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Old 06-16-2019, 02:01 PM
Location: Reno, NV
1,508 posts, read 700,817 times
Reputation: 1938


When I was a GED tutor years ago, I had students who were functionally illiterate - could read individual words or at least sound out the harder ones, but couldn't understand a full text. But never someone who couldn't read at all.

Old 06-16-2019, 02:15 PM
17,649 posts, read 4,055,214 times
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I had a girlfriend who could not read.
Old 06-16-2019, 02:21 PM
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,561 posts, read 3,001,676 times
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I've met many who were functionally illiterate - had minimal reading and writing skills but barely past filling out a basic job application or the like.

I can only recall one man who was illiterate, a regular bank customer in his fifties. One day, trying to help him sort out an issue and pointing to some instructions on a form, he told me in an embarrassed whisper that he could not read. He had before "forgotten his glasses" etc. to get out of such dilemmas.

My mother taught high school ESL during the influx of Vietnamese refugees. She had families, mostly Hmong, who were generationally illiterate.
Old 06-16-2019, 02:23 PM
15,517 posts, read 13,509,459 times
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You would be hard pressed, if not impossible, to find someone who could not read at all. People will normally pick up this no matter what and where they are. They would have to be living in a cave, disability issues, or actually make an effort to be illiterate in a place they live to the point of not being able to read anything.
Old 06-16-2019, 02:46 PM
Location: Aurora Denveralis
8,561 posts, read 3,001,676 times
Reputation: 12765
Originally Posted by boxus View Post
You would be hard pressed, if not impossible, to find someone who could not read at all. People will normally pick up this no matter what and where they are. They would have to be living in a cave, disability issues, or actually make an effort to be illiterate in a place they live to the point of not being able to read anything.
I think you're dismissing a very real issue, and would not have to go far - outside of a university campus or upscale neighborhood - to find someone who can't read more than things like stop signs and two- or three-word guide phrases they have likely learned as icons, not words.

Children who are not read to, and given things to read, are at great risk of functional illiteracy if not something much more severe, especially if there is any kind of disability from undiagnosed vision problems to dyslexia to mild retardation. They learn by middle elementary school to get around demands/need for reading, and by the time anyone pays close attention, they are limited for life.
Old 06-16-2019, 03:10 PM
Location: on the wind
7,072 posts, read 2,899,892 times
Reputation: 23934
Functionally illiterate yes. Whether these individuals were truly illiterate or not couldn't say. The women had gotten roped into joining a demonstration/public hearing by their blue collar husbands. When I started talking to them and answering questions before the hearing started I realized they couldn't read the dumbed-down basic materials available and barely understood the controversy at all. All they knew was what their husbands deigned to tell them. Language was not the reason and it wasn't just one individual with an impairment. Quite an eye opener.

Last edited by Parnassia; 06-16-2019 at 03:22 PM..
Old 06-17-2019, 07:51 AM
Location: Texas
35,216 posts, read 19,266,750 times
Reputation: 20835
Have you ever met someone in the US who was illiterate?
Functional illiteracy isn't uncommon.

Lots of folks can read what's on a typed page without being able to absorb it.
Old 06-17-2019, 08:35 AM
Location: Middle America
36,588 posts, read 41,867,584 times
Reputation: 50388
I taught special ed for years, and definitely had students who could not read.

My grandmother is in her 80s, has dyslexia and dysgraphia (now coded as specific learning disability with impairment in reading and written expression).

Learning disorders are typically an interaction of genetic and environmental factors, which affect the brain’s ability to perceive or process verbal or nonverbal information efficiently and accurately.

With people who have deficits in reading and writing, their abilities to read single words accurately and fluently can be factors, or they may have solid decoding abilities but impaired comprehension. In writing, spelling may be an issue, as well as accurate sentence construction.

People with literacy problems who do not have learning disabilities may have issues rooted in factors such as intellectual disabilities, uncorrected visual or auditory acuity, other mental or neurological disorders, lack of proficiency in the language of academic instruction, or inadequate educational instruction. In the case of my grandmother, the last item applied...poverty and lack of access to adequate schooling (post-depression-era Appalachia), and her reading and writing deficits were not correctly diagnosed as a learning disability until later in life.
Old 06-17-2019, 08:58 AM
Location: Las Vegas
13,877 posts, read 25,302,878 times
Reputation: 26334
I have probably known several people who were illiterate. But only one for sure. He wasn't dumb and somehow he did manage to get a driver's license. He always had a job/worked. He seemed to be able to order food. I think he memorized words he needed to be able to recognize in print. He probably had some sort of learning disability that had never been diagnosed. I felt very sorry for him because not being able to read limited his life.
Old 06-17-2019, 09:30 AM
661 posts, read 195,966 times
Reputation: 1799
I've worked with people over the years who were illiterate. They worked menial or factory type jobs, were older (went to school back in the days when it was more common for a child to be "passed along" to the next grade--especially if they were athletic), and usually had a buddy or two who was able to help them to navigate the world in terms of applying for jobs, etc.

My mother is a volunteer for a school reading intervention program and has one student in particular who, at eight years old, is borderline illiterate. From what she describes (she's a retired teacher herself), it seems as though he has some sort of an unnamed learning disability (he's been repeated tested for them by the school) combined with a lack of a home life that includes a parent who is either educated or values education for their children. She worries greatly about what sort of a future that will have if he is unable to master such a basic life skill as reading.

I've seen kids like this young boy do okay in a limited way in their adult lives if they are sweet-natured and generally hard-working (this child has both traits), stay within a small community where everyone knows them working menial jobs, and partner with/marry someone who can "run interference" for them when it comes to things that require that a person be literate.
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