Literacy Definitions

Literacy: Literacy is the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.

Health Literacy: The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Healthy People 2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Three Types of Literacy:

Prose Literacy – The knowledge and skills needed to perform prose tasks (i.e., to search, comprehend, and use continuous texts). Examples include editorials, news stories, brochures, and instructional materials.

Document Literacy – The knowledge and skills needed to perform document tasks (i.e., to search, comprehend, and use noncontinuous texts in various formats). Examples include job applications, payroll forms, transportation schedules, maps, tables, and drug or food labels.

Quantitative Literacy – The knowledge and skills required to perform quantitative tasks (i.e., to identify and perform computations, either alone or sequentially, using numbers embedded in printed materials). Examples include balancing a checkbook, figuring out a tip, completing an order form, or determining the amount needed for something.

(Source: National Assessment of Adult Literacy)

Levels of Literacy:

Below Basic indicates no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills.

Basic indicates skills necessary to perform simple and everyday literacy activities.

Intermediate indicates skills necessary to perform moderately challenging literacy activities.

Proficient indicates skills necessary to perform more complex and challenging literacy activities.

(Source: Kutner,M.,Greenberg, E., Jin,Y., Boyle, B.,Hsu,Y., and Dunleavy, E. (2007). Literacy in Everyday life: Results From the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy(NCES 2007– 80).U.S.Department of Education.Washington,DC: National Center forEducation Statistics.)