Literacy Facts

  • According to the International Adult Literacy Survey, “Literacy is defined as the ability to understand and employ printed information in daily activities, at home at work and in the community to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.”
  • Literacy is a use it or lose it skill.
  • Literacy is not an all or nothing proposition. The question is not “Can you read?” but “How well do you read?”
  • Unemployment is three times more likely for people with low literacy skills.
  • Literacy programs are reaching less than 5% of those requiring literacy training.
  • Children of adults with low literacy skills start school at a disadvantage due to a lack of exposure to pre-literacy activities.
  • Adults with low literacy skills have developed many coping mechanisms and are often able to disguise the problem.
  • Low literacy is most common among seniors. Literacy instruction for seniors results in better independence, improved health care, and improved safety.
  • People who are on social assistance are more likely to have low literacy skills.
  • Improved literacy skills increase their chances for success in the job market.
  • Increased literacy results in lower health care costs, less dependence on social assistance, decreased unemployment, and an overall lower cost to society.

What can you do to support Literacy?

  • Promote reading
  • Support friends who want to participate in a literacy program
  • Support local literacy programs by volunteering as a tutor
  • Donate money or equipment to your local literacy program
  • Be informed about the literacy needs of adults in your community
  • Have a guest speaker on literacy at your club or group
  • Read with your child regularly
  • Read a book instead of watching television
  • Ensure that printed material, brochures and signs are in plain language
  • Spread the word about literacy programs in your area, to co-workers, friends, and colleagues
  • Be sensitive to people who may have difficulty reading