In the last 20 years dyslexia has come of age. Two decades ago it was still generally regarded as something that afflicted children; and there was a vague assumption that once a child had reached the age of 15 or so, either he/she would have grown out of being dyslexic or, if not, that there was little in the way of further help that could be given.
The 1990s was the decade of the dyslexic student. There was a growing awareness that students in both sixth forms and in tertiary education had not grown out of their dyslexic difficulties, but rather that the difficulties had become less obvious. These students might have acquired the ability to read with reasonable comprehension, but they were often very slow in doing so. It was also realised that, as children climbed up the education ladder, they had increasing need of advanced study skills, such as note-taking and structuring essays.
As both the study and personal lives of students became busier and more complicated, it could be seen that they lacked the ability to organise themselves in an efficient way. Eventually it became clear that dyslexic students required help in order to achieve their academic and professional potential just as much as six-year-olds needed help in learning to read. It was just that both the difficulties and the help required was more sophisticated.
The last decade, the noughties, was the decade of the working person with dyslexia. There was a growing awareness that good study skills were not sufficient to enable a person to thrive in a workplace where demands were often greater and awareness of dyslexia less widespread.
At the beginning of this last decade very few dyslexia professionals were concerned with assessing people in employment or with offering employer consultancy. Very few tutors had moved beyond education into offering workplace training. Even fewer professionals had begun to study and consider the obligations placed on employers by the Disability Discrimination Act (now replaced by the Equality Act).
In subsequent years books began to be written, conference papers given, and training courses established which together have now brought dyslexia in the workplace into the mainstream of dyslexia support work. Dyslexia professionals now offer workplace-oriented diagnostic and needs assessments, work coaching or training, consultancy services to employers, and expert witness services.
In this book on dyslexia in the workplace Margaret Malpas and her collaborators have successfully condensed the large amount of information now circulating on this subject into a succinct yet comprehensive book. It is written in a clear non-jargony style and is therefore an accessible read for both employers and dyslexic workers.
The book covers the nature of dyslexic difficulties, and also describes associated difficulties, such as dyspraxia, ADHD, dyscalculia, Asperger’s syndrome, visual stress. It explains the various types of assessment that can be done – screening, diagnostic, workplace needs – and gives a detailed account of the help and support that can be provided to a dyslexic employee in the form of training, technology, and reasonable adjustments. It also covers legal issues.
It is my pleasure, therefore, to commend this book to all those who, in any capacity, wish to fully inform themselves about current thinking and practice in the realm of workplace dyslexia consultancy.
Dr Sylvia Moody
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