6 Ways To Effectively Communicate With A Person With Dyslexia

Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by Editorial Team


Dyslexia is a learning disorder that is associated with difficulties in developing reading, writing, and spelling skills. Being a learning disability, there are several support groups, resources, and tools that can make grasping and learning better, but what about communication?  

Are there some ways to help these individuals understand and communicate better and more effectively? This is a question that needs to be addressed because one of the significant challenges includes trouble communicating with others, and it is equally difficult for people around them to communicate with them. 

On this note, we gathered some information about the same. In this post, we talk about the few efficacious ways you can use to communicate with individuals with this learning disability so that there is no minimum ambiguity! 

How to communicate with a dyslexic person?

How to communicate

You need to keep in mind that people with dyslexia might not exactly be receptive to communication in the same manner that you are used to. Just like you would have to take necessary measures to communicate with someone who might not speak your language, there are some things you can do to enhance communication with people who have dyslexia. 

1. Be Calm

Patience can go a long way to help ease a difficult situation when communicating with a dyslexic person. Such is proven by Uzoekwe Helen E. in the research[1], where he researches and states that teachers should be loving and patient towards children with dyslexia. He also studies and proves that the studying environment changes and becomes calm and learning-worthy for these individuals when the teachers and peers are loving and patient. 

It is easy to feel annoyed when things are not going your way; you might feel frustrated with the communication discrepancies that persist despite your constant efforts to mend the gaps. To adapt to such situations, it is advisable to develop habits and practice methods that would be helpful to you. Learn to be assertive and not aggressive in stressful situations, be clear and articulate but refrain from being defensive and passive. Be more understanding and optimistic because the person next to you is also going through a similar and confusing experience.

2. Demonstrate What You Can’t State

Ever wondered how visual cues can be an effective tool for individuals with dyslexia? Myra Thiessen[2] researches and states how visual cues can be used to reduce ambiguity and to create meaning in visual explanations. Using virtual cues in actions rather than verbal ones can help in communicating with a person with dyslexia to a substantial extent.  If you are having difficulty explaining something while talking to an individual with dyslexia, find methods with which you could demonstrate the ideas you want to communicate.

When people overload a bunch of information into their minds, it bewilders them. Instead of repeating what you said, it would be better to show them how it’s done once. This would save both parties from an unwarranted and stressful situation.

3. Pay Attention To How You Write

In this fast-paced world, we operate heavily on methods of written communication – emails, texts, printouts, articles, and more. Constantly skipping from one thing to the next, we often don’t pay attention to our small, seemingly harmless ways that might be a hindrance to other people. Writing in illegible or small fonts is an example of how dyslexic people’s needs might be ignored.   

For this purpose, people now are indulging in using dyslexia-friendly fonts which is beneficial as proven in research. In a study[3] by Ricardo Baeza-Yates, it was found that Sans serif, monospaced, and Roman font styles significantly improved the reading performance over serif, proportional, and italic fonts. Apart from this, there are various dyslexia-friendly fonts available that make it easy for them to break apart the words and understand the context more easily. Another way to make a written document easier for dyslexic people to understand is by using different colors to group similar contents together.

4. Listen and Ask

The first and foremost rule of any form of communication is to listen. As easy as it sounds, listening is a skill that is developed over time. Most people listen to speak, not understand. It is important to listen and understand the needs of a dyslexic person to communicate effectively. 

If you have trouble understanding their position, do not hesitate to ask. Most people are open to having conversations that spare them from being subjected to unwanted prejudices. Do not let a few moments of awkwardness misdefine your entire relationship. Listen attentively, ask respectfully, and understand them better.

5. Use Appropriate Gestures

Non-verbal communication is a perfect complement to verbal communication. Gestures play a vital role in producing effective language and enabling better understanding. The same is proven in research by Astrid Unhjem. This study[4] also states that gestures increase the rate of understanding by 61%. For people with dyslexia, gestures are helpful in improving their comprehension of a given situation. Make sure to use right-hand movements. Speaking something else and pointing towards another thing will do no good but would instead create room for misunderstanding. 

One basic way to improve nonverbal communication is by making sure that you do not hide your face or turn to another side while speaking. This is only to help them read your lips. Facial expressions and lip movements are beneficial in understanding someone when they are speaking.

6. Use the right tone

People use voice modulation in their speech to make it more impactful. Adjusting their voice to synchronize it to their words enables the listeners to understand them better. This also helps dyslexic people in processing the meaning at a faster pace. 

Moreover, research by Catherine C. B. Griffiths[5], it is proved that Social interaction requires an individual to process language at speed by using working memory efficiently, in order to understand the intended.

