The need for business to be trained in dyslexia
“Dyslexia is something that training and development organisations should be aware of and endeavour to accommodate.”
Business Link for London (2008)
According to the British Dyslexia Association 10% of the adult population in the UK is dyslexic. However dyslexics are known to be attracted to certain professions such as architecture and engineering, where as many as 40% are thought to be dyslexic and design where incidence may be as high as 60%. So if you work in a creative industry, then as many as six out of the ten people you meet in the course or your day at work may be dyslexic. This has implications for workplace trainers, mentors and coaches, in the way you interact with this group, if you are to be effective in your communcation.
More people are coming round to the idea that the visual and 'out of the box' thinking that can come with dyslexia should be recognised as an advantage. However dyslexia is more likely to be described in terms of the many challenges it presents in the workplace. Employers, employees and the self-employed with dyslexia may have difficulty coping with very specific aspects of their role. There is also a surprisingly high number who may not even know that they are dyslexic. This lack of knowledge of their own dyslexia is not to say that they don't experience difficulties, they will. This group have the added problem of not understanding why they have a difficulty and may question their wider abilities. They will be aware that some methods of interaction do not work for them and may chose to avoid them.
It is common for the people and organisations tasked with supporting dyslexic people to be unsure of what dyslexia is. They may also be unsure or the specific ways to accommodate the different style of processing in a business environment. This is why effective training is so important. It means that staff can understand and be confident that they are supporting in the right way.
Business has a lot to gain from being familiar with dyslexia and the other neurological and perceptual differences that often co-exist, such as AD(H)D and Dyspraxia. In particular greater knowledge and understanding can improve:
- training effectiveness
- employee interaction and relationships
- individual and company productivity
- customer service
- job suitability
For businesses to communicate effectively and inclusively there are three key areas that must be considered:
- The wide range of impacts that dyslexia can make upon business interactions, strategies and decision-making.
- The positive aspects which dyslexia can bring to the business environment and how these can be harnessed to the benefit of individuals and their corporations.
- The variety of ways in which dyslexia can be supported in the business context.
Jan Halfpenny writes, conducts research and trains organisations and individuals on dyslexia and business.