I recently became aware of a situation to which I had give no serious thought over the years. Most of you probably have also given little real thought to it.
A report from CBS- Detroit asserts that 47% of Detroiters are semiliterate.
The definition of semiliterate used by the Detroit Workforce Fund study CBS cited is that this person can not, for example, fill out a bank deposit slip accurately, or understand properly a prescription label. The same study rated Pontiac, Mi at 34% semi-literate, and Southfield, a much more affluent Oakland county suburb at 24%.
National studies have, in 2002 and 2006, cited 41% as functionally illiterate. The definitions used differ only in small ways from the Detroit study. Other studies show that 14,000,000 adults in the USA are illiterate. Out of a population of 310.000.000 with about 230,000,000 adults, this is a percentage of about 7% completely illiterate, and does not count those who are semi-illiterate.
I confess that I was intellectually aware of this problem, but it had no reality in my everyday world of educated mostly middle and upper class people. I did not know anyone who was not literate. It is quite possible that someone I know has managed to hide this problem. The devices which adults use to mask illiteracy are many and quite effective.
At my father’s funeral 30 years ago, three men shared with me that my father had helped them learn to read and write. I never knew until then that he was involved in this. He never mentioned it to me, and it was never discussed in our home.
I encourage you to investigate the literacy projects found almost everywhere in the USA. Volunteers are in short supply, and there is rarely enough to meet the demand. Helping adult and English as a second language (ESL) students may be a satisfying effort for you. Check it out.