BBC – Capital – We need to talk about dyslexia at work

Nessa Corkery was always aware of her dyslexia, which was diagnosed during the early years of school.

Finally, she studied nursing and wanted to work in a hospital environment. "I've always been a very confident person and hate letting people think it just because my brain treats things differently that I can't do what others can do."

She was offered college support, including a lecture pen, a notebook to dictate notes and extra time in exams.

However, this support was short when she started her workplace. For the first time she felt very low.

"I was aware I was doing a bad job and no matter how much I tried I couldn't keep up with the other students," she says.

"It looked like I was complacent and just didn't care, but I found it difficult to keep everything in line with the others. Nursing staffing deficiency is a constant problem, so staff nurses are usually too stressed to take time to teach students, I found it very difficult to ask for extra help, as I was already considered a hindrance. "

Dyslexia's global scale

In Ireland, where Corkery lives, becomes dyslexia recognized as a disability under law; Therefore, workers are entitled to reasonable adjustments. But Ireland is definitely an exception. Most countries do not fail with dyslexia, according to a report by NGO Dyslexia and Literacy International.

Although it is difficult to figure out exactly how many dyslexics it is all over the world, Dyslexia and Literacy International suggest that at least 1[ads1]0% of the population has dyslexia, which is equivalent to about 700 million people.

52% claimed to have experienced discrimination during interview or selection processes

According to Dyslexia and Literacy International, lack of basic literacy skills means that many young adults still lack the functional skills they need to enter the modern world.

Even in richer countries where public education is available to children of all backgrounds, various resources can provide huge holes in services available to students with special needs.

Without identification and effective intervention, the effect of dyslexia can be significant and prolonged, not just for the individual but for society as a whole.

"Most adult dyslexics have a lifetime of reading experience where they learn to perform the task on any basis, for example through alternative strategies, using word memory, or skimming (or even avoiding reading)," explains Joel B. Talcott, Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at Aston University, UK.

"In some environments where highly skilled reading is needed, these requirements may exceed the individual's reading capacity, and this is when difficulties may arise."

Talcott says that in some cases it may be a breakpoint when a person recognizes for the first time that they have reading difficulties, or reads differently from their peers.

A landmark researcher, at the KPMG Foundation in 2006, analyzed the overall social costs of ignoring illiteracy associated with dyslexia.

They include unemployment, mental health problems and emergency programs, as well as costs incurred due to anti-social behavior, such as drug abuse, early pregnancy and criminal involvement.

In the UK, the KPMG report found these costs vary between £ 5,000 and £ 64,000 over a person's lifetime.


In 2018, Westminster Achieve Ability Commission (19459002)


WAC) found evidence of systemic employment barriers for millions of potential employees in Britain who is neurodivergent – meaning their brains work, learn and treat information differently.

The report highlighted a widespread lack of awareness, errors in state support and discrimination in the workplace, but also many examples of good practice. Most neurodiver people are skilled and skilled – it is the recruitment processes that disable them.

Hampered by job search processes, 43% of the interviewees felt opposed to applying. Another 52% claimed to have experienced discrimination during interview or selection processes.

The legal protections for dyslexic workers are better if the employer is aware of their dyslexia – Ide

"If you have received negative comments or experiences about your dyslexia throughout your education, which is very common, then most adults prefer to put it behind them and not refer to their dyslexia, says Margaret Malpas, head of the British Dyslexia Association. "In many cases, our working environment is not fully accepted by dyslexia yet."

In the UK in 2016, a woman won with dyslexia a case of discrimination against Starbucks after she was accused of falsifying documents.A tribunal found Meseret Kumulchew had been discriminated against after making mistakes due to her difficulties in reading, writing and telling time.

Kumulchews lawyer, Jenna Ide , says: "I think the Starbucks case was so important at the time, because there were not many high profile cases of dyslexia, especially with a "David and Goliath" situation. "

Spokesman for Starbucks, Georgia Misson, responded to saying that the firm has been working hard to expand support that tailors it to suit individual employees." We have increased disability training, provided new equipment as tablets to help employees their daily role, as well as organizational coaches available for job assistance, she says.

