Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Danger! Many don't─or can't─read

How many of those you write for or to can't read? Or don't take the time to read? We have turned into a nation of scanners. That's not a bad thing─too much is coming at us and we just don't have enough time to read. But time is just one issue. Another is the issue of adult literacy. When you have the time, you can read all the statistics gathered by U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics in the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL). Here's just one startling quote:

"One measure of literacy is the percentage of adults who perform at four achievement levels: Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient. In each type of literacy, 13 percent of adults were at or above Proficient (indicating they possess the skills necessary to perform complex and challenging literacy activities) in 2003. Twenty-two percent of adults were Below Basic (indicating they possess no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills)."

When I lead workshops on writing, I stress three key issues:
• Make sure your audience can see the relevance to them─quickly!
• Make it easy to scan
• And edit, edit, edit

Do I dare say it? Write on!

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