Not many people know the difficulties illiteracy brings to everyday life. Imagine not being able to read a restaurant menu, understand your bank statement, or read hazard signs along the road. Even rudimentary literacy skills enable us to be self-sufficient, interact better with others, and contribute more to society. “The capacity to read and write is casually associated with earning a living, achieving expanded horizons of personal enlightenment, maintaining a stable and democratic society, and historically, with the rise of civilization itself” (Szwed 3). Literacy events, any moment in which literacy plays a role, appear countless times each and every day, and it is difficult for those who cannot read or write to fully participate in these activities. Literacy plays a huge part in our interactions, our relationships, and our society’s growth.
Historically, “literacy has been viewed as a yes-and-no matter, easily determined: either one reads and writes or one doesn’t” (Szwed 5). People who lack the ability to read and write face immeasurable challenges. They have huge difficulty performing simple daily activities and, in professional settings particularly, lag behind their literate counterparts. Naturally, this inability causes psychological effects as well. Insecurities set in and they fill with anxiety when faced with tasks that literate people handle easily several times each day. While literacy skills vary greatly between individuals, those deemed “illiterate” experience a life filled with limitations. “Many literacy events in life are regular, repeated activities” and, unless they learn to read and write, these activities never get easier for illiterate people (Barton and Hamilton 23). “Some events are linked into routine sequences and these may be part of the formal procedures and expectations of social institutions like work-places, schools and welfare agencies” (Barton and Hamilton 23). While some illiterates receive
Cited: Szwed, John. “The Ethnography of Literacy”. Ethnographic Inquires In Writing. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2010. 3-15. Print. Barton, David and Hamilton, Mary. “Literacy Practices”. Ethnographic Inquires In Writing. Ed. Tabetha Adkins. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2010. 21-32. Print.