Question Corner #2 – When’s the right time to disclose my Dyslexia

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Question Corner is a place for you to get your Dyslexic dilemmas answered by our network of experts. If you need any help or advice for Dyslexia related questions, involving work, college or Uni. Email us at: thecodpast@gmail.com

This month’s question:

I am interviewing at the moment and I am keen to work for a company that fits with my values and approach to Learning & Development [I am an L&D Mgr by trade]. Due to bad experiences in the past when disclosing my Dyslexia [Which is Mild and Phonological] I have opted to disclose this at second stage interviews [highlighting how it enhances my abilities in the role] rather than day one and risk the danger of being removed in the first 90days as they don’t understand it and think I lied about my achievements. Am I shooting myself in the foot? Is there a better way?? – Getting frustrated with not quite making it at final stages [this has happened 4 times in the past few months]

Answer 1: Janette Beetham, Workplace Dyslexia Specialist

As I think many of my colleagues involved in dyslexia support would agree, the ‘ideal’ would be for you to feel comfortable and able to disclose at the application stage (and you might even supply the recruiting organisation with a letter from Access to Work to evidence your eligibility for support if this were the case). However, as there is still a lack of awareness and understanding about dyslexia, especially in the workplace, regrettably negative prejudice abounds thus making this a potentially risky option.

With regard to disclosing at second stage interviews I would say the situation is very similar in that we never know who is going to be on the panel and what they know about dyslexia.
Therefore I would say whether or not to disclose has to be a personal choice based on a variety of ‘variables’ including:

  • The organisation’s ‘track record’ in relation to dyslexia and neuro-diverse conditions.
  • Whether the organization has an Equality & Diversity Unit/Manager. (This is usually a good sign).
  • What you know about your dyslexia challenges and how these might impact on your performance in this particular role.

Based on your research this should give you some confidence in the organisation’s ‘ethos’ and if you are successful in your application disclosure in your first few weeks of employment will give them the opportunity to do the right thing.

The question you pose is a tricky one which countless dyslexic individuals will be struggling with and until dyslexia and neuro-diversity is more widely embraced and supported it will continue to require a personal ‘judgement call’. However, I will finish by saying….if you are successful in gaining employment with an organization with whom on disclosure you find they want to ‘remove you’ within the first 90 days …..is this really the type of organization you would want to work for anyway?

Answer 2: Pamela Uddin, Alexia Solutions

Listening to your problem brings me back to my interviewing stages. I can completely understand the frustration that you are going through and unfortunately there is no correct way of disclosing this information. To make matters complicated, choosing a time to disclose you are dyslexic is different depending on the interviewers/companies you are interviewing with. What I have learned from my experience and the advice that I would give is to try and only disclose this information to someone who sits in HR within the company (this generally tends to be your first interview). I would tend to disclose it in a positive (which I am sure you are doing) but try to build the conversation so it sits in nicely – For example – I am very proud of everything I have achieved to date, degree, masters, first class hons and I achieved all this with having dyslexia. I am very proud to say I am dyslexic as it allows me to problem solve, build strategies and team build in a more diverse and creative way.

It is unfortunate that we have to be sensitive as to when and with whom we disclose this information, however being blunt the fact is that most people in business are uneducated about learning differences and can only think of negatives when they are faced with it.


pamela-uddin_smallAfter appearing on the 2014 UK BBC Apprentice with Sir Alan Sugar, Dyslexic Entrepreneur Pamela Uddin decided to take the leap and start Alexia Solutions; an organisation helping people with learning differences reach their full potential.


 Answer 3: Sean Douglas, The Codpast

So I’m gonna be a bit controversial here. I would say if you feel disclosure is a barrier to you getting through the interview process then, don’t. It is not classed as a disability, so there’s no (legal) requirement to do so.

If you know you can excel in this position, then no company will have an issue with it when you come out of the closet at a later stage (18 months after hiring or so). Yes, it is a little white lie, but as Dyslexics we are constantly forced to find creative ways to level the playing field. Unless they have dealt with it before, or they know someone who has it , many managers/companies do not understand it, do not want to understand it, and will not see it as a benefit to any role, if it has not written in the job description. Harsh but at the moment very true in many industries/organisations.

