Functional Literacy

“Functional literacy refers to the capacity of a person to engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective function of his or her group and community and also for enabling him or her to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for his or her own and the community’s development.” —UNESCO Institute of Statistics

We believe functional literacy is essential for adults to have the best chance of success in three imporant areas of life: family, work, and health care. Read below for more information about the importance of family, job, and health literacy in today’s world.

Family Literacy

Research overwhelmingly shows that educated parents are more likely to raise educated children. Children who are educated have improved opportunities for future employment and are less likely to live in poverty or spend time prison. Even parents who have only basic literacy skills can make a big difference to their children’s future by engaging in family literacy activities like reading stories, taking family trips to the public library, and ensuring that homework assignments are completed. From the very beginning, our children’s attitudes about learning are shaped by adults in the home.

That’s why Literacy Action encourages all of our students – mothers, fathers, grandparents, or extended family members – to serve as role models and help make literacy an important part of a child’s value system.

Job Literacy

In today’s workplace, literacy levels and job skill development go hand in hand. Even jobs that were once considered lower skilled employment now demand that workers constantly exercise their ability to read, interpret,  and communicate information at higher levels than ever before.

Today’s workplace can be overwhelming for workers with below basic literacy skills. Without the reading skills necessary to participate in job training programs designed to prepare adults for family sustaining jobs, the outlook for these workers and their families is bleak.

Literacy Action helps adults by rebuilding confidence and teaching new literacy skills that will help workers to participate successfully in job training programs and find better paying jobs.

Health Literacy

Imagine you are a parent with a sick child. It’s the middle of the night, you have to go the pharmacy to buy medicine, but you can’t read. Which medicine will address the symptoms? What is the dosage? Does the store brand offer the same ingredients as the name brand? It’s one in the morning, and there is no one to call or ask for help.

On a daily basis, we are faced with decisions that affect our health and the healthcare of our family and friends. From choices about nutrition and immunizations  to chronic disease care and medical insurance, a certain level of literacy proficiency is required to navigate our healthcare system and interpret the information that will help us stay healthy.

It is estimated that the United States wastes billions of dollars a year due to poor health literacy. These are resources that could better be used to ensure access to quality healthcare for all of our citizens. Along with basic literacy instruction, Literacy Action incorporates practical health information into our curriculum, such as understanding information on food packaging, preparing for a trip to a medical clinic, or reading about how to manage chronic diseases such as hypertension, asthma and diabetes.