    Dr Sylvia Moody, Practitioner Psychologist

    Please note: The term specific performance difficulties is the general term used in a workplace context to denote dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD.


    Dyslexia is often regarded simply as a difficulty with reading and writing, but in fact these literacy difficulties are ‘surface symptoms’ of weaknesses in more fundamental cognitive abilities, i.e. short-term memory, visual processing, phonology. The literacy (and numeracy) difficulties associated with these weaknesses may be severe and obvious; or they may be more subtle, manifesting themselves in general slowness rather than inaccuracy in performing workplace tasks.

    Among the difficulties most often reported are:

    • reading quickly with good comprehension
    • writing memos, emails, letters and reports
    • being accurate with numbers
    • following and remembering written and spoken instructions
    • remembering telephone numbers and messages
    • formulating thoughts rapidly enough to take part in discussions
    • note-taking
    • filing and looking up entries in directories or dictionaries
    • meeting deadlines.


    The term ‘dyspraxia’ denotes difficulties with co-ordinating movement and judging distance, space and time. General organisational skills and social skills are often also affected.

    Workplace difficulties include:

    • presenting written work in a neat manner
    • analysing complex tables of figures or diagrams
    • using office equipment, e.g., calculator, photocopier
    • getting lost even in familiar surroundings
    • timekeeping
    • organising work schedules
    • keeping papers in order.

    Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

    ADHD is characterised by poor concentration, distractibility and procrastination. Impulsivity and physical/cognitive restlessness are often also evident.

    People with ADHD will find it hard to work in a noisy or busy environment, e.g., an open-plan office and they may have difficulty following set procedures. They will have difficulty in sitting still and concentrating for long periods and so will find meetings difficult. Their social skills may be poor: they may talk in an unfocused way and be inclined to interrupt people, sometimes blurting out irrelevant or inappropriate remarks. They may also be prone to sudden mood swings and may suffer anxiety or depression.

    Difficult emotions

    By the time people with the above problems reach adulthood they may have been struggling for many years with difficulties which have never been recognised or understood. In such cases the original difficulties are likely to be bound up with a constellation of unpleasant, and perhaps debilitating, emotions: anger, confusion, embarrassment, anxiety, depression. Confidence and self-esteem will also be low.

    Social interactions

    People whose problems have not been recognised are a mystery not only to themselves, but also to those for whom, and with whom, they work. They may be withdrawn and seem unwilling to pull their weight, or they may be oversensitive and aggressive. In general such employees are often difficult to ‘place’: they seem ambitious to progress in their career but are constantly hindered by inefficiency and a baffling inertia.

    Positive aspects of specific performance difficulties

    People with these difficulties are often motivated to succeed in their work despite their difficulties. They know the meaning of hard work, long hours and determination. They may excel in lateral thinking, and be creative and innovative. They often have good powers of visualisation, excellent practical skills, and an untaught intuitive understanding of how systems work.

    Diagnostic assessment

    A diagnostic assessment should be arranged through one of the main advice organisations or with a private practitioner who has relevant qualifications. A referral to a hospital psychology department is not recommended.

    Equality Act

    If a dyslexic person’s difficulties are severe enough to impede his/her efficiency in everyday activities, then s/he may be covered by the Equality Act. The employer would then be obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to reduce or remove any substantial disadvantage caused to that person by any of the employment arrangements in force.

    For example, care would need to be taken that the employee was not unfairly disadvantaged in such things as: making a job application, interviews, proficiency tests, terms of employment, promotion, benefits, transfer or training opportunities, and dismissal or redundancy procedures. It is also usually appropriate to commission a workplace needs assessment to identify the type and level of support (in the form of skills training, IT support and reasonable adjustments ) that would be useful to the employee in his/her particular job.

    Workplace needs assessment

    This can be arranged either through the government’s Access to Work scheme or with a private practitioner or organisation specialising in workplace dyslexia consultancy. Please note that Access to Work assessors may not be experts in dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD and may not provide comprehensive recommendations or offer a consultancy service to the employer on reasonable adjustments.

