Screeners, Diagnostic and Workplace Needs Assessments

Screeners can be used in the workplace to indicate the likelihood of a condition and whether further investigations need to be carried out.

A diagnostic assessment is not a legal requirement for reasonable adjustments.  However, the only way to really know if someone is dyslexic and where their particular strengths and weaknesses lie is through a diagnostic assessment.

It is best practice for employers to offer a diagnostic assessment for any staff member that may be dyslexic, and for a Workplace Needs Assessment to be carried out.

A Workplace Needs Assessment is designed to identify a range of reasonable adjustments that can be implemented to support a dyslexic employee at work. It involves an experienced workplace assessor looking at the specific job role and the difficulties that the individual is experiencing as a result of their dyslexia. The assessor can then identify adjustments to help the employee.

This is beneficial for your employee and it also gives you protection under the Equality Act 2010.

  • The process

    Workplace Needs Assessments are available privately through dyslexia organisations, such as the British Dyslexia Association, or through the Government Scheme – Access to Work.

    The employer and the employee will be sent questionnaires to complete which are then sent (with the job description and other supporting documents) to the allocated assessor enabling them to have a full range of information on the employees background, their difficulties and the tasks/challenges they face at work.

    The workplace needs assessor will consult the employee's line manager and/or HR Occupational Health department to ascertain whether the proposed reasonable adjustments are realistic and workable within the specific requirements of the organisation.

    Employers have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make adjustments to support their dyslexic employees. The majority of adjustments are simple and inexpensive and may only involve minor alterations to an individual's work day. However, other adjustments may have a cost attached to them such as specialist software (plus training) that supports the individual's reading and writing process.

    Funding for adjustments can be applied for via the government scheme Access to Work.

    Find out more about Access to Work

  • Case study

    Rupinder works for a high-profile company as a legal secretary. Her employers value her talents and are keen to support any additional needs she may have.

    Her manager stated that Rupinder is good at her job but that her speed of working causes some concern; Rupinder confirmed that at times she struggles with meeting deadlines. Rupinder finds that her reading can be slow and that she tends to reread most texts to ensure she understands them. She also finds that she hesitates when sending important emails or reports as she lacks confidence that her work is accurate, leading to her missing important deadlines. Several adjustments were recommended:

    Challenge: Proofreading emails and reports 

    Adjustment:  TextHelp Read&Write Gold software assists by reading back what has been written enabling the user to proofread by listening. This should help Rupinder identify errors and feel more confident with the overall accuracy of her writing.

    Challenge: Slow reading caused by difficulties absorbing complex documents

    Adjustment: TextHelp Read&Write Gold software will read any document (even PDFs). This will enable Rupinder to focus on comprehension and to feel confident she is absorbing the content accurately.

    Challenge: Slow reading caused by difficulties absorbing complex documents

    Adjustment: Using the above software is likely to improve Rupinder's speed of reading and her written output.

    Challenge: Meeting deadlines

    Adjustment: Rupinder does not use any specific organisational tools/techniques. Her manager agreed to arrange for a colleague to train Rupinder on Outlook calendar.

    Challenge: Remembering instructions

    Adjustment: Workplace coaching will also support Rupinder in finding ways to organise her day, set priorities and manage her time more effectively.

    Rupinder's manager agreed to follow up conversations with an email.

    Challenge: Distractibility undermines Rupinder's written output

    Adjustment: Rupinder's manager agreed she could use a quiet side room for specific work tasks, plus work at home one day a fortnight.

    Training is also recommended

    1. The workplace assessor recommended that Rupinder has two hours of specific training on the Read&Write Gold software to ensure she is confident with using the key features.
    2. Twelve hours of workplace coaching was recommended. This would be used to help Rupinder devise a range of systems and strategies to organise her workday. The specialised coach would also identify specific areas of Rupinder's writing that need developing as well as practising 'active' reading techniques to assist with reading efficiency.
    3. Rupinder's managers were advised that specific dyslexia awareness training, for all staff, would assist with supporting any dyslexic employee.     

    Depending on the individual it may take 2 or 3 months for the above measures to become embedded and for the associated training and learning to become effective. This should then enable Rupinder to feel supported at work and to develop greater confidence in her own strengths and abilities.

  • Organisations that offer screening and assessments

    British Dyslexia Association: AssessmentsThe BDA offer online screening and diagnostic assessments conducted by Specialist Teacher/Assessors with a current Assessing Practising Certificate (APC) or Psychologists registered with the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC). They also offer Workplace Needs Assessments.
    Dyslexia FoundationThe Dyslexia Foundation offer screening, diagnostic and Workplace Needs Assessments.
    Dyslexia Research TrustThrough special clinics, the Dyslexia Research Trust (DRT) offers people with a range of learning difficulties - including dyslexia- a way forward to reach their full potential.

    In addition to their research programme the DRT also offer assessments to help with workplace needs and specialised visual assessments. They have a helpline and can offer practical advice and reassurance.
    Helen Arkell: Dyslexia assessments for adults and childrenHelen Arkell have their own team of highly trained Specialist Assessors (HASAs) who are professionally qualified to assess, report, and diagnose dyslexia.  They are also able to advise on all aspects of dyslexia and literacy/numeracy.
    National Dyslexia NetworkVisit the website to find the nearest NDN office to you. The NDN offer diagnostic and workplace needs assessments, and advice and support for employers.

    More info: Access to Work