4 Facts from ProLiteracy’s Nationwide Adult Literacy Survey
Posted by Dee Cater on September 23, 2016 in categoryFacts & ResearchcategoryNewscategoryAdvocacycategoryMember Tips

4 Facts from ProLiteracy's Nationwide Adult Literacy Survey

We know that the adult literacy issue suffers from a lack of awareness, but how much does the average U.S. adult actually know about the issue? To find out, ProLiteracy conducted an omnibus survey study this summer to gather insight into public awareness of adult literacy and adult basic education. Here are four noteworthy insights from the nationwide study:

1) 37% of U.S. adults are still unaware that adult literacy is an issue in the United States

The lack of public awareness of the adult literacy issue is still concerning. Although overall awareness in the United States rose slightly from 59% in 2015 to 63% in 2016, we still have a long way to go. If people are unaware of the issue and the need, they are less likely to step forward to volunteer, donate, or refer an adult who needs literacy help.

2) Only 30% of U.S. adults claim to know someone who cannot read

70% of respondents said they do not personally know someone who cannot read. With 36 million—or 1 in 6—adults in the U.S. struggling with low literacy, most people, without realizing it, probably know an adult who can’t read. Many people have difficulty believing the extent of the problem of low literacy because it’s a problem that remains largely hidden. For many low-literate adults, the fact that they can't read a menu or write a check is a secret that they share with almost no one, and they master coping methods to hide the truth.

3) 83% of adults don’t know where to find adult literacy help in their communities

83% of respondents are not aware of adult literacy organizations in their communities, meaning local programs need to continue to create awareness of not only the adult literacy issue, but of the services that they provide.

4) Education follows healthcare as the most important social issue to U.S. adults

Survey respondents rated the importance of other social issues to them, including economic growth, poverty, education, health care, and unemployment. There is evidence that links these social issues and adult literacy. Besides helping adult learners improve their reading, writing, and math skills, adult education programs yield positive results in terms of employment skills, employment, earnings, lower criminal justice costs due to lower arrest rates, savings to crime victims because of fewer crimes committed, and less stress on the health care system.

Overall, the survey showed that we have an opportunity to educate the public about the adult literacy issue and the effect it has on important social issues. Awareness efforts such as Adult Education and Family Literacy Week and the adult literacy episode of Secret Lives of Americans are still needed to increase awareness. Projects like the National Literacy Directory are critical in informing adults where they can receive literacy help. Working together, we can continue to advocate on behalf of adult learners, increase awareness, and become a larger voice for literacy.

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Adult Literacy Public Opinion Survey Results


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