NLA Discussion: Learning disabilities, literacy and policy
agorman at ala.org
Tue Nov 25 11:59:04 EST 1997
Thanks, Glenn. Your observations show the need for very specific
research into the individual needs of people who come to adult literacy
and ABE programs for help. We need to get more real about what
exactly is needed for which proportions of these adult populations. We
also need a lot more on how to assess people to match the various
interventions and accommodations to each of them for the most
effective and least expensive outcomes.
Your comments also show clearly that we can't afford to think of
literacy as just an adult thing. The research shows us clearly that
earlier is better, cheaper and less painful for everyone concerned. I
know that family literacy efforts have been going on for some time. I
don't know much about effectiveness studies in this area. I know that
the LD factor has been left out of most of them, just for starters.
Anyway, it seems to me that we separate the age groups because of
the governance, funding, and "professional territory" issues (to try to
put it gently). What policy changes do we need to pull together for? To
which players and stakeholders at each level? With what vision of
improved literacy for the US and improved lives for the roughly half of
our population that has some kind of literacy problem?
Glenn's comments also brought me round to the question of welfare
reform, literacy programs, and the relative proportions of welfare
recipients who may need interventions that differ from what is usually
offered. I have no data whatsoever to base this on, but my gut reaction
is that the percentage of people in this group who need special
intervention will be even higher than we've seen in literacy/ABE
programs in the past. Suppose for a minute that 50-80% of people in
these programs up til now really did/do have LD and need phonemic
awareness training and the rest of what the research is finding. What
implications does this influx of welfare reform motivated people have for
how literacy programs do intake interviews, what kind of interventions
we offer, what we do about retention when the going gets rough?
Where's the extra funding coming from? And what expectations will
have been met in two years' time...and beyond? How can we help
funders and policy makers understand the realities of the situation?
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