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Cape Town - People living with dyslexia are discriminated against while looking for jobs in the legal industry. This is due to employers drafting advertisements in a way that excludes them.

These were some of the findings of a study by researchers from Stellenbosch University.

Monja Posthumus-Meyjes, an attorney at the Stellenbosch University Law Clinic, addressed the issue in a paper she wrote while obtaining her Master’s degree.

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“People with dyslexia are routinely discriminated against in job advertisements for the legal industry. The wording in advertisements greatly impairs or nullifies their chances to obtain positions and indirectly excludes them from being considered for jobs.”

Posthumus-Meyjes’s study addressed the exclusion of people with dyslexia who apply for jobs in the legal industry, and also evaluated whether such direct or indirect discrimination can be justified as an inherent job requirement and/or unjustifiable hardship to reasonably accommodate persons with dyslexia.

She analysed advertisements by some legal organisations in South Africa and also examined court cases that focused on whether the inherent requirements of a job could be seen as a form of indirect discrimination.

As a person with dyslexia who had to overcome great challenges pertaining to writing, reading and finding employment, Posthumus-Meyjes found that the wording in advertisements amounted to indirect discrimination on the basis of disabilities and that indirect discrimination was not rational, fair or justifiable.

“If a candidate is reasonably accommodated, he or she will be able to efficiently perform and measure up to the inherent requirements of the job.”

She points out that there are ways in which the legal industry can accommodate people with dyslexia.

“People with dyslexia, depending on their level of reading difficulty, can be accommodated by using dictation which is then transcribed by a secretary, or if they are required to do their own writing, special dyslexia fonts, special keyboards or even computer software can assist them with the writing process.”

The Red Apple Dyslexia Association said there was not enough support for those living with dyslexia.

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Cape Argus