    Sources of information

    For general advice, help and information about dyslexia:

    British Dyslexia Association 0845 251 9002

    Books which explain how dyslexia and associated difficulties affect working life:

    Dyslexia: How to Survive and Succeed at Work by Sylvia Moody. Random House.

    Dyslexia in the Workplace: An Introductory Guide by Sylvia Moody and Diana Bartlett. Wiley-Blackwell.

    For general advice, help and information about dyspraxia:

    Dyspraxia Foundation 01462 459 986

    Dyspraxia UK 01795 531 998

    The following books may be useful:

    Living with Dyspraxia by M. Colley. Jessica Kingsley.

    That’s the Way I Think – dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD explained. David Grant.

    David Fulton Books.

    For general advice, help and information about ADHD:

    Simply Well Being 020 8099 7671

    The following books may be useful:

    How to Succeed in Employment with Specific Learning Difficulties.

    Amanda Kirby. Souvenir Press.

    Smart but Stuck: Emotions in Teens and Adults with ADHD. Thomas E Browne.

    Jossey Bass / Wiley.

    Dr Sylvia Moody
    Practitioner Psychologist
    [email protected]

    © Sylvia Moody. This article may be reproduced with due attribution of authorship.

    Studying in middle school is more complicated for all kids, with different teachers scheduling tests at different times. Plus, the material is harder. These tips can help you make the process less challenging for your child with dyslexia.

    1. Figure out how much time he needs to study.

    Kids with dyslexia often take more time to study than their peers. Ongoing issues with decoding may slow your child down. If he has trouble with working memory or reading comprehension, he may need more practice and repetition to remember concepts and information.

    Talk to your child about how much time he thinks he needs to prepare for the test. Then work together to create a realistic study schedule. If he needs breaks during studying sessions, factor them in. Pushing beyond his limits may only make him frustrated, less productive and more anxious about the test.

    2. Bring in visual elements.

    Memorizing facts solely by reading them can be hard for kids with dyslexia. Adding a visual element to the study process can help.

    Let’s say your child has a unit test on the solar system or the cycle of the oceans. He could make a PowerPoint presentation of the key facts to study from or a slideshow with narration. For a history test, he could create a visual timeline of the main events. Working with visuals can help him connect with the material on a deeper level.

    Stay informed

    Avoid COVID Slide with tips and tools designed to help your child return to the classroom.

    3. Add images to flashcards.

    Making flashcards that include images can help your child remember information. And there are many ways he can do it. For instance, he can make digital flashcards using an app. He can also cut and paste images he finds online on index cards, or draw them himself.

    Creating the cards is just another way for him to work with the material. The simple act of writing the notes can reinforce the concepts or information. So can the process of looking for images that represent the concepts.

    4. Prepare for short-answer tests in advance.

    Dyslexia can often impact writing. If that’s the case with your child, short-answer test questions might be hard—and stressful. Have your child ask the teacher what material will be covered on the test. Then, help your child come up with practice questions, and have him practice writing short answers.

    Doing that will help reinforce the information. It can also make him more comfortable with the format and more confident in his ability to handle it on test day.

    5. Have him read or play notes aloud.

    Kids with dyslexia often use multiple senses when they learn to read. That approach can also help when they study. Hearing or speaking information can make it easier to take it in, process it, and remember it.

    When your child is studying, have him read aloud relevant sections from the textbook or from the class notes. He might also want to record information and then play it back. He could also ask a parent or a study group member to make the recording of notes if there’s a lot of text.

    6. Try software to help organize study notes.

    Graphic organizers are a great tool to help structure kids’ writing, but they can also help kids with dyslexia put notes into a format that’s easier to read. For instance, your child could use graphic organizing software to create visual notes.

    Some programs will let him open and close the notes so he can quiz himself. And some offer text-to-speech features that allow him to hear his notes as well as read them. Explore a list of software programs for kids with reading issues.

