Recognising Dyslexia in the workplace

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month worldwide. Countries and dyslexia organisations organise activities and actions locally, aligned with the key issues of their dyslexic communities at national, regional or local level.

October was thus a very appropriate month for the Erasmus+ project “DysinEduProWork” partners to meet in Dublin, discuss the progress of the project, and plan their next activities.

“Dys in Education, Professional life and Work” is an innovative programme that focuses on enhancing inclusive education and diversity in the fields of education and vocational training.

The main goal of “Dysineduprowork” is to create inclusive learning and work environments and empower learners/employees with learning disorders through information, analysis, and facilitation for a successful transition to the job market. It is designed to support learners and employees with specific learning disorders, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and other special learning disorders that affect reading, writing, spelling, math, and other cognitive processes.

An inclusive, or dyslexia friendly, workplace can reduce stress, increase morale and motivation. This is turn can have an impact on reducing staff turnover and sickness leave.

But disclosing dyslexia to an employer is not always easy for an employee, or for anyone for that matter. It is important for a manager to be able to identify potential issues and make sure to discuss with their employees in order to provide the best possible working arrangements.

Some common characteristics that adults with dyslexia can manifest were proposed by the co-founder and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, Sally Shaywitz (Shaywitz, 2020):


  • A childhood history of reading and spelling difficulties
  • While reading skills have developed over time, reading still requires great effort and is done at a slow pace
  • Rarely reads for pleasure
  • Slow reading of most materials—books, manuals, subtitles in films
  • Avoids reading aloud


  • Earlier oral language difficulties persist, including a lack of fluency and glibness; frequent use of “um’s” and imprecise language; and general anxiety when speaking
  • Often pronounces the names of people and places incorrectly; trips over parts of words
  • Difficulty remembering names of people and places; confuses names that sound alike
  • Struggles to retrieve words; frequently has “It was on the tip of my tongue” moments
  • Rarely has a fast response in conversations; struggles when put on the spot
  • Spoken vocabulary is smaller than listening vocabulary
  • Avoids saying words that might be mispronounced


  • Has a high capacity to learn
  • Shows noticeable improvement when given additional time on multiple-choice questions
  • Demonstrates excellence when focused on a highly specialized area, such as medicine, law, public policy, finance, architecture or basic science
  • Excellent writing skills if the focus is on content, not spelling
  • Highly articulate when expressing ideas and feelings
  • Exceptional empathy and warmth
  • Successful in areas not dependent on rote memory
  • A talent for high-level conceptualization and the ability to come up with original insights
  • Inclination to think outside of the box and see the big picture
  • Noticeably resilient and able to adapt

Consider the above as general guidelines. Discuss with your employees and get their feedback on the accommodations that would best suit everyone.