It’s a safe bet that if you clicked the link to visit this post, you’re able to read. Learning that people aren’t able to read and write is usually a shocking experience. For many of us, reading and writing is something that everyone is able to do, something that is as natural as breathing. However, statistics show that this is not the case. Almost 30% of Mid-Southerners are unable to read at a 3rd grade level.
Even if someone reads at or above a third grade level, they can still face problems–most things that we read in our daily lives are written for intermediate or advanced readers. As a literacy organization, part of our work is to create understanding between those people who are able to function as literate citizens, and those who are not. So today, we’ll be listing the top 10 things that literate people can take for granted. This is not a list to shame people for being able to read. Instead, think of it as a spotlight that shows some tasks and activities that are difficult for the people that we serve.
1. The Joy of Reading for Pleasure
How do you feel when you hear that your favorite author has written a new book? Or when you snap open a newspaper and settle down to read the news? For low literate people, reading for the sheer pleasure of reading is difficult to impossible.
2. Navigating Roads and Cities
It took us by shock when we realized how dependent we are on street signs, text-based landmarks, and our navigation systems to navigate roads and streets. Low literate individuals have to rely on coping strategies such as visual markers and route memorization.
3. Ordering Food From a Text-Only Menu
When a restaurant menu is text only, it can be difficult for low-literate adults to figure out what certain foods are, or what their ingredients are. This can cause a problem with enjoying food or with low literate adults who have food allergies, among other things.
4. Researching Information Online
While low literate adults can possess some savviness with mobile phones and technology, that skill is limited by their reading ability. When it comes to finding information about important things online, low literate adults can face significant difficulties locating information and understanding the information that they are able to find is a problem as well.
5. Working in your desired field
Literate individuals have the ability to search for jobs that they want and the educational qualifications to actually stand a chance at getting jobs that they want. Low literate individuals, however, are most often relegated to service careers which, while important, tend to be temporary and unfulfilling.
6. Helping Children With Homework
One of the most frequent goals of the low literate adults that we serve is the desire to help their children with their homework. Without the ability to read at an adequate level, many low literate adults are unable to help their children complete their homework assignments, which also has an effect on their children’s educational attainment.
7. The Ability to Pursue Niche Education Opportunities
Speaking of education, one of the cool things about the these days is that literate people can pursue all kinds of nontraditional educational opportunities, like online education, auditing university courses, and education via mobile apps. Low literate people are frequently unable to take advantage of these educational opportunities.
Voting is a massively important tool for creating social changes. And while low literate adults can gain understanding about candidates and issues via conversations, their reading ability can block them from gaining that deeper understanding and reaching truth about the stances of candidates and how issues affect them.
9. Receiving Birthday Cards
Even though a birthday card isn’t a complex work of literature, it can still be a difficult task to read the short messages on birthday cards. This can ruin the enjoyment of receiving them. Fortunately, you can always put money in birthday cards.
10. Agency in Interacting with the World
Ultimately, one of the biggest privileges that literacy grants people is the ability to obtain enough information to choose their course in life. Whatever course a literate person decides to take, as long as they’ve bothered to inform themselves on it (and it is something that they can actually control), they have agency in the direction that they’ve decided to go. For low literate adults, much of the agency that information via literacy would provide to them is lost. Therefore, it is important for literate adults and the literate society at large to attempt to change things for the better. Without our help, low literate adults face countless difficulties in navigating our rapidly evolving worlds. And without the ability to make sense of the information presented around them, they lose out on pursuing and attaining their dreams.
Literacy Mid-South provides literacy resources to Mid-South learners of all ages and backgrounds. Our vision is 100% literacy in the Mid-South. Visit our website to learn more about our programs and mission.