    7. Encourage him to join a study group.

    Joining or forming a study group, or just studying with a friend, would let your child talk through his notes, figure out if he missed something, and share his ideas. This might be more helpful than studying notes on his own. Plus, the social aspect can make the process more fun and less frustrating. Since kids with dyslexia often need more repetition, however, he’ll probably have to review on his own, too.

    8. Remind him to ask about the directions.

    Your child may be tempted to skip reading the test directions as a way to avoid another reading task. He may think he already knows what to do, only to find out that the test required something else. Have your child talk to the teacher in advance about what format the test will be in and what the instructions will be.


    About the Author

    About the Author

    has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, with a focus on parenting.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Elizabeth Babbin, EdD

    is an instructional specialist at Lower Macungie Middle School in Macungie, Pennsylvania.

    Did you find this helpful?

    Recommended for you

    Stay informed

    Sign up for weekly emails containing helpful resources for you and your family.

    By signing up, you acknowledge that you reside in the United States and are at least 13 years old, and agree that you’ve read the Terms and Conditions. does not market to or offer services to individuals in the European Union.

    Copyright © 2014–2020 Understood For All Inc. All rights reserved. “Understood” and related logos are trademarks of Understood For All Inc. and are used with permission. This website provides information of a general nature and is designed for information and educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice. Understood is a nonprofit initiative. Understood does not and will not take money from pharmaceutical companies. We do not market to or offer services to individuals in the European Union. For more information, please review the Terms and Conditions.

    “Understood” as used above includes Understood For All Inc., and their officers, affiliates, parents, and related entities, and their respective employees, contractors, or other personnel.


    graphic organizer:

    Share 8 Study Tips to Help Middle-Schoolers With Dyslexia

    Coming soon Google Classroom

    Share 8 Study Tips to Help Middle-Schoolers With Dyslexia

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Like many creative people, I have a learning disability. Specifically, I have dyslexia, which means I cannot make out the differences between and among the sounds of letters in the alphabet. As a result, spelling is nearly impossible and pronouncing words correctly is difficult at best. So, writing and reading aloud are near-disasters for me.

    I’m hardly alone: According to Sally Shaywitz, an M.D. and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, dyslexia is very common, affecting about 20 percent of the population and 80-to-90 percent of those with learning disabilities. People who have dyslexia struggle with reading, spelling, and learning a second language.

    Going back to my own experience, I’d add that even everyday situations most people wouldn’t blink an eye at used to inspire outright anxiety in me, like filling out a form at a doctor’s office or being asked at a meeting to take notes on a white board. As a child, I found the prospect of having to speak up or read aloud in class terrifying.

    For a long time, I was ashamed, and hid my dyslexia from everyone I knew. Even with a lot of tutoring, I barely passed and I was always quiet — the “silent type,” because I was afraid of sounding stupid.

    But flash-forward to today, when people who know me would probably be surprised to hear these things about my past. In fact, in 2011, McGraw-Hill published One Simple Idea, my best-selling book, which has more than 500 five-star reviews on Amazon. I have 20 patents in my name. And, since 2013, I’ve written online about inventing for Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes and spoken multiple times internationally, as well as begun teaching my first college course.

    The link between dyslexia and entrepreneurship. Yes, there is one.

    How can this be? Actually, I achieved success as an independent inventor early on, in my 20s, in part because I genuinely believed no one would hire me.

    What I didn’t know was that a strong link had been established between dyslexia and entrepreneurship. For example, Shark Tank television stars Daymond John, Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O’Leary have all opened up about their respective experiences with the disorder. In a recent post on LinkedIn, O’Leary described his condition as debilitating and revealed that as a child, he was falling behind in grade school until an educator convinced him that his dyslexia was in fact a superpower.

    “Dyslexia doesn’t really retard learning; it just makes the incumbent tools in school useless to you,” O’Leary explained. “You have to learn how to deal with what dyslexia does. Once I had that solved, a very interesting acceleration occurred. You find in business today all kinds of founders of companies with a really bad case of dyslexia.”

