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Sheena Bell Senior Lecturer in Education (SEN) October 2008

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1 Sheena Bell Senior Lecturer in Education (SEN) October 2008
Engaging Employers in the Inclusion of Students and Employees with Dyslexia: Issues for Higher Education and the Workplace Sheena Bell Senior Lecturer in Education (SEN) October 2008

2 Part 1: Adult dyslexia: setting the scene
What is dyslexia in relation to adults and how does it affect students in Higher Education as they move into work?

3 Dyslexia in adults? A brain difference: biological in nature and usually genetic in origin. 10-15% of population on spectrum Most adults with dyslexia can read and write although underlying difficulties persist. Unseen disability

4 British Dyslexia Association Website 2007
Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which is neurobiological in origin and persists across the lifespan. It is characterized by difficulties with phonological processing, rapid naming, working memory, processing speed and the automatic development of skills that are unexpected in relation to an individual’s other cognitive abilities. These processing difficulties can undermine the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills, as well as musical notation, and have an effect on verbal communication, organisation and adaptation to change. Their impact can be mitigated by correct teaching, strategy development and the use of information technology. British Dyslexia Association Website 2007 Research seminar

5 Frith’s causal model

6 Phonological processing
Most common core difficulty Where this develops slowly or with difficulty - high risk of dyslexia Impedes association of sounds and letter patterns (Phonics) Adults often compensate with extensive sight vocabulary Research seminar

7 The acquisition of literacy
The most complex thing your brain will ever need to learn. The origins of literacy Language: 2 million years Speech: 150,000 years Writing: ,000 years “Reading is a completely unnatural and artificial process in the brain and takes many years to acquire properly” “No two brains share exactly the same reading hardware” (Milne 2005)

8 Strengths Creativity Holistic thinking Interpersonal skills
Visualisation A different approach to a task 3D perception Research seminar

9 Recognising strengths: putting dyslexia employees at a disadvantage can mean their talents and skills are not exploited. “I do a lot of problem solving here…It saves big money and it has always got my name on it. But people don’t go, ‘You remember that really nice we got from Dave?’!” Callum

10 Possible difficulties
Short term memory Sequencing Speed of processing Organisational skills e.g. time management Automaticity of literacy skills Research seminar

11 School – the importance of diagnosis.
“I was never taught I was a dyslexic so made very little progress.” Callum “ It wasn’t recognised as a problem.” Gill “You went to this E Block and of course everyone took the mickey out of you if you went there.” Adrian

12 Development of teaching support of people with dyslexia
Employment Metacognition Higher education: organisation and study skills Secondary school: access to whole curriculum Primary School: support in acquisition of literacy S Research seminar

13 Part 2 Dyslexia in the workplace

14 Outcomes of non-recognition:
Many well compensated adults will not need adjustments: they have developed strategies Others will find stress levels rise as they are move from education into work Can cause loss of self esteem, stress, mental illness… Employers lose productivity = profits Research seminar

15 Dyslexia affects performance
The affect of dyslexia on a career path: Snakes and Ladders Dyslexia affects performance DIFFICULTIES AND STRESSES AT WORK LINKED TO DYSLEXIA Promotion accordance with true potential Low paid manual job Job Seeking Career opportunities limited by qualifications and self-esteem © Bell 2007 Research seminar

16 Workplace training: engagement and success
Negative school experiences and lack of self esteem can discourage adults with dyslexia from taking up training opportunities. However, because of professional competence it can be easier to succeed in work related accreditation, especially if dyslexia is taken into account.. “Most of these food courses because they are sort of relevant to my work and I am familiar with it all like you know, it is a walk in the park” Callum Research seminar

17 Barriers to Higher education
“It is a business management course and it goes on, it is about a years worth of course and you get some sort of degree with what I don’t know, and I have just thought to myself ‘is it worth the bother?’ I thought, because you have to do a lot of written assignments. I will be honest I thought to myself, “What am I really going to get bar a whole lot of stress and a whole lot of strain?” So I just said “Thanks, but no thanks”. So I thought ‘What I will gain was the stress I will put myself under’ and I was thinking “While I am trying to write a bloomin’ great dissertation I will probably be neglecting my own job, and won’t be doing that so well.” So that is the only course I have ever said no to and I think they expected it. … I don’t want to be a burden to anybody like having to have all this extra help and I will be honest I am not entirely sure what I would get out of it.” Research seminar

18 Workshop 1 activity In pairs or groups. Discuss ways in which adults with dyslexia in workplace settings could be encouraged to participate in professional development in HE institutions. On the sheet provided, consider a way of surmounting each barrier.

19 Research seminar

20 Self esteem in relation to work
Effect on behaviour “ I applied for a team leader’s job, maintenance team leader, but when I sat the test I felt no, I ain’t got it. I put myself down” “I still put myself down a lot. I still think I am thick and when I have interviews I think the people look at me and think “He is as thick as two short planks” Adrian


22 How can adults with dyslexia be supported?
Understanding – metacognition. Recognition of own strengths and weaknesses “It is all to do with understanding, because I always think ‘You are not thick” Gail

23 Support strategies…

24 Practical support exists and is available through the DSA and Access to Work
Learn to touch type Simple adjustments: Change font and background Look at Iansyst website/catalogue for up to date IT solutions

25 Workshop 2 activity Look at the lists of workplace tasks and possible aids. For each task find a solution that could help an employee with dyslexia.

26 Dyslexia is covered by legislation
The Disability Act ( ) covers dyslexia People with disabilities have the right to ask for reasonable adjustments at work Workplaces must now be proactive in providing opportunities and eliminating discrimination “Never even looked into it. Can you tell me?”

27 Creating a supportive culture…

28 Employers can help Open culture Encourage screening and assessment
Negotiate deadlines Giving time for tasks needing literacy processing Consider simplifying paperwork Research seminar

29 Reaching potential “When I meet people with dyslexia the saddest thing is they have been people that have been crammed in. They are crammed in themselves, like clammed up because I can tell they have been beaten, they have been bashed over, psychologically.” Gavin

30 Knocking down the wall – better for everyone…

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