Association law

#MyDyslexiaStory – Zac O’Brien – British Dyslexia Association

Seek advice from a specialist

At school and university, I was given extra time and the use of a computer for exams. Some people were critical of me getting this support and thought it gave me an advantage – so I didn’t discuss it much. But now my outlook has changed, and I think it’s important to discuss this kind of support. Someone who isn’t dyslexic doesn’t know what it’s like to take an exam for someone who has dyslexia. Likewise, I don’t know what it’s like for someone who isn’t dyslexic to take an exam. Fortunately, there are specialists who understand both points of view and they have set the standard for making exams fairer. It is therefore important that we are convinced that if people benefit from more time or other adjustments, they really need these measures in place, and they should be encouraged to accept this support.

Be open and get help

When I was about to start my career, I was nervous about revealing my dyslexia. However, I am happy to have found everyone very supportive, both in terms of my colleagues and clients. My job helped me with strategies, and those must have changed as I got older in my career. I also found that the IT team was great and researched new technologies that could help me.

I was also very impressed with people outside my company who made adjustments for me. For example, at times I received documents from external companies that had been produced in a style that I found difficult to read. However, when I directed them to the British Dyslexia Association’s website page on dyslexia-friendly fonts and styles, they were often very willing to change the way they presented their documents. I think it’s important to have open conversations about this issue because by discussing these topics, we trivialize discussions about dyslexia in the workplace. This is important not only to raise awareness about dyslexia, but also to allow people with other learning difficulties or disabilities to discuss what adjustments they would also find helpful.

The path to follow

I am proud of what I have accomplished in work and in education. For example, since the beginning of my legal career, I have been involved in three cases before the Supreme Court. I could not have reached this stage of my career without the support I received. However, I’m particularly pleased with how people are willing to listen to some of the challenges I’ve faced and want to make the workplace more inclusive for neurodivergent people. I am therefore very happy that my firm has set up a Disability Committee of which I am a member. Together we are working on ways to promote change and increase understanding of this area.