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HR and disability professionals

by Justin Crick | Oct 11, 2012

A Framework For Human-Resources Professionals

Each person will have individual needs, and these will vary according to the particular situation. However, here is a general list of reasonable adjustment practices to consider.

Recruitment

Consider the following:

  • Job adverts and application forms should be presented in a dyslexia-friendly format.
  • Offer application forms online or by email attachment.
  • Some dyslexic candidates do not see themselves as 'disabled'. So ask the question: 'Do you have a specific learning difference such as dyslexia?'.
  • Discuss needs and adjustments for the interview process with the individual in advance. Treat each person on a case-by-case basis.

Adjustments for interviews might include:

  • A briefing on the nature of the applicant's disability to the interview panel and adjustment recommendations. For example: an awareness that the interviewee may take longer to respond to questions, or may have word-finding difficulties.
  • Where appropriate, the offer of tools that can help the candidate if they have difficulty with short-term memory, verbal fluency or organising thoughts when under stress.
  • Making written information as accessible as possible.
  • Providing a map and clear directions to help reduce stress and the possibility of being late.

Additional adjustments for written tasks might include:

  • Use of a PC and assistive technology.
  • Allowing extra time for reading questions and drafting answers.
  • Presenting questions on preferred layout, paper colour and font.

Appraisal

The following factors should be taken into account:

  • Work objectives need to be tailored to take account of the areas of difficulty and individual coping strategies.
  • Both written and verbal recommendations, aims and feedback need to be clearly understood.
  • Some activities can be expected to take longer. For example: reading, drafting written documents, or learning new routines and procedures.
  • Work equipment and the work environment must be appropriate to need.

Promotions

Many competent and talented dyslexic employees may be reluctant to seek promotion due to concerns about adapting to new challenges and learning different routines which might exacerbate their difficulties in the short term. They may not be aware of accommodations and strategies to get round their difficulties and build on their strengths. The above suggested recommendations for adjustments to appraisal, interviews and written tests apply equally to promotion issues.

Performance Management

Dyslexic employees may be more prone to underperforming under stress, being adversely affected by unreasonable time constraints or lack of support. Before disciplinary procedures are initiated, it is important to consider whether dyslexic-type difficulties can be suspected as a cause of underperformance. If this is the case, a screening test should be offered.

Dyslexia Assessments

Naturally, adjustments cannot be made unless employees reveal details of their difficulties. If an employee suspects that he/she may be dyslexic, but has had no formal assessment, the following diagnostic approach is suggested as a possible strategy for employers to follow:
  • a discussion and review of difficulties in their work role and the possible options;
  • an initial screening test that may point to the likelihood of dyslexia;
  • a full diagnostic assessment by a qualified and experienced dyslexia specialist with a current Practising Certificate;
  • It may then be necessary to arrange a workplace needs assessment to determine the most effective and reasonable accommodations. This is carried out by a dyslexia consultant and may be funded through the Access-to-Work scheme – part of the Jobcentre organisation. It must be noted that a diagnostic assessment is not always needed for the Access-to-Work Scheme.
  • A discussion about outcomes, recommendations and an action plan.
Assessment should aim to clearly identify the individual's needs within their particular job context. This leads to recommendations for reasonable and practical solutions to try in the workplace.

Training

It is important that internal training departments and external trainers are made aware of the needs of dyslexic learners.

Adjustments for training might include these actions:

  • Give dyslexic participants copies of materials well in advance of a session.
  • Give out relevant abbreviations, acronyms and specialist vocabulary before the session.
  • Allow opportunities for enhanced note-taking, including voice recordings of sessions, the use of a laptop or someone to assist with note-taking.
  • Give clear verbal and written instructions. Prioritise, sequence or list tasks.
  • Give adequate time to complete reading or writing tasks.
  • Provide an overview of main points and sum up frequently.
  • Do not ask an individual to read aloud or act as scribe without prior agreement.
  • Be aware of visual, motor or auditory difficulties and use a multi-sensory approach: seeing, hearing and doing.
  • Use visual props (flow charts, mind maps, charts, and diagrams, etc) to clarify points, as well as linear notes with bullet points, headings and sub-headings.
  • Allow breaks and vary activities, so as to avoid information overload.