    To name a few: Richard Branson, Henry Ford and IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad. Yes, each has been affected by dyslexia. So obviously, learning disabilities don’t necessarily hold people back. Even individuals with ADHD, scientific research has shown, may be able to think more creatively than the general population.

    I have dyslexia, yet I overcame my fear. Here’s how you can too.

    1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Everyone needs help. The sooner you accept your weaknesses, the better. When I was an independent inventor, my wife Janice helped me write the letters I sent to potential licensees, as well as my marketing copy. My longtime employee James Shehan, whom I still work with, helped me fill out my provisional patent applications and file them with the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

    When I needed to write down a telephone number I’d heard over the phone, Shehan would listen in so that I could get it right.

    My business partner Andrew Krauss, meanwhile, has handled the day-to-day details for our coaching company inventRight, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. And to write the first edition of One Simple Idea, I hired a ghostwriter named Colleen Sell. My daughter Madeleine has been ghostwriting for me ever since.

    2. Take great notes.

    Note-taking is essential for me, because notes keep me on track, keep me organized and help me stay on top of projects every day. If I know what I’m supposed to do, I do it. Being able to record notes on my iPhone has been a lifesaver.

    3. Make use of the latest tools and technologies.

    My iPhone has also made writing much easier. I speak into my phone, and up pops a transcript. Magic! Ditto for Spellcheck.I still need help for writing. But modern technologies have facilitated my use of communications.

    4. Find your passion.

    Once I began speaking about inventing and licensing, I started worrying less about making a mistake. If you truly care about your audience and offer helpful information, people won’t care if you make a mistake — and neither will you.

    Even though I know my material like the back of my hand, I still arrive at speaking events early to greet people and give them my full attention. I shake people’s hands, look them in the eye, give a warm smile. Suddenly, they’re not strangers anymore, and I’m less nervous. Practice and enthusiasm go a long way.

    5. Don’t be afraid of failure.

    You only fail if you quit. So, decide not to quit. This is simple, but true. Most things in life take longer than you expect. Be the last person standing. Say yes even when you’re not fully sure you know what you’re doing. Trust that you will figure it out.

    6. Truly care about other people.

    If you truly care about others, they will support you. I would be nowhere without the support of my community, which has rallied behind me and encouraged me to keep sharing my perspective.

    My disability allowed me to find workarounds for obstacles in my everyday life. And that’s been a huge asset. Because perspective is everything. Today, I’m no longer hiding. I’m finally proud to be different. It’s only taken 50 years for that to be true! So, don’t hold off 50 years; don’t wait to find your own voice.

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia


    How Martin Searle Solictiors lifted a suspension for an employee with dyslexia and agreed a range of reasonable adjustments.

    The situation

    Wendy works as a Specialist Nurse at an NHS Trust.

    For most of her adult life she has had difficulties with reading, writing, information processing and organisation.

    In May 2013 she informed her manager that she thought she might be dyslexic. Angela disbelieved her and told her she thought she was “making excuses” and that if Wendy really did have dyslexia, she should provide evidence confirming this.

    Angela started to become unduly critical of Wendy and raised unnecessary concerns about the standard of her work and encouraged others to complain about Wendy’s work. Angela cancelled one-to-ones, and when meetings did take place she told Wendy to change the minutes to take out her requests for more support at work. Angela told Wendy that she should be grateful for the steps that had been taken to help her. Wendy became increasingly exasperated; there was nothing she could do right and she felt marginalised.

    Things came to a head when Angela began a formal capability procedure against Wendy, alleging 15 instances of poor performance. Wendy went off sick with stress and upon her return to work, Angela suspended her.

    Wendy was suspended for over 8 months while the investigation into her capability continued. The HR Advisor gave Wendy very little information about what was happening – until eventually Wendy received an investigation report which recommended her dismissal, and it attached a number of statements which demonstrated that Angela had told her colleagues that she had “serious mental health problems”. It then invited her to a meeting to defend her position.

