The Malta Dyslexia Association (MDA), in collaboration with the Malta Employers’ Association, recently organised a conference entitled ‘Employment and dyslexia’. The principle aim of this conference was to address local pressing needs, namely awareness of dyslexia and its effects on careers and employment, as well as to act as a catalyst for change.

MDA president Carmen MuscatMDA president Carmen Muscat

This need arises not only from narratives of dyslexic adults on their experiences and challenges with employment but also from evidence-based research. Lack of knowledge and, at times, prejudice lead to a lack of disclosure resulting in loss of jobs for issues which could have been addressed by relevant employers and the workplace.

There is no legal requirement to disclose a disability. However, once the employer has been informed of an employee’s dyslexia or been given a copy of an assessment report, they are duty-bound to address it under the European laws of equality and opportunities for all.

The MDA meets many adults who lose their jobs due to a lack of knowledge of their prolife or a lack of understanding from employers. This also leads to the economy losing out on important talent and valid contribution. Reasonable adjustments are not a quick overnight process, as they also need a change in attitude. This, together with the promotion of knowledge and acknowledgement by the workplace, will lead to more disclosure, less stress and better performance at work.

The aim of this conference was to raise awareness among educators

The aim of this conference was to raise awareness among educators – including PSCD teachers, guidance teachers, career advisers and schools’ pastoral teams, employers, co-workers, parents and people with dyslexia.

The MDA’s president, Carmen Muscat, past president, Marchesa Vivien Cassar de Sain, and Clifton Grima, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sports, delivered welcome speeches. The keynote speakers were Prof. Arnold Wilkins and Kelly Kinsella.

Diverse themes such as ‘Dyslexia, further education and employment’, ‘Career guidance and counselling’ and ‘Human resources’ were discussed during workshop sessions. The event included narratives from adults with dyslexia in gainful employment, a forum for employers and a seminar for the public, including parents.

Members of the Malta Personal and Social Development Association delivered a workshop, together with PSCD education officers, given that career education is part of the PSCD syllabus. Other associations, such as the National Commission for Persons with Disability, the ADhD support group, Inspire, the Equal Partners Foundation and the Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility, joined in.

A number of other voluntary associations have worked and are working hard for people with neuro-diverse profiles to be gainfully employed. The MDA believes that, in order to be an integral part of civil society with the aim of developing a truly effective inclusive nation with a positive quality of life, we need to acknowledge the commitment and efforts of other associations and continue to network, support and work with other organisations.

The Malta-EU Steering & Action Committee core group was also invited. The MDA is aware that such contributions have a direct effect on the economy and general well-being of societies and nations. Supporting the work of voluntary organisations addresses issues of socio-economic sustainability. Voluntary organisations supporting each other will create a significant force against social exclusion and address social stratification.

Also, according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (2013), co-morbidity of profiles of specific learning difficulties is more the norm than the exception, so it is crucial that different organisations work in synergy to address people, as opposed to profiles.

The conference was well attended and participants commented positively. This augurs well to future inclusive work experiences for individuals with dyslexia.  

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