While interacting with a dyslexic person, refrain from using sarcasm or irony as it just adds to the confusion. This is because being on-point and speaking in clear and crisp sentences works best with them. Otherwise, the satirical tone can obstruct the other person from understanding the intended meaning behind the message. Apart from using the right tone, make sure that your voice is clear and there is no background noise that could disrupt the meaning or hinder the correct delivery of the message.

Dyslexia And Communication: Difficulties you might expect

You might have some apprehensions when it comes to communicating with people suffering from dyslexia. Here is what you need to keep in mind: 

  • Dyslexic people have trouble understanding fast or vague speech[6]. It is essential to maintain a similar pace while conversing with them because it allows them to adapt better and thus process faster than they are used to. Uttering unclear words or phrases in between the speech will cause more chaos in the recipient’s mind. Therefore, keep the rate of speech moderate and do not speak very fast.
  • The scoffing tone and the use of sarcasm are common and widespread in our generation. However, for individuals with dyslexia, it might be inconvenient. This is because they are more adept at translating the intended meaning of any speech in literal terms. Therefore, to avoid any sort of ambiguity, you should make sure that you are speaking clearly, and in a normal tone to make them understand what you are trying to convey.
  • Incorporating difficult phrases into the speech makes it difficult for a person with dyslexia to understand the meaning. They find literal meanings more accessible. So when someone says ‘bite the bullet,’ or ‘break a leg,’ they process it in literal terms instead of using it as a phrase. The language used while communicating with people with dyslexia should be easy and broken into smaller segments to make the context understandable. Using longer words or difficult idioms should be avoided. 

Teaching requires effective communication too!

Teaching requires effective communication
  • Teaching dyslexic students requires immense patience and the right communication techniques. Therefore, educators and parents should be careful about how they communicate with the individuals to make sure that each and every word they are speaking is comprehensible and retainable.
  • However, even effective communication at times might not be enough to explain difficult topics in an approachable manner. With some additional help and support from teachers and people around them, individuals with dyslexia are able to navigate their study courses relatively faster and in an easier way.
  • The International Dyslexia Association has issued a very accessible handbook targeted at the teachers. It recommends and illustrates a structured approach while teaching dyslexic students. The study approach is very gradual and follows an ascending order in difficult terms; the students can always trust the course to go forward in the most logical sequence, making it easier for them to connect one topic to the next.
  • Moreover, parents and educators can employ plenty of online tutoring services to ensure that concepts are efficaciously conveyed so that the learning is proper. Besides, various spelling programs and activities can also be used to make learning easier. 
  • Every student has a different comprehension level and needs, and every student appreciates feeling accepted and understood despite those differences. It is the duty of the teacher to create an inclusive environment in the classroom, whether by breaking down the class into small groups of students to teach them individually or by incorporating new methods in the larger general education classroom.
  • Some ways to foster a healthier and safer environment in a classroom include creating a clear schedule and following it consistently to avoid any unnecessary confusion, giving appropriate time to students to process the study material at their own pace, using assistive technology to teach more insightfully and highlighting the relevant information in different colors for more easy comprehension.

Concluding thoughts

A learning disorder can really cloud the communication process and make it difficult for the individual to perceive as well as express[7]. But with the right support and help from the people around, it becomes easier to manage. The first step to establishing a dyslexia-friendly environment is to devise methods that would enable easy and understandable communication. Though it is not an easy task, it is highly fruitful as the people who once failed to understand the teacher due to miscommunication are now able to learn from them. 

We might not understand or comprehend the condition to the fullest, but we can be supportive and empathetic to those who face it. Through awareness and collective behavioral modifications, we can make a difference and be a more inclusive community.


  1. Helping Dyslexia Children Succeed in Primary Schools. (2018). Uzoekwe Helen E.
  2. Visualizing Meaning: Literacy Materials for Dyslexic Children. (2008). Myra Thiessen. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-87730-1_56
  3. Good fonts for dyslexia. (2013, October). Ricardo Baeza-Yates. https://doi.org/10.1145/2513383.2513447
  4. Early communicative gestures and play as predictors of language development in children born with and without family risk for dyslexia. (2014). Astrid Unhjem. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12118
  5. Pragmatic abilities in adults with and without dyslexia: a pilot study†. (2007). https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.333
  6. Ramirez, J. & Mann, Virginia. (2010). Speech problems in dyslexia: Evidence from auditory and visual speech perception. Speech Disorders: Causes, Treatment and Social Effects. 289-309.
  7. Friend, Angela & Pennington, Bruce & Smith, Shelley & Gilger, Jeffrey. (2013). Dyslexia and Related Communication Disorders. Emery and Rimoin’s Principles and Practice of Medical Genetics. 1-22. 10.1016/B978-0-12-383834-6.00113-0.

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