What would you say Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Branson, Cher, and Keira Knightly all have in common? The first thing to come to mind is sharing a degree of success, fame, fortune, and notoriety in their respective fields. While, yes, this is correct, the common connection they share with others such as Walt Disney, John Lennon and Tom Cruise, is they all have been diagnosed with dyslexia.
What is Dyslexia?
It was first identified by German neurologist Adolf Kussmaul in 1877, which he termed ‘word blindness’. People with dyslexia have difficulties reading and spelling. No two people are the same and may have different symptoms, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words and numbers.
Dyslexia is a neurological disorder caused by different wiring in the brain. It is hereditary and effects around 10 percent of the population. This equates to around 700 million people worldwide, so it is likely we all work alongside people who sit somewhere along the dyslexia spectrum.
Dyslexia is not a disease, and it cannot be cured as it is a brain-based difference. With the right support and additional tools, however, people with dyslexia can overcome any barriers they may experience.
How can you support people with dyslexia?
Adaptations and accommodations:
Accommodations and adaptations provide alternative options for how people receive, interpret and send information. Work alongside your dyslexic colleagues and ask what works and what doesn’t work. Some people may prefer to make a phone call than to write an email, while others may use speech-to-text software. With communication playing a vital role in most workplaces, it’s important to have open and honest conversations with those around you. Ask about what accommodations and adaptations they may need and implement these requests.
We recommend the Speecher Texter tool.
Looping calligraphy may be beautiful to look at, but, for people with dyslexia or who are visually impaired, it can create unnecessary difficulties when reading and writing.
Use plain, evenly spaced, and easy-to-read fonts where possible. The most accessible and widely available are Tahoma, Calibri, Helventica, Arial, Verdana and Times New Roman.
The British Dyslexia Association has put together a great Dyslexia friendly style guide
Explore digital tools and offer supportive software:
There are many hardware and software devices available to support people with dyslexia. These tools fall under the heading of assistive technology and makes tech work for the users. Some examples of assistive technology include:
- Speech recognition
- Mind mapping:
- Scanning software and hand-reading pens:
- Spell checkers:
Demonstrate a supportive culture:
Take time to understand the challenges and frustrations a person with dyslexia may face. To show your support, be open-minded and make it clear the workplace is a supportive environment.
Open yourself up to learn more about how a person with dyslexia experiences reading and writing. The international Dyslexia Association has created a great video library as a one stop shop for various video clips, interviews and informative media clips.