Once you are a bit further up the chain, no need to disguise this, but for now, the wisest move is to keep it close to your heart.


Sean Douglas is the founder and ‘Chief Dyslexic’ at The Codpast


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4 thoughts on “Question Corner #2 – When’s the right time to disclose my Dyslexia

  1. Mike says:

    Sean’s answer is not entirely correct. Dyslexia is classed as a disability. Of course, you don’t actually have to disclose any disabilities if you don’t want to, but I feel this could be counter productive.

    My advice is when filling in an application state that you are dyslexic in the part asking to disclose any disabilities or on the equal opportunities monitoring section. The employer then has no excuse as to whether or not they were “informed”. I had an awful experience in an interview when at the end when they asked if I had any more questions or things to add and I mentioned dyslexia, having not put it on the form, they basically told me off for not letting them know before I attended the interview. This was for a job with the local council as well!

    As Pamela says, be as positive about it as you can be about it. This may involve, as I currently am, trying to discover your dyslexic advantage.

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  2. If your dyslexia is linked to a value added proposition for your prospective employer than you should “drop” the dyslexia card during the interview. In other words “I am an intuitive problem solver and brain-stormer because I am dyslexic and predisposed to intuitive reasoning, I see connections that other do not.

    On the other hand if you are characterizing your dyslexia as an additional problem for the employer keep it to yourself…as you are passively informing the prospective employer that the company will need to provide you with fancy computer programs with dyslexic friendly fonts, extra time on projects with hard due dates, boxes of colored clay and crayons and whatever else non dyslexics are selling to the dyslexic community as a cure-all.

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  3. MrsChapp3rs says:

    I highly recommend Global Auto Correct if you are worried about spelling phonetically. It literally changes text as you type and therefore doesn’t interrupt your thought process. It is very simple to install (just load and run it – works on desktop and online). Amazing piece of kit! As for disclosing this is a tough one but one I think you need to gauge yourself. It is important that you really push your dyslexic strengths, after all there are plenty of dyslexic ‘role models’ who are extremely successful as a result of being dyslexic so make this clear. I would get the job and then disclose. If you do disclose you can get support to allow you to operate at your maximum capacity whereas if you don’t you may experience unnecessary stress and anxiety. You know you can do the job and you shouldn’t let a potential employers ignorance hold you back. They may just need educating which you can as you excel in your new role. Good luck, Sarah.

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  4. Hi. Dyslexia is legally protected as a characteristic under the heading of disability. That said, you do not need to consider yourself disabled. In fact, two-thirds of people in the UK who fall under that legal classification do not consider themselves to have a disability. The legal protection of dyslexia and other ‘specific learning disabilities’ is solely a good thing, as it gives you the same level of protection in employment for being dyslexic as someone who is blind or in a wheelchair.

    Disclosure is always the best for wider society, but on a personal level is down to your own discernment. If your dyslexia does affect your organisational or writing skills, then not disclosing it can do more hard than good. I know of several cases where people have not disclosed and ended up facing disciplinary action for underperforming, when it was actually their dyslexic traits holding them back from achieving – to then disclose that you are dyslexic and acknowledge that it is affecting performance does look like you were hiding something, which could potentially have been alleviated by support and adjustments being implemented.

    I’m not sure why Sean has chosen to thrown his opinion into the ring here. It shows a lack of understanding of the complexity of the issue and i am not sure when he was last employed or applied for a job, being the director of his own business.

    I would suggest that people strongly consider disclosing at the point where they feel that their dyslexia is negatively affecting how they do their work, so that assistive tech and training can be explored to overcome the barriers being faced. If you feel happier disclosing to your employer earlier, then great – get support in place to be a step ahead!

    If you feel happy to mention your dyslexia in a positive way and as a non-issue at interview like Pamela says, but there are widespread misconceptions about dyslexia.

    If you feel you could never disclose to your current employer or where you may be applying, then maybe you should consider working towards finding a company where you will be valued; dyslexia and all.

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