Access to Work and Hampshire Dyslexia Association: A partnership.

This article traces the progress of a helpline caller from a poor performance in the workplace, low self-esteem and a business in trouble to a full order book and a brighter more positive future.

“Access To Work (AtW) is a government scheme run by Jobcentre Plus that covers the financial cost of providing disability solutions that would otherwise not be considered a ‘reasonable adjustment’. ATW offers financial support by the provision of a grant towards the additional employment costs incurred by disabled people in or entering paid employment to help overcome work related obstacles resulting from their disability. It is available to unemployed, employed and self-employed people and can apply to any job, full-time, part-time, permanent or temporary.” This quote is taken from Microlink‘s website FAQ on AtW . The British Dyslexia Association is an accredited contractor, supplier and trainer supporting this AtW scheme and the Hampshire Dyslexia Association holds a list of accredited workplace assessors and support workers.

In January 2011 the HDA helpline received a call on the helpline from Peter.  This gentleman is a self-employed specialist installing equipment into vehicles for phones and satellite navigation.  His business had suffered due to changes in his personal circumstances which resulted in his business administration falling away.  Peter told the helpline that at school he had been told he had dyslexia.  Now his business was suffering because of literacy difficulties, organisational problems and poor time management all of which were leading to stress. He really wanted some help to get his business back on track and knew that dyslexia was holding him back in doing this. Peter, in his mid-forties, came to The Orchard for a meeting with me. After discussions and a brief screening assessment (parts of DAST and Quickscan)  I suggested he contacted AtW and make a request for help in the workplace.  At that meeting Peter was negative about the future, frustrated about his business and finding it difficult to face up to having dyslexia and to ask for help.

Peter says that the application for help in the workplace was not a difficult process, that the people he spoke to or visited him were very supportive and showed understanding of what he needed. The process was quick and the ICT was soon in place, allowing him to begin to make progress in building his business again. I worked with Peter for 7 hours, over several weeks, in 1 to 1 sessions looking at issues relating to the workplace.  I visited his place of work, his home, and was very pleased to see an organised desk, filing system and IT use beginning to develop.

Following the initial set of support Peter decided to, as he says, ‘face up to his dyslexia’.  The Association provided a list of assessors and Peter had a Full Specialist Teacher Assessment in August 2011.  The assessment and report identified dyslexia of a moderate to severe nature and noted that he was a very able individual with a very specific learning difficulty.  Following this assessment Peter contacted his AtW adviser and requested 10 more hours of 1 to 1 support, which was agreed to.  We used these further 10 hours to address literacy and memory issues identified in his assessment.  Peter really enjoyed the sessions on memory and in fact he is now very skilled at all kinds of brain and memory activities.

I want to conclude with two points. Firstly, from a professional perspective as a 1 to 1 tutor and secondly, on how AtW really did provide Access to Work.

A tutor delivering support work with adults in the workplace requires a variety of skills. There is no formal curriculum or lesson plan, no previous pattern to be followed as each individual has a different requirement.   So, not much difference from each student we work with but in my experience an adult being supported in the workplace requires a more than usual sensitive approach.  It is extremely interesting, rewarding and worthwhile work.

The AtW grant (100% as Peter is self-employed) provided funding for the Workplace Assessment, software, software training and support worker sessions. This has given Peter the opportunity to maintain his business which was failing because of his dyslexic difficulties.  His business is now thriving, has a full order book and he is much more positive and outgoing.

In conclusion I would say that the partnership of Access to Work and local dyslexia associations should be encouraged and tutors already working either in HE or with adults should consider this opportunity to work with adults in the workplace.

There is an excellent DVD produced by Microlink which provides more details and shows real case histories about how the AtW system provides support. I would encourage you to view that and contact Microlink for a copy if you wish.

Finally, Peter says: “Once I had made the difficult decision to ask the help, the support and understanding that I received from both the Hampshire Dyslexia Association and the Access to work team have not only refocused my business, but given me a specific diagnosis of my dyslexia.

This has highlighted to me my specific areas of weakness so I can utilise my new training to maximise my time and efficiency. Overall, this has led to me being able to minimise stress and apply myself to work in a more positive manner.

With this knowledge in mind it gave me the stepping stones to get to where I needed to be. I now not only have the tools to communicate and perform well in a business environment but I’m finding the confidence needed to succeed in my personal life.

I hope that my story will highlight to others that there is help out there no matter what your circumstances are and that all you need to do is ask!”


References: Employment and Dyslexia Handbook 2010. 2011 and 2012. British Dyslexia Association. £10.00 including P & P. Available from BDA Office 0845 251 9003 or email

British Dyslexia Association Code of Practice Employers. Good Practice guidelines for supporting employees with dyslexia in the workplace. 2nd Edition. Available from BDA Office 0845 251 9003 or email


The Adult Dyslexic. Interventions and Outcomes (Chapter 9 Dyslexia at work) David McLoughlin, Carol Leather and Patricia Stringer. WHURR ISBN 1-86156-045-1


The Dyslexic Adult in a Non-Dyslexic World. Ellen Morgan and Cynthia Klein. WHURR ISBN 1-86156-207-1


Dyslexia and Employment: A Practical Guide for Assessors, Trainers and Managers. Edited by Sylvia Moody. Wiley-Blackwell 2009


AtW: Three regional centres:London,Cardiff orGlasgow.

Local number :London ,SE England  and East of England

Tel 020 8426 3110

or Email:

Full information at :


Microlink PC: Case histories and FAQ on Access to Work plus order your own DVD.

Training: BDA website and scroll to Training and events, and then Workplace Assessors Programme.  Contact


Sue McKenna, Hampshire Dyslexia Association

Workplace Assessor.    Email: