Lawyers with Disabilities Division

Supporting dyslexia awareness week

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Dyslexia Awareness Week takes place 3-9 October and this year’s theme ‘Identifying Dyslexia’ opens up the topical discussion of how organisations can best support staff with hidden disabilities such as dyslexia.

I know what you’re thinking - that someone who has achieved the high academic results required to work in a legal practice couldn’t possibly have dyslexia. But the reality is that many high academic achievers in all types of professions do despite being affected by dyslexia. Dyslexia affects the way the brain retains and processes information, not the person’s intellectual ability.

It’s estimated that as many as one in 10 of the population have dyslexia so the chances are high that someone in your practice is affected.

Dyslexia Awareness week is an annual reminder that we need to change our professional mindset, to focuses on the benefits not the limitations of neurodiverse conditions like dyslexia. Becoming a dyslexia-friendly organisation might not be the easiest journey, but it’s one that will bring huge benefits for the firm, and ultimately your clients.

By becoming more dyslexia friendly you’re not only recognising the unique talents of existing dyslexic employees, but encouraging recruitment from a wider talent pool which reflects the diverse range of customers you serve and the communities in which you are based.

So what can you do to connect with existing staff and be a more dyslexia-friendly organisation?

  • Have nominated dyslexic champions - ‘go-to’ people who understand the condition and can offer support to staff.
  • Educate managers and team leaders about the effects of dyslexia and encourage them to look for signs in staff in order to support them. Dyslexic employees face particular challenges and often experience work related stress which can result in absenteeism. But a fully supported dyslexic employee brings unique talents, like ‘outside the box’ thinking, creativity and a different perspective.
  • Assistive technology can offer much needed literacy support to dyslexic staff, as well as being used as a general productivity improver for all staff. Think about installing the likes of Texthelp’s Read&Write software, on all your computers, laptops and devices, where is can be used by everyone without singling out dyslexic staff.
  • Communicate to staff that you’re a dyslexia-friendly organisation and let everyone know that assistive technology support is available. This is particularly important during recruitment and induction processes - and as part of an ongoing staff wellbeing programme.
  • Be proud to be a dyslexia-friendly organisation - get on social media and let the world know!

Texthelp are working with major law firms to help provide an inclusive and strategic solution to literacy issues including dyslexia, cognitive disorders and mild visual impairments. Our assistive software also gives support to any overseas staff who have English as a second language.

Lee Reed, equality and diversity officer, at TLT Solicitors said:

‘In our experience Read&Write has been beneficial for a number of employees; helping them use the systems required to perform their role. Initially we used Read&Write to assist an employee with dyslexia. But over the last 2 years, we have extended its use to address barriers that have been faced by people with other conditions, such as dyspraxia and visual stress. Not all features are always required but the software enables our users to cherry pick the best combination to meet their individual needs; especially important for those where a condition may fluctuate. This allows our users to manage their own requirements without having to contact the IT service desk to ask for amendments to be made to their PC. This saves time and also means that information doesn’t have to be regularly disclosed to colleagues.’

If you’d like to know more please get in touch - j.mclelland@texthelp.com or visit texthelp.com

Read the user testimonial below

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