    Wendy was afraid of being dismissed and she was unsure where to turn. She wanted the Trust to listen to her and accommodate her dyslexia so that she could return to work and do her job.

    What Martin Searle Solicitors did

    Wendy got in touch with our specialist employment lawyers in Gatwick & Crawley.

    We advised Wendy to address these capability allegations by raising a grievance about her various possible claims of disability discrimination.

    This set out examples of the bullying and various forms of disability discrimination and the affect this was having on Wendy.

    We also wrote to Wendy’s employer pointing out that they had not complied with the ACAS Code of Practice, their own policies, or the Equality Act 2010. We made it clear to the Trust that they could not dismiss Wendy fairly or impose any sanctions due to their failure to make reasonable adjustments.

    The result

    The Chief Executive of the Trust held a capability meeting with Wendy and also considered her grievance. He stopped the capability procedure, lifted Wendy’s suspension and agreed to put in place a range of adjustments in a very short space of time.

    Wendy returned to work under a new manager who was happy to make adjustments for her. Her allegations of bullying continue to be investigated.

    Whether you’re applying for a new job, or want to raise awareness about dyslexia at work, we can help.

    Some quick guides on dyslexia at work

    For an introduction to dyslexia and the workplace, have a look at some of our leaflets. Those of particular interest may be:

    You can see all of our publications here.

    Why bring it up?

    You don’t have to tell your employer about your dyslexia, either on your job application or when you begin work.

    Often though, this can hold you back. Your employer is required to support you by putting reasonable adjustments in place, and can apply for funding to help you adjust.

    Mentioning dyslexia in your application, or at interview, is also a good way to show your positive attitude. Back it up by talking about your strengths, showing how you’ve handled it in the past, and your potential employer will get a good impression of your ability.

    Know your rights

    Legally, dyslexia is a disability.

    Under the Equalities Act it is unlawful for an employer to treat you less favourably because of your dyslexia.

    If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can take action. It’s best to try and resolve any dispute within your organisation first, but if that doesn’t work you can take your case to an Employment Tribunal.


    Throughout your working life you may notice dyslexia having both negative and positive impacts as you navigate the world of work and make sense of how your strengths and challenges shape your career choices.

    The following links, downloads and opportunities may be of interest in helping you with your career planning and development:

    Dyslexia Scotland’s leaflets on Applications and Interviews.

    Our Adult Network events are a great way to connect with others and share experiences.

    Our resource library contains a range of useful guides, studies and texts relating to dyslexia and work and learning. The resource library is accessible through our membership scheme; from £10 per year for individuals. Link here to join.

    If you get stuck or annoyed by essay writing then you’ve come to the right place. I’m going to show you how to write a perfectly structured essay. Writing like this is the educational standard. You’ll get higher marks for doing it this way.

    The easiest way to write any essay is to break it down into chunks. This method also helps make research as efficient and painless as possible. This is great as research is generally more boring than watching grey paint dry in a small cottage on the Isle of Man.

    When essay writing the most important thing is to stay focused. You don’t want to wander off and start writing irrelevant material.

    Before you start any essay check with your teacher/lecturer they want it written this way. At the end of the day always find out what the teacher wants you to do. They are the ones doing the marking.

    How to Support an Employee with Dyslexia

    Main body:

    Ok to start with an essay has three parts an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. Let’s forget about the introduction and the conclusion for the time being. They’re easy; we’ll do them at the end.

    The first part you want to consider is the main body. This is where all the research information and your discussion will go. Generally for essay writing at school or university you will be given the title to work from.

    You should look at the title as the question to be answered or main point of discussion. The title needs to be included in every paragraph to show you stuck to the main point.

    When researching for an essay you want to keep the title in mind at all times. Let say your essay needs to be 1500 words this will break down into roughly 6 or 7 paragraphs in the main body. You need 6 or 7 main points that answer or discuss the title.

