New stats good step forward in portraying Canada's complex adult literacy landscape, says ABC CANADA

    TORONTO, Jan. 10 /CNW/ - New findings about the reading ability of
Canadian adults who are most greatly challenged by low literacy - released
yesterday in Learning Literacy in Canada: Evidence from the International
Survey of Reading Skills by Statistics Canada - underscore the extent and the
complex nature of our country's literacy dilemma.
    "This is a welcome study that begins to paint a fuller picture of the
nine million Canadian adults who struggle, to some degree, with low literacy,"
says Margaret Eaton, President of ABC CANADA.. "It makes it clear that -
unlike the often-held myth that we have scads of people who cannot read at all
- Canada is populated by many people in diverse circumstances and with
different reading and comprehension needs."
    The findings are based on the results of the 2005 International Study of
Reading Skills (ISRS) which administered clinical reading tests to 1,585
English-speaking and 1,382 French-speaking Canadian adults, all of whom had
participated in an earlier 2003 study by Statistics Canada and the
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that determined,
in broad terms, the literacy levels of Canadian adults, age 16 to 65. This new
study looked at the participants' reading ability in terms of word
recognition, vocabulary, listening comprehension, and general reading
processing skills. Knowing their proficiencies in these areas, the ISRS study
was able to profile the specific learning needs of different groups of adults.

    ABC CANADA announces more analysis

    "There is an absolutely crucial need for adult Canadians to have access
to the literacy help they require, regardless of their geographical location
or socio-economic circumstance, and this study is a great first step in
understanding where help of a particular kind is needed," adds Eaton. "ABC
CANADA will continue to study these findings, and we intend to follow with
some further analysis of the data." That further analysis will provide more
detail about the learning needs of each group of people, as well as
demographic information - income, education level, number of children and
employment status, for example - that should help literacy practitioners match
their programs to those learning needs and promote their services. This
investigation is supported along with partners Canadian Council on Learning,
Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network, Canadian Public Health
Association, and the National Collaborating Centre on the Determinants of
Health at St. Francis-Xavier University.
    A detailed picture of Canada's literacy needs will serve to understand
best where investments in literacy need to be made in the workplace and in the
community. "Those investments are critical," says Eaton, "to rectify a
situation where too many adult Canadians do not possess the skills to realize
their full potential and where Canada's competitiveness is compromised."

    ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation is Canada's private-sector voice
championing adult literacy. The national charity's initiatives and campaigns
are focused on bringing about meaningful change to raise Canadian adult
literacy skills. It envisions a Canada where individuals, regardless of their
circumstances, are provided the opportunities to increase those skills that
prepare people for realizing their full potential at work, at home and in the

For further information:

For further information: Jim Pollock, Director of Communications, ABC
CANADA Literacy Foundation: (416) 218-0010, ext. 126, cell: (416) 524-8267,

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ABC Life Literacy Canada

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