Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Monday, April 9, 2007
Monday, April 2, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
An Open Letter about Adult Literacy from the President of ProLiteracy Worldwide
Shocking. Frightening. Stunning. Shameful. Disastrous.
Talk show hosts and their callers and the national news media used these
words this week to describe the findings of a report on adult literacy.
Commissioned by the mayor of Washington, D.C., the report found that one
out of every three people living in the capital of one of the richest nations
of the world can barely read or write.
Even more surprising, the reporters announced, is the fact that one in
five adults in the U.S. is functionally illiterate - that's 30 million people
over the age of 16 who are unable to fill out a job application, follow a
bus schedule, or apply for a driver's license. What the media did not
mention is the fact that another 63 million adults read and write only
slightly better than the 30 million.
Yes, we should be shocked. Yes, we should be frightened. Low literate
adults are more likely than good readers to be unemployed or need public
assistance. They are uninformed consumers. They struggle to negotiate our
health care system. They cannot support their children's educational
But we should not be surprised.
We address our adult literacy issue primarily by making improvements in
the K-12 public school system. This is education's "dirty little secret" - it
is willing to sacrifice some 30+ million of today's adults in the hope that we
will grow our way out of the problem of adults with low literacy skills as
today's children mature.
This approach neglects several major factors. First, a substantial number
of adults with low literacy skills are adult immigrants who will never attend
our public schools. And the number of immigrants to the U.S. increases
every year. Second, the research is clear - children whose parents or caregivers
are literate grow up to become literate adults. Also, the growing numbers
of"dropout-pushout" students shows that, no matter how early children start
school and no matter how many interventions are applied, there still will
be a number of children at risk of becoming low literate adults. Are we
willing to sacrifice these young people as well?
Both parents and children are important parts of the learning equation.
But public and private funding for adult basic and literacy education covers
instruction for just 3 million adults a year. These programs, sponsored by
local education agencies (schools), and community-based organizations, are
not seen as an integral part of the nation's education strategy,
therefore, funding them is not essential.
Why is this so? Is it because many of the potential adult learners are
immigrants not all of whom are legal? Is it because many of the potential
learners are ex-offenders, substance abusers or have other major issues in
their lives? Is it because we often blame them for their situation, seeing
them as people who "failed to learn" as children? Or is it because they
represent this country's most marginalized population - those who earn
little, pay little taxes, do not vote and do not participate in the civic
and social affairs of their communities. They are unseen and unheard,
which is how they remain a secret.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Cold Stone Creamery
4110 Maple Road, Amherst
(next to Sweet Home Middle School)
Join us for an evening of fun and delicious ice cream as Cold Stone Creamery holds an Ice Cream Social to benefit Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo & Erie County.
A portion of the total sales will be donated directly to Literacy Volunteers. Help us continue to change lives, word by word!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Report: Patient illiteracy threatens health care
By Marie Skelton, USA TODAY
Miscommunications between patients and health care providers are increasing the chances that people who need medical care will be hurt or killed in the process, according to a report from a health care accreditation group.
While cultural and language barriers pose problems for patient-doctor communication, poor general literacy skills can be just as great an impediment, according to The Joint Commission, which accredits nearly 15,000 U.S. health care organizations and programs.
"The implications around all of this are huge if the patient doesn't understand what they have and what they're taking and why. You might be putting the patient in harm's way, and they could be killed," says Dennis O'Leary, president of the commission.
The commission held a news conference in February to present recommendations for health care providers, policymakers and consumers.
The recommendations include specific advice for educating and training health care professionals; using well-trained medical interpreters for patients with English comprehension difficulties; and encouraging a culture of easy-to-understand communication in all facets of medical care.
The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that 29% of the American population has only basic prose literacy skills, and 14% has below-basic skills. The below-basic figure includes 3% taking an alternative assessment because of language difficulties; another 2% weren't tested because they couldn't communicate in English or Spanish.
Prose literacy, as defined in the study, measures the skills needed to understand texts such as news stories, brochures and instruction manuals.
People with basic skills can perform simple, everyday literacy activities, while people with below-basic skills show proficiency in only the most simple and concrete literacy.
"When literacy collides with health care, the issue of health literacy — defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions — begins to cast a long patient safety shadow," the Joint Commission report says.
The report, noting that medical information is often filled with jargon, said that "even those who are most proficient at using text and numbers may be compromised in the understanding of health care information when they are challenged by sickness and feelings of vulnerability."
"When I was in medical school, no one even mentioned that someone might not understand what I was saying," O'Leary says. "Yet, more serious adverse events are caused by communication problems than any other thing."
Toni Cordell, a nationally known health literacy advocate who has been working with the commission, knows this only too well. Struggling with the effects of dyslexia and a poor education, Cordell went to see her gynecologist three decades ago and listened as he told her she would need surgery.
"He said that it was an easy repair. Unfortunately, I asked almost no questions except 'What day and time do we do this?' " she says.
It wasn't until she was in recovery and a nurse asked her how she was feeling after her hysterectomy that Cordell realized what had happened.
"Humiliation and shame washed over me. I have always felt, even to this day, disappointed in myself that I allowed it to happen in total ignorance.
Ignorance is not bliss; it's not a good place to be," she says.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Friday, February 9, 2007
YOU ARE INVITED TO COME & DISCOVER THE
POWER OF WORDS is a free one-hour event created to
provide the community with a better
understanding of our organization.
The dates for upcoming POWER OF WORDS are as follows:
We hope that you and/or your friends and colleagues will be able to
attend one of these events. This is a great way to meet some of our
staff and board members and get a tour of our historic building!
All events will take place in the Literacy Volunteers office
located at 1313 Main Street in Buffalo.
Please contact us at 876-8991 to let us know which date works best
Our mission and commitment is to improve the well being of families in Buffalo and Erie
County by providing reading, English language learning and literacy services to anyone
wishing to improve their literacy skills. We achieve this through recruiting, training and
supporting a dedicated group of volunteers who work one-on-one with adults or
children as tutors and mentors. Literacy Volunteers changes lives, word by word.
Wed., Feb. 7th 8:00AM Wed., May 23rd Noon
Wed., Feb. 14th Noon Wed., June 6th 8:00AM
Wed., Feb. 21st 6:00PM Wed., June 13th 6:00PM
Wed., March 7th 8:00AM Wed., June 20th Noon
Wed., March 14th 6:00 PM Wed., July 11th 8:00AM
Wed., March 21st Noon Wed., July 18th 6:00PM
Wed., April 4th 8:00AM Wed., July 25th Noon
Wed., April 18th 6:00PM Wed., Aug. 8th 8:00AM
Wed., April 25th Noon Wed., Aug. 15th 6:00PM
Wed., May 9th 8:00AM Wed., Aug. 22nd Noon
Wed., May 16th 6:00PM Wed., Sept. 8th 11:00AM