    Now look at the main points and put them into a logical order in relation to the title. You can then build it one paragraph at a time. Each main point is going to be made into a paragraph.

    Building a paragraph:

    Take the first of your main points and make it into a statement related to the title of the essay. This will be the first line of the paragraph. Click here if you need help structuring a sentence.

    After you make your statement the most essential part of essay writing is to give evidence from your research to back it up. Something that shows you’ve done the research. It may be an experimental study or whatever your course or class requires.

    You need to make sure the title of the essay is woven into each paragraph. You don’t have to use the exact words, but it needs to be in there somewhere. This is to show you have stuck to answering the title of the essay and not wandered off the point.

    Then you can discuss, interpret or add your opinion to the paragraph. This however will greatly depend on what is required of you from your teacher/lecturer. This is why to write the perfect essay you must make sure you know exactly what the teacher wants.

    Then you simply repeat this process to give you six paragraphs, which make up the main body of the essay.

    Introduction and conclusion:

    So now the main body of your essay is complete and the hard work is done. All you need to do now is the introduction and the conclusion. These two parts are going to be almost mirror images of each other.

    For the introduction you’re telling the reader what is going to be in the main body. To do this you tell them about the original 6 or 7 main points, which were the basis for your paragraphs. This of course, as I’m sure you know by now, needs to be done in relation to the title. An introduction done like this gives an overview of what is found in the main body.

    The conclusion is the same as this except the other way around. You’re summing up what you found out about each of your main points in relation to the title. Remember keep the title in every paragraph. It keeps you glued to the main point and you’ll get higher marks.

    A good guide for a 1500 word essay is to make the main body 1200 words, 150 for the introduction and 150 for the conclusion. Generally there is a 10% above or below margin of error but check with your teacher.


    Essay writing by breaking it down into small pieces is not a new idea. However this is the most effective way to handle any large problem. Click here if you need help with organisation.

    Breaking an essay down into chunks is a great way to keep focused, stress free and save time. Having the 6 or 7 main points to work from will make your research easier.

    When essay writing the most important thing to remember is always answer the question. You must always keep the title in mind at all times. Click here for more writing help.

    How to Support an Employee with DyslexiaA. Depending on what kind of help you are seeking and where you live, there are many different types of resources available to help adults with dyslexia. In the United States, it’s been estimated that 3 out of 4 children are not being identified in school; among adults, that number is probably higher.

    Should I Be Formally Assessed?

    Being formally identified as an adult may be necessary for formally requesting job accommodations, but with the greater availability of low-cost or even free resources for text to speech, spelling, and grammar correction, many adults in the workplace opt to use these resources as well as asking friends or colleagues to help with tasks such as proofreading when time and accuracy are at a premium.

    Workplaces May Not Be Dyslexia-Friendly

    The practical dilemma in the workplace is that there can be many aspects of the work environment (hiring, performance review, etc.) that are poorly designed for the wide diversity of employees, dyslexics included. There are ADA (Americans for Disability Act) protections against discrimination in the workplace, but the criteria less clear than in the setting of schools and employers are only required to provide “reasonable accommodation.”

    ** One great general resource for disability in the workplace is the Job Accommodation Network – they also have live chat and phone support: 1-800-526-7234.

    Am I Protected from Workplace Discrimination? What Accommodations or Assistive Technology Might I Have Access to? From the

    From the EEOC: “An applicant with a disability, like all other applicants, must be able to meet the employer’s requirements for the job, such as education, training, employment experience, skills, or licenses. In addition, an applicant with a disability must be able to perform the “essential functions” of the job the fundamental duties either on her own or with the help of “reasonable accommodation.”

    However, an employer does not have to provide a reasonable accommodation that will cause “undue hardship,” which is significant difficulty or expense.” Within a large corporation, an employee has the option of contacting a human resources or diversity professional. Some companies have established protocols for requesting accommodations – such a dual screens, assistive technology training, and text-to-speech programs, however, many may not .