In continental Europe, most countries do not have the same national awareness or protection for workers as in Ireland or the United Kingdom.

Benedicte Beaugeois, for example, is dyslexic and works in digital marketing in France. She also worked for Dyslexia and Literacy International.

"In France, it is dyslexic in the workplace and it is still seen as a bad thing," said Beaugeois. "I have received zero support at the workplace. I lied about being dyslexic for a long time until I moved to London. Now I am very proud of it. "

According to European Dyslexia Association, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and an EU Employment Equality Directive are intended to impose legal obligations that prohibit discrimination and require employers to provide affordable accommodation, however, there are currently no specific laws on dyslexia. in the workplace in Europe

Working more inclusive

In the UK, however, the 2010 Gender Equality Act is classified as a disability.In order to prevent discrimination and comply with the law, employers must make appropriate adjustments to workplaces if people with dyslexia require

However, there is still confusion when it is the right time to reveal to your employer that you have dyslexia.

"Dyslexic workers can reveal their dyslexia to the employer at any time, even during the recruitment phase," says Ide.

"As a golden rule, the legal protections of dyslexic workers are better if the employer is aware of their dyslexia, so in an ideal world, the better it is – meaning reasonable adjustments can be put in place from the beginning of employment. "

A person who strongly encourages companies to adopt assistive technology to support their employees with dyslexia is Nasser Siabi.

Siabi and his family moved from Iran to the UK in 1977. His computer science and technology background, coupled with a chronic visual impairment, led him to cr eate Microlink in 1992. Microlink creates a variety of technologies and tools to help people with learning difficulties. It also provides a workplace adjustment service.

Siabi says the primary purpose of disability assistive technology is to restore their ability to communicate effectively with the world by removing obstacles due to their condition.

Neurodiver employees are untapped potential – Evans

"For example, for people with dyslexia struggling to communicate with written text, it is now possible to get the computer to help the person write using [their] vote instead of writing, "he says. "Device screen readers can read text back instead of the person reading text from the screen."

In the UK, even with shrinking budgets, some public services are investing in technology that proves successful.

Hampshire Police, for example, include active aid technology and adaptations for dyslexia workers as part of their working day.

These include colored, hardback training books to help officers track words on the page in interviews; colored overlay screens to make reading easier on computers; Smart pens for meetings, which can record audio and digitize notes; extra time for paperwork, exams and reviews; and a quiet room to avoid interference.

Hampshire Police also performs screening on recruitment and training stages so that employees with dyslexia can be supported from the beginning.

Inspector Peter Phillips, who heads the program, says that this support "must be specific and tailored to the individual (as their dyslexia may be very different from that of others) and their role." The benefits are "improved attendance (reduced stress and anxiety) and improved performance (increased confidence in own abilities)."

Thomas Smith, who works in the Hampshire Police Control Room, had no idea he was dyslexic until he started working for the police three years ago.

"I have spent all my life assuming I was slow or stupid," he says.

"My job for the police requires me to concentrate most of the day. I have to remember numbers, sequences, code and acronyms. Trying to juggle all of these words and numbers once means that they are mixed up. Now I have been diagnosed, it has helped me understand myself. My dyslexia owns me, but I'm not who I am.

Tapping creative potential

Mark Evans, CEO of the insurance company Direct Line Group, has dyslexia and other learning problems at the heart of the company. His daughter is also dyslexic.

The company brought in external specialists and speakers to stimulate the conversation about neo-diversity. They then began adjusting their policies and procedures to help dyslexia employees, including making affordable workplace adjustments and forming support groups. By doing this, the company found that they were nourishing a truly creative workforce.

"Neurodiver employees are an untapped potential," says Evans. "If supported properly, we can free up their" superpowers ".

He feels that it is becoming increasingly relevant to do so; as machine learning and artificial intelligence evolve, businesses need to emphasize creativity to be competitive.

Margaret Malpas of the British Dyslexia Society adds: "There is no doubt that the dyslexic brain, with its different way of treating information, gives specific talents such as greater creativity in mind, that is, no dyslexia makes you a genius or vice versa …

"The best way to promote the talent of people with dyslexia is to identify it early and provide tailored support. With the right support, the dyslexic mind has an incredible potential."

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