A blog post about literacy, written by someone working at a Library, should be quite straight-forward… Yes?
Literacy is most commonly described as the ability to:
- read for knowledge
- write coherently
- think critically
In a technologically advanced country like Canada, the concept of literacy includes media and electronic text in addition to written words and numbers. In fact, broadly defined, literacy includes the ability to understand all forms of communication, including body language and pictures, video & sound (reading, speaking, listening and viewing).
Literacy is about learning and regardless of how it's achieved, I think we can all agree that it's a work-in-progress for everyone, and a goal worth working towards. Think of your life as a journey through literacy and the CNIB Library as your trusted sidekick!
For someone with a print disability, does it matter whether reading is accomplished by listening to DAISY books on CD or downloaded to an iDevice, using ZoomText to access e-text or via a refreshable braille display? Does it matter whether the writing is undertaken on a computer keyboard or through contracted braille? Does the means of accessing/producing the information affect the outcome (literacy)?
Interesting questions! For many adults, especially those who've lost access to print later in life due to vision loss, the answer would probably be no.
For children growing up (and being educated) with vision loss, CNIB's position is that being able to read and write braille is the key to literacy, successful employment, and independence. Read more about the importance of braille literacy. In fact the CNIB Library, with financial assistance provided by the Canadian Braille Literacy Foundation, runs an annual Braille Creative Writing Contest (cash prizes!) with the aim of encouraging kids to learn and use braille.
Whatever format you're using to read or write, make literacy a family affair and everyone gets to exercise and stretch their brain! Don't limit learning to school.
At the CNIB Library we think of every day as Family Literacy Day, but in 1999, ABC Life Literacy Canada picked January 27 as the day to celebrate adults and children reading and learning together.
Set a good example for kids you know by letting them know that you enjoy reading too! Play word games together, and challenge them to expand their vocabulary by listing words they know that start with different letters. Work together to follow a recipe to bake cookies, or make a grocery list. Don't forget that everyone needs to know how the grocery store is organized and how paying for groceries works too! A few suggestions, such as reading signs, posters and billboards when out for a walk, may need to be adapted for kids with vision loss. Suzi Newbold includes helpful suggestions in her article 'Creating Literacy Opportunities for Young Blind Children'.
In celebration of Family Literacy Day, the Canadian Children's Book Centre has compiled a list of Canadian books that share in the joys (and struggles) of families of all sizes and combinations. Find titles from the Canadian Children's Book Centre Family Literacy Day list at CNIB Library.
And after the kids go to bed, or after you send your grandchildren or nieces and nephews back to their parents, remember that CNIB Library has great reads for grownups too.