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Reasonable Adjustments for Dyslexia

Written communication
Verbal communication
Time and work planning
Directional difficulties

1.  Written Communication

General difficulty with reading:

  • Give verbal as well as written instructions.
  • Highlight salient points in documents.
  • Use voice mail as opposed to written memos.
  • Use screen reading software.
  • Ask for information in Plain English format.
  • Supply screen reading software and scanner.
  • A Reading Pen may be useful for unfamiliar words.
  • Provide information on coloured paper (find out which colour helps the person to read best).
  • Set up a computer screen with a coloured background to documents.
  • Avoid underlining and italics: these tend to make the text appear to run together. Use bold instead.
  • AVOID TEXT IN BLOCK CAPITALS: this is much harder to read.
  • For Headings, use larger font size in bold, lower case.
  • Boxes and borders can be used for effective emphasis.

Difficulty with reading and writing:

  • Allow plenty of time to read and complete the task.
  • Examine other ways of giving the same information to avoid reading.
  • Discuss the material with the employee, giving summaries and/or key points.
  • Utilise information prepared in other formats for example audio or videotape, drawings, diagrams and flowcharts.
  • Use mind-mapping.
  • Use digital recorders.
  • Use speech to text software.
  • Use short-hand /symbols for note taking.
  • Get someone else to take the Minutes of meetings.

Spelling and grammar errors:

  • Proof read work.
  • Instant spell checker on all computers.
  • Offer assistive text software on all applications, where possible.

Working at a computer:

  • Change background colour of screen to suit individual preference.
  • Supply anti-glare screen filter.
  • Allow frequent breaks, at least every hour.
  • Alternate computer work with other tasks where possible.
  • Avoid continuous all day computer work.

2. Verbal Communication

Difficulty remembering and following verbal instructions:

  • Give instructions one at a time.
  • Communicate instructions slowly and clearly in a quiet location.
  • Write down important information.
  • Demonstrate and supervise tasks and projects.
  • Encourage the person to take notes and then check them.
  • Ask instructions to be repeated back, to confirm that the instruction has been understood correctly.
  • Write a memo outlining a plan of action.
  • Use a digital recorder to record important instructions.
  • Back up multiple instructions in writing or with diagrams.
  • Difficulty with hidden meanings in conversation.
  • Give clear concise and direct instructions; do not hint or make assumptions that you have been understood.

3.  Time and Work Planning

Concentration difficulties/distractions:

  • Make sure the workplace is quiet and away from distractions for example away from doors, busy phones, loud machinery.
  • Allocate a private workspace if possible.
  • Where feasible allow an employee to work from home occasionally.
  • Provide a quiet working environment for a dyslexic employee by allocating libraries, file rooms, private offices and other enclosed areas when others are not using them.

Coping with interruptions:

  • Use a “do not disturb” sign when specific tasks require intense concentration.
  • Encourage co-workers not to disturb the person unless absolutely necessary.
  • When interrupting, allow the person to pause and write down what they are doing to refer to when resuming work.
  • Ensure that each task is completed before starting another.
  • Encourage outgoing rather than incoming calls. Offer training in how to use the telephone effectively for example jotting down key points before making the call.

Remembering appointments and deadlines:

  • Remind the person of important deadlines and review priorities regularly.
  • Hang a wall planner that visually highlights daily/monthly appointments, deadlines, tasks and projects.
  • Supply a PDA personal digital organiser.
  • Supply an alarm watch.
  • Encourage the employee to use the daily calendar and alarm features on his/her computer.

Organisation of property:

  • Ensure that work areas are organised, neat and tidy.
  • Keep items where they can be clearly seen for example shelves and bulletin boards.
  • Ensure the team returns important items to the same place each time.
  • Colour code items.
  • Ensure work areas are well lit.

Organising workflow:

  • Supply and use a wall planner.
  • Prioritise important tasks.
  • Create a daily, dated “To Do” list.
  • Use diaries.
  • Write a layout for regular tasks with appropriate prompts for example for meetings or taking notes.
  • Allow extra time for unforeseen occurrences.
  • Build planning time into each day.  

4.  Directional difficulties

Always try to use the same route:

  • Show the route and visible landmarks.
  • Give time to practice going from one place to another.
  • Supply detailed maps.
  • Supply GPS car navigation system.

Short term memory problems; especially names, numbers and lists:

  • Use mnemonic devices and acronyms.
  • Organise details on paper so that they can be referred to easily using diagrams and flowcharts.
  • Check back understanding.
  • Use multi-sensory learning techniques such as reading material onto a tape machine and then playing it back whilst re-reading.
  • Use computer software; sometimes well developed programme menus and help features are useful.
  • Use a calculator.

Source: British Dyslexia Association


Human Resources

University of St Andrews
Walter Bower House

St Andrews
KY16 0US
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0)1334 463096