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Dyslexia in the Workplace

Dyslexia is a form of learning disability. It is a neurological disorder that is a consequence of differences in the way the brain is “wired”. Dyslexia is a disability based on language; a person finds it difficult to grasp the written word, and sometimes, the spoken word. It occurs to 10% of the population. It accounts for 80% of all learning disabilities. Adults suffering with dyslexia have had problems in finding and keeping a job because until 1964 they were given the same civil status as minorities and women. Only in the 1990 with the Americans with Disabilities Act, did they get to compete for jobs in a fair manner.

The most common characteristics of dyslexia are reading difficulties, spelling difficulties, note-taking and writing, and organizational skills. There are some physical problems that may be common in dyslectics at work, like migraine, extreme stress, motion sickness, hypersensitivity, etc… Dyslectics are not slow learners, they just learn in a different manner. The right-brain skills are very strong in dyslectics, like visual and spatial skills, problem solving and creative skills. While an average person can muster 150 images per second, a dyslectic can summon 1500 – 4000 images per second. Over a 50% of the employees of NASA are dyslectics. This is because they have highly developed problem solving skills.

There are many ways in which dyslectic people can cope at the workplace. They should first understand their own learning style and try to map with the different jobs that suit it. The next step is to apply only for the jobs that fit their style, knowledge and skills. It would do well to request for job descriptions before applying for the jobs. After the job has been offered, they should disclose their dyslectic condition to the HR personnel. They should do so in person and not over the phone. Also, when they get the job they should study their work place, the accommodation provided and the tasks that they have to perform.

Some of the most reasonable accommodations for a dyslectic are:

• Language training in the workplace
• Full spectrum lighting
• Minimal distractions

They should ask for particular timelines for their performance appraisals. Learning for the dyslectics should be multisensory and structured. Focus should be on one problem at a time. Right brain skills should be put to use more frequently. New information must be repeated many times. Use of technology must be encouraged and all learning material should be presented to them.

Help is available for the dyslectics in the form of laws to protect them. Parents and the dyslectic adults should make themselves aware of these laws.

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