Literacy and why the world needs good tech writers (WAS An interesting article)

Subject: Literacy and why the world needs good tech writers (WAS An interesting article)
From: "Jennifer Rondeau" <jrondeau -at- fabtrol -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2003 12:37:44 -0700

from the website of the NIFL (National Institute For Literacy):

Very few adults in the US are truly illiterate. Rather, there are many
adults with low literacy skills who lack the foundation they need to find
and keep decent jobs, support their children's education, and participate
actively in civic life. Between 21 and 23 percent of the adult population,
or approximately 44 million people, according to the National Adult
Literacy Survey (NALS), scored in Level 1 (see description above). Another
25-28 percent of the adult population, or between 45 and 50 million
people, scored in Level 2. Literacy experts believe that adults with
skills at Levels 1 and 2 lack a sufficient foundation of basic skills to
function successfully in our society.

Many factors help to explain the relatively large number of adults in
Level 1. Twenty-five percent of adults in Level 1 were immigrants who may
have just been learning to speak English. More than 60 percent didn't
complete high school. More than 30 percent were over 65. More than 25
percent had physical or mental conditions that kept them from fully
participating in work, school, housework, or other activities, and almost
20 percent had vision problems that affected their ability to read print.
For more facts and statistics, visit the NIFL Literacy Facts page.


Read it and weep. Ignoring the excuse-making, let's explain-it-away hype,
at least 50% of American adults are functionally illiterate. Somehow, I
don't think the problem in the original article is either car seats or
their instructions.

Could explain something of why:

a) there is such a market, even in these hard times, for tech writers
WITHOUT specific tech skills

b) so few folks RTFM

BTW, if you look up the US of A on the cia factsbook website, Americans
enjoy (if that's the right word) 97% literacy.

Also -- those fifth-grade, eighth-grade, tenth-grade reading levels are
national standards, used by most state and local school boards. No Fog
Index here, I'm afraid.

and on that happy note, I'll go back to writing obscure documentation for
who knows who.

Jennifer Rondeau
FabTrol Systems, Inc.
jrondeau -at- fabtrol -dot- com


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