Supporting employees with dyslexia and dyspraxia 

After the Equality Act was passed in 2010, the government published guidance on the factors that would affect how the law defined disability. Section A5 of the guidance examined the meaning of “impairment” relating to that definition. It says: 

“A disability can arise from a wide range of impairments which can be…developmental, such as autistic spectrum disorders (ASD), dyslexia and dyspraxia 

What are dyslexia and dyspraxia?  

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty, causing issues with reading, writing and spelling.   

Symptoms of dyslexia include: 

  • reading and writing slowly 
  • difficulty with skimming text 
  • inconsistent spelling 
  • having to re-read text to fully understand it 
  • confusing words that look similar on the page 

Other symptoms can include: 

  • forgetting important dates 
  • forgetting conversations 
  • struggling to meet deadlines 
  • difficulty with: 
  • organisation 
  • time management 
  • prioritising 
  • poor self-esteem 

Dyspraxia is also known as developmental co-ordination disorder. It affects a person’s movements and co-ordination. 

Everyone with dyspraxia will experience different symptoms, some more severe than others. Common symptoms are: 

  • poor co-ordination, balance and movement 
  • clumsiness 
  • bad hand-eye co-ordination 
  • difficulty performing daily tasks, fine motor skills and handwriting 
  • being slow at learning new skills, especially those that require speed and accuracy 
  • struggling with organisation, time management and planning 

It may also affect how the person: 

  • feels and acts in social situations 
  • deals with emotions 

Does an employee have to tell you they have dyslexia or dyspraxia? 

An employee isn’t required to tell their employer that they have dyslexia or dyspraxia. However, a supportive environment will make it a lot easier for them to feel confident enough to mention conditions which might affect their work. 

Employees do, however, have to tell their employer if their condition: 

  • could affect their ability to do their job 
  • might affect health and safety in the workplace 
  • needs medication with side effects that could affect their job or health and safety 

People with dyslexia don’t need to take medication, but there could be instances where the condition might affect their performance and, in some situations, health and safety. 

There is no medication that can be taken for dyspraxia. 

Job applicants and dyslexia 

The job application process needs to be as accepting as possible to those with dyslexia. Job advertisements should encourage applications by those with learning difficulties by saying necessary adjustments will be made for those who need it. 

Those with dyslexia may feel uncomfortable disclosing their condition to a stranger. However, if changes can be made to support their application, they will be more likely to apply. 

An inaccessible application process will mean those with dyslexia will naturally be disadvantaged due to some of their symptoms. 

When organisations collect equality monitoring data, such as when applicants are applying to a role. The recorded information about a person’s protected characteristics, such as dyslexia and dyspraxia should be kept separate to any identifying information of the applicant.   

Are dyslexia and dyspraxia counted as disabilities?  

As we have mentioned above, dyslexia is a learning difficulty and not considered a learning disability. Dyspraxia is a developmental co-ordination disorder. However, both would be protected under the Equality Act 2010 and discrimination law in Jersey and Guernsey. 

Since the law considers a condition to be a disability if it is long-term and likely to last at least 12 months, dyslexia and dyspraxia, being lifelong conditions, are very likely to fall into this category.  

To get the best from dyslexic and dyspraxic employees, employers need to make changes if they are required. 

This means you have a duty to ensure employees do not suffer a detriment because of their condition. For instance, they can’t – because of their condition – be: 

  • selected for redundancy 
  • passed over for promotion 
  • given fewer shifts 

Ways to support employees with dyslexia 

It’s important to discuss an employee’s dyslexia with them once the diagnosis is revealed. You should start a conversation to explain that you want to help them perform to the best of their ability. This will go a long way to making them feel supported and comfortable in the workplace. 

Ways to support employees with dyspraxia 

It’s advisable to discuss how you can help an employee who has dyspraxia with the support and guidance of an occupational health practitioner. You could also discuss this with the employee and their doctor, if appropriate. However, keep in mind that an employee with dyspraxia may not know themselves what adjustments may help them, especially if they are newly diagnosed; it will be a learning process for both you and them. 

Reasonable adjustments  

These make sure the employee is not disadvantaged in any way. Adjustments for both conditions will vary but there are common themes.  


Dyslexic people are all different and it affects some more than others. This might require adjustments to be made in the workplace. These could include: 

  • giving verbal instructions rather than written instructions if you can   
  • providing anything written on coloured paper; find out what colour helps the employee read best as this can differ from person to person 
  • giving extra time if a task involves reading 
  • allowing frequent breaks 
  • ensuring their computer assists them as much as possible. This might include:   
  • changing the background colour to the colour which helps them read best 
  • providing a screen reader or Reading Pen 
  • supplying mind-mapping or text to speech software   
  • supplying other specialised software or equipment   
  • structuring the working day so there is a clear plan to follow 
  • creating a workstation free from distractions 
  • providing schedules, memory aids and planners to help the employee focus 


Reasonable adjustments should be discussed during a meeting with the employee, who should also be allowed to take a tape recorder or other recording device in with them. The outcome of the meeting should be written up afterwards and a copy should be given to the employee, with one kept in the employer’s records.    

Examples of adjustments could include: 

  • giving verbal instructions rather than written instructions 
  • giving extra time to learn new tasks 
  • breaking tasks down into smaller steps 
  • giving demonstrations and being patient when the employee is learning 
  • allowing frequent breaks 
  • adapting tasks or allowing the employee to avoid those that need fine motor skills 
  • providing a plan to follow if a task is long and has a deadline 
  • supplying text-to-speech software for their computer 
  • providing specialist equipment like: 
  • a special chair 
  • footrest 
  • mouse 
  • ergonomic keyboard 
  • providing additional supervision and support 

Risk assessments for dyspraxia 

It’s good practice to have an individual risk assessment for someone with dyspraxia rather than including them in the general one, as dyspraxia can vary in severity and what is appropriate for one person may not be for another. 

Some questions to ask when carrying out a risk assessment with the employee are: 

  • What traits of dyspraxia does the employee exhibit and how will this affect them at work? 
  • Will any of their symptoms cause potential safety issues? 
  • Can the employee perform their role without difficulty due to dyspraxia symptoms? 
  • Is there anything that could help them deal with their dyspraxia symptoms more easily while at work? 
  • Does their working environment help them manage their symptoms? 

Telling colleagues 

An employee with dyslexia or dyspraxia must always have their privacy respected and their condition can’t be discussed with anyone else without their consent.    

You may need to discuss with the employee whether colleagues should be informed of their condition. This may be necessary because: 

  • other employees have noticed the employee is not as quick to complete their work as others and think they are lazy, and they may comment on this 
  • you don’t want to give the impression the employee is receiving favourable treatment 
  • colleagues may be able to help support the employee 

Again, you should take the lead from the employee. They should be in charge of if, when and how colleagues are told about their condition.