Dyslexia - A guide for human resources and management
There is no one correct definition of dyslexia. Dyslexia occurs as part of a spectrum of difficulty in information processing, reading, and interpretation of spatial relationships. A person with this condition typically has difficulty with reading, spelling and writing.
Dyslexia may be considered to be part of what has been termed "neurodiversity", which links dyslexia with autism spectrum disorders and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Dyslexia is very variable in its presentation and in its severity: it can be very mild at one end of the spectrum, whilst at the other end it can cause severe problems. It is important to realise that everyone is different and that we should not stereotype people with dyslexia. Each person’s dyslexia needs to be assessed on an individual basis so that adjustments and supports can be tailored to his or her particular ‘fingerprint’ of cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
What to look out for – how dyslexia affects people and how to identify it in the workplace
(taken from http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Dyslexia.htm)
- Hesitant and inaccurate reading
- Need to re-read materials to gain an understanding
- Difficulty with sequences, eg putting dates in order
- Erratic spelling
- Reversal of letters
- Auditory language problems or visual spatial problems, which may contribute to difficulties with reading and spelling
- Inability to distinguish sounds or shapes on the page
- Associated features include poor spelling and handwriting, and mathematical difficulties
It is unlikely that health professionals will have severe dyslexia, but more and more with mild/moderate dyslexia are coming through training. It is likely that they will be aware of difficulties but it is possible that they will not have had a formal assessment and be unaware that they have a disability.
See more on our dedicated dyslexia web page
Adjustments in the workplace
If the individual has not had a specialist assessment then it is advised that they do so, in order to determine the most appropriate adjustments for them.
A full risk assessment of the tasks undertaken by the healthcare professional should be taken by the manager in conjunction with the individual, if necessary with the assistance of occupational health. Particular attention should be paid to safety critical tasks such as writing prescriptions or making entries into clinical notes (either electronic or handwritten).
Reasonable adjustments may include any of the following:
- Give verbal as well as written instructions
- Highlight salient points in documents
- Use voice mail as opposed to written memos
- Provide information on coloured paper (find out which colour helps the person to read best)
- Set up a computer screen with a coloured background to documents
Difficulty with reading and writing:
- Allow plenty of time to read and complete the task.
- Use digital recorders.
- Use speech to text software.
- Get someone else to take the minutes of meetings.
Spelling and grammar errors:
- Offer assistive text software such as ClaroRead or TextHelp.
- Proof read work.
- Instant spell checker on all computers.
- Offer assistive text software on all applications, where possible.
Working at a computer:
- Change background colour of screen to suit individual preference.
- Alternate computer work with other tasks where possible.
- Avoid continuous all day computer work.
Difficulty remembering and following verbal instructions:
- Give instructions one at a time.
- Write down important information.
- Encourage the person to take notes and then check them.
- Write a memo outlining a plan of action.
- Use a digital recorder to record important instructions.
Coping with interruptions:
- Use a “do not disturb” sign when specific tasks require intense concentration.
- Encourage co-workers not to disturb the person unless absolutely necessary.
- When interrupting, allow the person to pause and write down what they are doing to refer to when resuming work.
Reversing numbers: this is particularly important for working out doses (especially paediatric doses), writing prescriptions, administering medication and recording observations:
- Encourage the person to say the numbers out loud, write them down or press the calculator keys and check the figures have been understood
- Supply a talking calculator or use the calculator function on TextHelp software
Directional difficulties: for example doing outreach clinics
Always try to use the same route.
- Show the route and visible landmarks.
- Supply detailed maps.
For information on assistive software to support dyslexia in the workplace see the BDA Technologies website.
primarily links to external sources
- NHS Choices (This includes a helpful video) http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Dyslexia/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- British Dyslexia Association http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/
- Patient.co.uk http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Dyslexia.htm this is a source used often by General practitioners
- http://www.dyslexiacentre.co.uk/ Bristol Dyslexia Centre.
- Dyslexia action http://dyslexiaaction.org.uk/ includes addressees of countrywide assessment centres