Ways to Manage Learning Disabilities at Work

Appropriate planning and policies are the key to thriving

People with learning disabilities can flourish in the workplace when they know their rights and when employers accommodate their needs with appropriate planning, policies and practices. Considering that as much as 15 percent of the population has a disability of some sort, workplaces will benefit from the diverse thinking and problem-solving skills these workers bring to their jobs. So, whether you are an employee, small business owner or manager of a large company, the following tips will help you manage disabilities effectively on the job.

Accommodating Workers With Disabilities

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Employers can accommodate workers with disabilities first and foremost by developing personnel policies that clarify how the workplace will comply with federal and state Equal Employment Opportunity and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

Employers should also seek guidance from a small business administration, chamber of commerce or state business licensing agency to develop appropriate policies and appoint an administrator to oversee disability issues in the workplace.

The administrator should receive training in legal obligations and company grievance policies, while employees should receive training in policies and be able to review them in an accessible place, such as in a break room.

Employees With Disabilities May Need Modified Training

Workers with disabilities may not always tell their employers about their condition. Therefore, employers should plan training sessions assuming that workers with  learning disabilities will be included. They should also provide adapted materials for everyone. Examples include:

  1. Manuals in different forms like tape or digital recording;
  2. Computers with voice dictation and text reading programs;
  3. Appoint a manager to meet with employees who have questions; and
  4. Handouts with paraphrased instructions and illustrations.

Workers With Disabilities Need Training Options

Employers should accommodate workers with disabilities by delivering instruction in flexible formats for different types of learners:

  1. For auditory learners and dyslexic trainees, provide speakers for training presentations;
  2. For tactile learners and trainees with language deficits, provide more hands-on training and fewer written instructions when possible;
  3. Most learners, especially visual learners, benefit from visual models and demonstrations,
  4. Trainers should be available for questions and clarification at all times to ensure participants can get immediate instruction.

Professional Learning Communities May Help Employees With Disabilities

Employers should establish the expectation that learning is ongoing, questions are expected and encouraged and that all staffers are expected to support each other in their work and safety. They achieve this by taking steps to:

  1. Ensure good general safety by providing supervision for all employees;
  2. When possible, encourage team problem-solving and reward those efforts;
  3. When teaching new skills, model them and observe employees as they demonstrate mastery; and
  4. Provide more assistance when teaching skills, and gradually decrease the level of support as employees master the task.

Wrapping Up

By taking measures to accommodate workers with disabilities, employers can ensure they're providing a safe and welcoming environment for all workers.

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