IN TOUCH : Dyslexia – differentiation not disadvantage

While it’s historically been seen as disadvantaging employees, new school of thought is emerging about dyslexia in the workplace.
Internationally, employers are learning to celebrate the difference and harness the creative strengths dyslexics can bring to their work environments. Closer to home, business leaders with dyslexia – like Weta Workshops co-founder and 2009 Kea World Class NZ Supreme Award winner Richard Taylor or MetService CEO Paul Reid – offer model for just what that might look like.
As Reid puts it: “Dyslexia has helped me be good leader because I’ve learnt to communicate ideas, issues and concepts in different ways. I have had to adapt to succeed but I believe this has actually made me stronger leader. For example, in moments of crisis I can take lot of verbal information, process it, draw conclusions and make decisions on the spot. I deal in concepts rather than in detail and I can give one-hour presentation without notes…”
In New Zealand, at least 10 percent of the workforce will be dyslexic to some degree and while many employers know about the difficulties associated with dyslexia, few are aware of its strengths. For those of us who probably take for granted our ability to skim-read report or express ideas in an email, it’s hard to imagine how such seemingly simple tasks could produce an emotive response. But for those whose dyslexia has been misunderstood in school and elsewhere, such feelings are very real.
On the plus side, there’s now much more focus on what dyslexics can do rather than what they can’t. That includes creative problem solving and “thinking outside the square” – traits in much demand given more complex work environments and ongoing need for innovation.
Now employers have chance to find out more about this “creative edge” of dyslexia and how best to take charge of dyslexia in the workplace. On June 3, international expert and author on dyslexia Neil Mackay will be running workshop on the “4D workplace”.
It will include practical solutions for employers on how to make usually written communications more accessible to all and provide information as to how they can help employees manifest their potential and add value to their business. Promoting ‘notice and adjust’ philosophy, Mackay puts the focus on creating new business reality in which dyslexic employees are recognised, respected and empowered to achieve their potential.
This is not the UK-based expert’s first visit to New Zealand – last year his workshops here attracted thousands of teachers who were told that by fine-tuning their lessons to help dyslexic learners, they could lift the achievement of all students.

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