About Literacy

What is literacy?

The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 defines literacy as "an individual's ability to read, write, speak in English, compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job, in the family of the individual and in society." This is a broader view of literacy than just an individual's ability to read, the more traditional concept of literacy. As information and technology have increasingly shaped our society, the skills we need to function successfully have gone beyond reading, and literacy has come to include the skills listed in the current definition.

How is adult literacy measured?

When literacy was simply a synonym for reading skill, it was typically measured in grade-level equivalents. In other words, an adult's literacy skill was described as equivalent to reading at a grade in the kindergarten-12th grade system.

What are learning disabilities and what is their relationship to literacy?

Learning disabilities (LD) include a wide variety of disorders that are thought to be neurological in origin and that affect one or more of the basic processes involved in understanding or using spoken or written language. Adults who have difficulties with listening, thinking, speaking, reading, or writing are likely to experience problems that significantly affect their academic achievement and their lives in general. Estimates of LD in the general population range from 3 to 13 percent. Among adults with low literacy levels, the estimates are much higher - between 30 and 80 percent.

COABE Video: Importance of literacy