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5 Ways to Support Employees with Disabilities and Reading Proficiency Problems in the Workplace

What Challenges Do Employees with Disabilities and Reading Difficulties Face?

Employees with Disabilities working at their desks
Employees on the Move

Recently I read a piece where Henry Winkler was interviewed about his school experiences as a student with Dyslexia. Back in the 50s, when he was growing up, there was little research into the learning disorder and children who displayed difficulty with reading were labeled “lazy.” A descriptor that was applied to him.

His story has been commented on many times; however, some of the comments by people who are involved in disability inclusion in the workplace are interesting because they assume that ‘things’ have got better.

Unfortunately, reading proficiency has not increased in the last 25 years according to the National Center for Education Statistics (2019) "The nation's report card." The public education system generally under identifies children with Dyslexia and is only recently shifting to instructional methods that are consistent with the science of reading.

The resultant problem is that reading difficulties persist well into adulthood and this, of course, means that a good portion of the workforce can’t read proficiently. Approximately one third of all adults cannot read drug labels. The impact of poor reading generally has a negative impact on an individual's lifetime earning potential and it can create barriers to being hired, engaged and advancing at work.

Employees with disabilities and reading proficiency problems face many challenges in the workplace. These include communication barriers, difficulty accessing information, and potential discrimination. Employers must take steps to ensure that their employees with invisible disabilities are able to access the same resources as their neurotypical colleagues starting with the following:

Employees with Disabilities and Reading Proficiency Problems
Barriers to Advancement

1. Create an Inclusive Environment for All Employees

Creating an inclusive environment for all employees is essential for any organization. It is important to ensure that everyone feels respected and has the opportunity to contribute to the success of the organization. This can be achieved by creating a culture of acceptance and respect, where everyone feels welcome and valued regardless of their background or identity.

In order to create an inclusive environment, employers must recognize diversity in their workforce and ensure that all employees are treated with respect regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. Additionally, employers should provide equal opportunities for career development and growth for all employees.

By creating an inclusive environment for all employees, organizations can foster collaboration and innovation while also increasing employee engagement and productivity.

What are some steps that help? Providing additional support such as software instruction to help with reading difficulties, extending or modifying deadlines, or making adjustments to the physical environment. It is also important for employers to create a supportive culture that encourages open dialogue about disability issues and acknowledges the unique needs of each employee.


2. Implement Accommodations to Support Disabilities and Reading Proficiency in the workplace

Reading proficiency is a critical skill for adults to develop, and providing accommodations can be an effective way to support their development. Accommodations are modifications or adjustments to instruction, assessment, or other educational activities that allow students with disabilities the opportunity to access learning materials and demonstrate their knowledge. There is little evidence that adults do not need the same kind of multisensory instruction when participating in orientations, trainings and other corporate education activities.

By implementing appropriate accommodations, trainers can ensure that all employees have the chance to demonstrate their understanding of oral or written communication whatever its purpose.


3. Develop Training to Promote Disability Sensitivity & Understanding

Every organization has a responsibility to ensure that their workplace is inclusive and respectful of all individuals, regardless of disability. To do this, it is essential to provide disability awareness training to staff members on how to create a safe and supportive environment for those with disabilities. This training should cover topics such as understanding different types of disabilities, recognizing signs of discrimination, setting appropriate boundaries in the workplace, and developing strategies for creating an inclusive work environment. By providing this type of training, organizations can foster a culture that promotes disability sensitivity and understanding.


4. Offer Flexible Working Hours

Flexible working hours and remote opportunities are becoming more and more popular in the workplace. Companies that offer flexible working hours or remote opportunities give their employees the freedom to work when they are most productive, which can significantly increase their productivity and satisfaction with their job. Additionally, offering these options to employees can help reduce costs for the company in terms of travel expenses, office space, and other overhead costs.

Offering flexible working hours or remote opportunities also allows companies to attract and retain top talent who may not be able to commit to a traditional 9-5 schedule. By providing these options, companies are showing their commitment to creating an environment where everyone can thrive.

For employees with reading issues this may allow for balancing of academic therapy sessions or counseling.


5. Provide Remote Opportunities for Work Whenever Possible

Working remotely has become an increasingly popular option for many people due to its flexibility and convenience. It allows people to work from anywhere, anytime, without having to worry about commuting or a fixed schedule. Remote opportunities also offer more freedom and control over one’s work life balance.

With the advancement of technology, remote work is becoming more accessible than ever before. Companies are beginning to recognize the potential of remote working and are offering more opportunities for employees to work from home or other locations whenever possible. With the right tools and guidance, remote working can be a great way to increase productivity while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. While workers are moving back into bricks and mortar offices, employees with disabilities could benefit from a review of this shift in location, based on access needs and productivity.


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