When she was diagnosed, the doctors told her and her mother that she was stupid, mentally retarded, and would never be able to learn anything. They insisted she would fare better in a long-term care facility than in public school because she would never learn to progress through the grades. She made it to fifth grade.
This woman was not stupid. She was not mentally retarded. And, she was able to learn from verbal instruction and demonstration. As a matter of fact, she learned quickly, thoroughly, asked a lot of questions and participated in the learning process.
It is estimated that the problem of illiteracy in adults in the state of Arkansas is 20 percent. In my own area, the percentage is higher. Illiteracy effects quality of life significantly, to the point where it is impossible to find a job and raise children. It is extremely detrimental to self-esteem and well-being which causes social withdrawal and non participation. And the list goes on.
I find it difficult to imagine what life would be like without reading. I read anything I get my hands on. I read to learn, I read to explore, I read to relax, I read to fall asleep and I read to engage my brain. I read to write, and I write to read. Without the ability to read, I would not be me.
I imagine that most of us take our ability to read for granted. We don't think about reading the street name signs, or the names of stores we drive by. We read ingredients on labels along with product names, and we read the instructions on the microwave popcorn. We read to choose which level of octane in gas and read the headlines of magazines and newspapers as we wait in line at the grocery store. Without even thinking about it, we read the words on TV commercials, no matter how much we try to ignore them.
What would it be like for you if you couldn't read? Do you know anyone that can't read?
To find ways you can help, check out America's Literacy Directory.