Via Wikipedia, I stumbled across the staggering estimation that 100,000 pupils each year in the UK leave school ‘functionally illiterate’ – i.e. they cannot read or write well enough to deal with the everyday requirements of life in our society.
This prompted me to start thinking about all the adults I know who have literacy issues.
I have three relatives (all successful business men) who are rather challenged in that department and rely on their wives and secretaries to effectively interpret for them. These men were failed by their village school around half a century ago – and yet we’re still churning out teenagers who don’t have the tools to cope, especially in today’s fast moving world where online form filling is taking over and the days of the secretary and stay-at-home wife are on the way out.
Then there’s another relative who is very literate, but takes three times longer than everyone else to read stuff as I think he might be an undiagnosed dyslexic. Therefore he reads on a ‘need to know’ basis rather than for pleasure.
My point is, if we’re churning out 100,000 people a year that struggle with literacy (and at least with the older generation this appears to cross class and wealth boundaries) – how much of your target audience just won’t be able to read your carefully crafted, copy heavy campaign?
And don’t get me started on how, with the aid of a few lessons at the local library, everyone in Britain (however illiterate they may be) is supposed to be online by 2012…