1 in 6 people live with poor literacy in the UK.
And so begins a downward spiral of knock-on effects. Poor literacy, poor educational development, poor chances in the job market, poor earnings opportunities, poor ability and desire to pass on learning (and literacy) to children...
Literacy provides words, words that are key to so many aspects of life.
Words for Life.
This is the strap-line of the National Literacy Trust. Founded by Sir Simon Hornby, the former Chairman of W.H.Smiths, the National Literacy Trust campaigns to increase the awareness and understanding of the importance and vital role of literacy. They implement literacy projects in areas with high literacy problems; they campaign for greater political and parental awareness of the role of literacy; and they provide much needed support and resources for schools.
Now much can be learnt and communicated through visual imagery and there are many things that can only truly be learnt through experience, hands on practice. But these things are not in isolation within an individual's life. Life involves communicating across many mediums, but reading and writing is intrinsic to development and in many cases survival. It's not just about being able to get jobs, so you can earn money and contribute to the economy and provide your own acceptable standards of life. It is about the enrichment of us as individuals, our self-esteem, our well-being, our own sense of worth.
Imagine not being able to experience the world through a book, or even other-worlds taking our minds to places of wonderment, fabricated and fabulous, dark and mysterious, alive and adorned with amazement. That seems a shame, sad.
Imagine not being able to read text messages and Facebook updates, not be able to tweet or email friends and family. Imagine not being able to read a letter or birthday card. That seems a real shame, really sad.
Imagine not being able to read a menu or the cooking instructions on food. Imagine not being able to read safety warnings on medication. Imagine not being able to read a job advert or write a letter. Now that is a shame, that is sad.
Imagine being to scared to apply for jobs. Imagine feeling to stupid to ask about the medications on a shelf. Imagine feeling isolated from friends and family. Now that is a real shame, that is very sad.
Literacy goes deep for those of us that are literate, a take-for-granted-kind-of-deep.
Illiteracy goes even deeper, a taken-from-us-kind-of-life-line.
Organisations such as the National Literacy Trust are vital in educating those literate and illiterate. We are privileged to have had the opportunity to become fluently literate, making it second nature to us. We are lucky to have not had hurdles that have prevented our literacy development. So it is equally important to teach us about the facts and the issues of literacy development and those 'word walls' that are barriers to those less fortunate.
Take a look. Have a word. We can all help.
Find out more about the work of the National Literacy Trust >