    HR and diversity professionals are also employed by the employer which may limit what types of advice or help they can give. Outside of the company, job or executive coaches can also provide assistance, but they may also be expensive and not covered by insurance or your employer.

    On a practical basis, employees have to ‘pick and choose’ what policies and practices they may want to try an accommodate or change. In our past surveys of adults with dyslexia in the workplace, the overwhelming majority chose to disclose only to friends or peers at work rather than a manager or HR professional. Some expressed their concern that disclosure could negatively affect them on, for instance, later performance review.

    What if I am currently unemployed?

    In the US, States have vocational rehabilitation counselors who may be helpful in suggesting resources. Vocational rehabilition is a state government-supported services that helps individuals with disabilities with employment search. In the United Kingdom, the British Dyslexia Association has a variety of resources available for job seekers.

    Are there free or low-cost resources available to help me with reading and writing ?

    One great resource to find help near you is the National Literacy Directory. You can check what you want help with – for instance reading and writing, English language, help with computers or technology, or high school equivalency) and also state your location. In the US, other resources for adults include tutoring from the non-profit Pro-Literacy and many Community Colleges and Universities have either free or low-cost programs to help with tutoring. If you are enrolled in a class at college and are having trouble, you may be able to be referred to the disability office for free testing that may qualify you for accommodations. In the UK, there is the

    If you are enrolled in a class at college and are having trouble, you may be able to be referred to the disability office for free testing that may qualify you for accommodations. In the UK, there is the Dyslexia Adult Network.

    Other questions? Contact us at: [email protected]

    Kumulchew v Starbucks Coffee Company UK Ltd and ors

    In this first instance decision the ET found that the respondent had failed to make reasonable adjustments for the claimant’s disability and had therefore discriminated against her because of the impact of her dyslexia, which included her ability to carry out her day to day duties at work and engage in disciplinary proceedings.

    The claimant was a supervisor at a branch of Starbucks and was responsible for taking the temperature of fridges and water at specific times and entering the results in a duty roster. She was accused of falsifying the documents after erroneously entering incorrect information and thereafter subjected to disciplinary proceedings for which she was given a final written warning, which was later reduced to a written warning. A further detriment to the claimant was that she was given fewer duties at her branch and was informed that she would need to retrain which, she asserted, left her feeling suicidal.

    The claimant issued claims against her employer and two senior staff members for breaches of The Equality Act 2010. The claimant’s case in part related to claims of sex discrimination and victimisation regarding the manner in which she was treated by a fellow employee and how her sex discrimination complaints were dealt with. The claimant also claimed discrimination either directly because of, or arising, from her dyslexia.

    The claimant pleaded that as a consequence of raising grievances asserting sexual harassment and gender based discrimination against a colleague, her employer and its managers caused her a detriment by threatening her with disciplinary action for poor customer service. She also claimed that a warning received for falsification of records constituted discrimination against her as a dyslexic employee because the errors were due to her being dyslexic. The claimant asserted that the employer and its managers failed to make reasonable adjustments for her in the disciplinary process by not giving consideration to the fact that the errors were related to her disability, and maintained a PCP (provision, criterion or practice) of accurate and timely completion of its duty rosters to her which was to her detriment.

    The Employment Tribunal held that there was no detriment or reason why a disciplinary procedure should not proceed where the employee has a disability if the issues raised warranted investigation (which in the claimant’s case was health and safety). The obligation on an employer is to ensure that reasonable adjustments are made to avoid substantial disadvantage in the process adopted. The Employment Tribunal held the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments by inter alia, requiring handwritten notes of the meeting to be signed and agreed by employees at the end of the meeting which the claimant found difficult to read and therefore required additional time to process and respond to.

    The claimant succeeded in 6 of the 10 claims she had issued against the respondents including a claim of victimisation relating to her treatment following her complaints of sexual harassment. In relation to these, the Tribunal made a finding of fact that the issuing of a warning was in consequence of the disability she had; dyslexia. The Employment Tribunal also found that the disciplinary process followed by the employer in respect of the employee had been conducted unfairly.

