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The Literacy Communicator
Volume 12, Number 1 Winter 1997

In this issue:
Whole New World
GED® on TV
OLN Project to Address
Health Literacy
Award Nomination Form
Directory Update
Annual Meeting
Annual Meeting Form
Membership Form

Since the publication of our last newsletter, we have received major contributions from
Chase Manhattan Mortgage
Ohio Newspaper Association
Lucy Kennedy

We thank these and all other donors who have made the Ohio Literacy Network a continuing reality.

Equipped for the Future: National Project Identifies "High Performance" Worker Characteristics and Competencies

The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) is engaged in a nationwide project to identify the problem solving, communication, social and other behaviors that characterize the effective worker of today and tomorrow. Such knowledge, the NIFL believes, is essential if adult learners are to become equipped to obtain and maintain employment. The project is also exploring what skills and characteristics adults need to exercise their rights as citizens and to function as parents in a modern society.

The project began its investigation three years ago when over 1500 adult learners were asked to provide their perspective on National Education Goal Six:

"By the Year 2000, every adult American will be literate and possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship."

Specifically, adults were asked to express what having the knowledge and skills to compete in the global economy means to them, what competing in a global economy means in their community, what exercising the rights and responsibilities of citizenship means to them, and what they would need to be able to do to exercise their rights of citizenship.

Four fundamental general purposes for learning emerged from the survey. Respondents said they wanted to be able to access information to orient themselves in their work; to have a voice that others would listen to; to act on their own without help from others; and to know what they need to learn to do to be successful for the future.

Following the analysis of input from surveyed adults, “role maps” were constructed containing broad areas of responsibilities and key activities. The role map for the worker contains four areas of responsibility: doing work; working with others; managing the work context; and planning and directing personal and professional growth.

Examples of activities within these areas are listed below:

  • Doing work includes organizing, planning, and prioritizing work; managing work processes and resources; using technology; taking responsibility for work quality and results; putting ideas and directions into action; meeting new work challenges.
  • Working with others includes communicating with others inside and outside the organization; assisting others; negotiating differences; directing and motivating others; teaching and developing others; and developing relationships.
  • Managing the work context involves activities such as using organizational goals, performance, structure, culture and values to inform actions and employing information on industry trends and competitive forces to guide activity.
  • Planning and directing personal and professional growth includes planning and renewing career goals; basing planning on labor market information; finding and getting a job; learning new skills; and balancing and supporting work, career, and personal goals.
  • Grants have been given to organizations and projects throughout the country, including the Ohio Literacy Resource Center, to develop content standards and performance measures within these areas.The OLRC will work with the states of Maine, North Carolina, Virginia, and Vermont to develop employee standards and performance indicators. Each state will focus on a different industry sector--Ohio will focus on heavy industry. Retail, health care, and metals manufacturing industries will be studied by other states.

    OLRC plans to hold six structured feedback sessions with workers in manufacturing companies across Ohio. The first three sessions will involve groups of 8-15 workers who have been identified as "high performance" workers. They will be asked to give feedback about the role of the worker in broad areas identified above. A second set of worker group sessions will be held to identify knowledge, skills, abilities and characteristics needed by workers to perform the activities identified earlier.

    The outcome of this stage of the project will be a customer driven framework that defines the scope and content of adult education. Once that framework is in place, work will begin on development of content and performance standards for the field of adult literacy.

    Chase Manhattan Mortgage Grant Funds Production of Informational Brochure

    The Ohio Literacy Network has received a $2,500 grant from Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corporation. Grant funds have been used to produce and disseminate a brochure targeted to personnel in social service agencies and related educational programs who may come in contact with adults needing the services of basic and literacy education programs. While in many communities working relationships have developed between social service agencies and adult basic and literacy programs, in others the front-line employee knows little about adult basic and literacy programs and the services they provide. This brochure represents one step in an effort to try to create more awareness of these existing programs among related agency and program personnel. Thus far, the brochure has been distributed to Title I personnel and to women's shelters. The Ohio Literacy Network thanks the Chase Manhattan Mortgage Company for making it possible to produce and distribute this brochure.

    “Its a Whole New World” Theme of NIFL Public Awareness Campaign

    The National Institute for Literacy has launched a national campaign aimed at drawing attention to adult literacy issues. According to NIFL, the campaign will attempt to "redefine" literacy for the general public, policy makers, and business leaders. Three sub-themes will govern the campaign:

  • becoming literate is like living in a whole new world;
  • we live in a whole new world where the jobs and tasks of modern life require a comprehensive literacy including much more than reading and writing; and
  • a literate world would be a whole new world, with lower crime rates, higher employment rates, and fewer people on welfare.
  • What does the NIFL hope will result from the campaign? It believes that the general public will become "better versed on literacy issues so that it can become the driving force behind the expansion of all literacy efforts." NIFL hopes that the business community as a result of the campaign "will be moved to reallocate dollars to on-site literacy training programs," and "become allies in efforts to lobby policy makers on literacy research and program issues." Further, it is hoped that the campaign will "inspire policy makers to develop policies to support programs and research that improve literacy."

