Reading and Writing: the Forgotten 12 million

Jon Cohen


Who are they?

The people discussed in this paper are the 12 million adults in the UK whose first language is English, but who have a reading and writing age between 9 and 14. This represents almost a third of the adult population. It is a large and diverse audience. Yet all have literacy issues which in some way limit their lives.

How they Feel About Reading and Writing

Importantly, these people can read and write. They are not illiterate or necessarily interested in improving their skill levels. Indeed, they may be pretty comfortable as they are, and not publicly acknowledge that they have a problem. They may not even be aware of any need to change existing behaviour patterns. But many are likely to feel isolated and defined by their skills deficit. They will have almost certainly developed strategies to cover up the fact that they are limited in reading and writing.