Most children who struggle with reading, spelling, and writing do NOT get the right type of help in school. So they grow into adults who don’t read well.
Without the right type of reading instruction, most adults with dyslexia – no matter how smart they are – can’t read or write above the third-grade level.
In the United States, that is considered functionally illiterate. At the third-grade level, they don’t read well enough to fill out a job application, read a memo from their boss, pass the drivers license test, write a note to their child’s teacher, or read their child a bedtime story.
Their job options – and earning power – are limited, their success in college is rare, and they drop out of high school at a much higher rate than the national average.
The good news is that it is NEVER too late to improve the reading, spelling, and writing skills of adults with dyslexia.
Two types of organizations provide FREE tutoring to adults who read, write, or spell below an eight-grade level:
- Adult or Family Literacy Programs – based in public libraries
- Adult or Family Literacy Programs – through churches or synagogues
Both of these programs use volunteer tutors. In fact, Susan Barton started as a volunteer tutor in a library-based Adult Literacy Program.
She created the Barton Reading & Spelling System with volunteer tutors in mind. To be effective with adults who have dyslexia, volunteer tutors need an Orton-Gillingham-based program that provides good and consistent training along with scripted lesson plans. So that’s what Susan Barton created. Nothing in the Barton System will offend an adult student.
Many Adult Literacy Programs have discovered that the Barton Reading & Spelling System is an ideal way to quickly train volunteer tutors to work with adults who have, or may have, dyslexia – which is the most common learning disability.
If you are an Adult Literacy Coordinator and don’t know how to tell which of your adult students may have dyslexia, ask the students how many of the warning signs of dyslexia they remember from childhood. Or ask them these questions during an information interview.
If your adult students have many of those warning signs, the Barton System is a great way to improve their reading, writing, and spelling. And our tutor training DVDs provide an easy and consistent way to train volunteer tutors. Plus we offer free unlimited support to every tutor using the Barton System.
What they say
To see what Adult Literacy Program Coordinators and tutors say, click here.
The “Adult Literacy in America” study initiated by Congress in 1988 and reported upon in 1993 was a $14 million 5-year study by the National Assessment Governing Board in conjunction with the National Center for Educational Statistics based upon lengthy interviews with 26,000 adults from 16 to 65 years old in a dozen states.
They reported in 1993 that 92 million Americans – over 47 % of adults read and write so poorly that it is difficult for them to hold a decent job.
Click here to see that study.
Click here to see shocking statistics from ProLiteracy.
High School Graduation Rate
In 1997-98, only 30.5% of students with specific learning disabilities graduated with a standard diploma. (U.S. Department of Education, pIV-17, Table IV-4)
According to the NIH, 80% of student with a specific learning disability actually have dyslexia.
An analysis of data from the National Adult Literacy Survey, 1992, found the following for adults with self-reported learning disabilities, ages 25-64:
The high school dropout rates were:
57.6% for men with self-reported learning disabilities, compared to 15.3% of men without self-reported learning disabilities. (Vogel, p55, Figure 3.6)
The consequences of low literacy skills:
In 1997, the poverty rate among children under age 6 whose best-educated parent had:
a high school degree was 29.2%;
some college was 15.2%; and
a college degree was 2.8%.
Inmates in American prisons have a four times greater percentage of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, than the general public.
U.S. Department of Education figures show that “75% of prison inmates and 85% of juveniles in correctional facilities are functionally illiterate.”
This compares to 47% of all adults in the U.S. who are functionally illiterate.
Illiteracy is a prison within a prison.
Statistics on the Corrections Educational System:
Canada has similar problems:
“When talking about illiteracy, we must also talk about poverty and unemployment. People with literacy problems in Canada have two-thirds the income of other Canadians, are twice as likely to be unemployed, and many times more likely to receive some form of social assistance. Jobs available to lower-literacy adults tend to be the lowest-paid, and the most insecure.”
National Anti-Poverty Organization:
NAPO Facts, October, 1992
How does literacy in the US compare with other countries?
The International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), a 1997 survey similar in design to the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), compared the literacy skills of adults in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The results showed that the US has more adults in Levels 1 and 2 than any of the other countries except Poland.
For a detailed report on the IALS, go to
Important sites on Adult and Family Literacy:
National Coalition for Literacy
But there are solutions for adults that even volunteer tutors in adult literacy programs can use.