    The signs and symptoms of dyslexia differ from person to person. Each individual with the condition will have a unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses.

    Some of the most common signs of dyslexia are outlined below.

    Pre-school children

    In some cases, it’s possible to detect symptoms of dyslexia before a child starts school.

    Symptoms can include:

    • delayed speech development compared with other children of the same age (although this can have many different causes)
    • speech problems, such as not being able to pronounce long words properly and “jumbling” up phrases (for example, saying “hecilopter” instead of “helicopter”, or “beddy tear” instead of “teddy bear”)
    • problems expressing themselves using spoken language, such as being unable to remember the right word to use, or putting sentences together incorrectly
    • little understanding or appreciation of rhyming words, such as “the cat sat on the mat”, or nursery rhymes
    • difficulty with, or little interest in, learning letters of the alphabet


    Symptoms of dyslexia usually become more obvious when children start school and begin to focus more on learning how to read and write.

    Symptoms of dyslexia in children aged 5 to 12 include:

    • problems learning the names and sounds of letters
    • spelling that’s unpredictable and inconsistent
    • putting letters and figures the wrong way round (such as writing “6” instead of “9”, or “b” instead of “d”)
    • confusing the order of letters in words
    • reading slowly or making errors when reading aloud
    • visual disturbances when reading (for example, a child may describe letters and words as seeming to move around or appear blurred)
    • answering questions well orally, but having difficulty writing the answer down
    • difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions
    • struggling to learn sequences, such as days of the week or the alphabet
    • slow writing speed
    • poor handwriting
    • problems copying written language and taking longer than normal to complete written work
    • poor phonological awareness and word attack skills

    Phonological awareness

    Phonological awareness is the ability to recognise that words are made up of smaller units of sound (phonemes) and that changing and manipulating phonemes can create new words and meanings.

    A child with poor phonological awareness may not be able to correctly answer these questions:

    • What sounds do you think make up the word “hot”, and are these different from the sounds that make up the word “hat”?
    • What word would you have if you changed the “p” sound in “pot” to an “h” sound?
    • How many words can you think of that rhyme with the word “cat”?

    Word attack skills

    Young children with dyslexia can also have problems with word attack skills.

    This is the ability to make sense of unfamiliar words by looking for smaller words or collections of letters that a child has previously learnt.

    For example, a child with good word attack skills may read the word “sunbathing” for the first time and gain a sense of the meaning of the word by breaking it down into “sun”, “bath”, and “ing”.

    Teenagers and adults

    As well as the problems mentioned above, the symptoms of dyslexia in older children and adults can include:

    • poorly organised written work that lacks expression (for example, even though they may be very knowledgeable about a certain subject, they may have problems expressing that knowledge in writing)
    • difficulty planning and writing essays, letters or reports
    • difficulties revising for examinations
    • trying to avoid reading and writing whenever possible
    • difficulty taking notes or copying
    • poor spelling
    • struggling to remember things such as a PIN or telephone number
    • struggling to meet deadlines

    Getting help

    If you’re concerned about your child’s progress with reading and writing, first talk to their teacher.

    If you or your child’s teacher has an ongoing concern, take your child to see your GP so they can check for signs of any underlying health issues, such as hearing or vision problems, that could be affecting their ability to learn.

    If your child doesn’t have any obvious underlying health problems to explain their learning difficulties, different teaching methods may need to be tried.

    You may also want to request an assessment to identify any special needs they may have.

    If you’re an adult and think you may have dyslexia, you may want to arrange a dyslexia assessment through your local dyslexia association.

    Associated problems

    Some people with dyslexia also have other problems not directly connected to reading or writing.

    • difficulties with numbers (dyscalculia)
    • poor short-term memory
    • problems concentrating and a short attention span, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • poor organisation and time management
    • physical co-ordination problems (developmental co-ordination disorder, also called DCD or dyspraxia)

    Page last reviewed: 30 July 2018
    Next review due: 30 July 2021