    A series of television and radio public service announcements and other promotional items will be produced around each of the three sub themes. A limited number of media kits also will be produced which will include items such as camera-ready ads, copies of the PSAs; and so on. Information kits will also be available including items such as

  • information about the NIFL;
  • fact sheets on topics such as family literacy, literacy and corrections, literacy and welfare;
  • case studies on successful partnerships; and
  • a feedback form.
  • The first public service announcement is scheduled for release in March. It will be targeted to the general public and include a traditional approach of adults telling "why literacy is important in their lives." The message will invite individuals interested in finding out more about literacy to call the national literacy hotline in Lincoln, Nebraska, which the National Institute for Literacy now operates. Individuals who call the number will receive the information kit mentioned above. Although the campaign is not intended as a recruitment campaign, personnel at the national hotline will refer callers interested in enrolling or volunteering in a basic or literacy education program to state or local programs.

    The second set of announcements scheduled for a June release will target elected officials. The third and final set of announcements will be released in September in conjunction with International Literacy Day and will be aimed at the business community.

    According to Carolyn Staley, Deputy Director of the National Institute for Literacy, print materials will be produced that will allow local programs to insert their name and number. The Ohio ABLE program will arrange for programs that desire these items to receive them.

    Bookmarks and Posters to be Distributed

    Barnes and Noble, B. Dalton, and Walden books store throughout the state are distributing to customers bookmarks produced by the OLN as a part of the literacy awareness cartoon campaign: Illiteracy. It's not a Laughing Matter. Honda of America is the primary sponsor of this year's project. Additional major contributions to the project have been made by the Ohio Newspaper Association Foundation and the Ohio Electric Utility Institute.

    The bookmarks contain the work of syndicated cartoonists--Peter Guren, Chuck Ayers, Tom Batiuk, Mike Peters, and Chip Sansom. The bookmarks are aimed at potential volunteers and carry the "We're all in this together," message on the front. Some key facts about literacy are contained on the back.

    Posters with the same theme also are being produced and will be made available to libraries, businesses and retail establishments. For more information about this project contact the OLN.

    Health Literacy To Be Addressed by OLN Project

    Undereducation has long been know to have an economic impact on individuals and society. But it also has a major negative influence on health and health care costs. The National Adult Literacy Survey conducted in 1993 by Educational Testing Service revealed that three-fourths of adult Americans with chronic physical or mental health problems scored in the lowest two literacy levels assessed.

    Results of a recent Emory University/UCLA study reported in the December, 1995, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, underscore the extent to which many patients are handicapped in their ability to understand medical directions because of their low literacy levels. The study results indicate that 41.6% of patients could not comprehend directions for taking medication on an empty stomach; 26% were unable to understand information regarding when their next appointment was scheduled; and 50.5% could not understand a standard informed consent form. These problems were particularly apparent among older patients.

    Other studies have also confirmed that pertinent health- related information is not written at a level that is accessible to adults with low literacy skills. For example, a study reported in the March 1994 issue of Pediatrics magazine indicates that the average reading level of parents of young children is the seventh or eight grade, but 80% of pediatric materials intended for use by parents are written at the tenth grade level or above.

    While low literacy function is detrimental to the health of individuals, it also has an economic cost. As indicated in Patient Care, October 15, 1996, patients with a third grade reading level or less have an average health care cost approximately six times higher than those individuals with better skills.

    Clearly, a need exists to create awareness among primary care physicians of the extent of the communication problem that exists between medical professionals and their patients who lack literacy proficiency. The Ohio Literacy Network is undertaking a project to do just that. Information about this issue will be produced and disseminated to primary physicians.

    Outside funding is currently being sought to underwrite costs for the project. As planned an information packet will be produced containing items such as guidelines for communicating with individuals with limited literacy skills, a listing of easy-to-read health resources, and information about adult literacy programs available in communities throughout Ohio.

    GED® on TV: A Progress Report

    Information packets have been sent to over 600 adult learners who have inquired about the GED® on TV series being offered as a part of two pilot projects in the Dayton area and in southeastern Ohio. Stations WPTO\WPTD in Dayton have been broadcasting the series since October in its 16 county viewing area in the southwestern part of the state. WOUB/WOUC TV in Athens began airing the series in mid January.

    In both Dayton and Athens, extensive use has been made of televised ads promoting the series. The major targets for GED® on TV instruction are adults who have difficulty attending GED® classes due to childcare responsibilities, lack of transportation, or work schedule conflicts.

    Television ads were purchased in late December and early January during daytime programming (talk shows and soap operas) in both media markets to reach these targets.The television campaigns have been supplemented with print recruitment material distribution. In Dayton, for example, flyers have been sent home with school children. Pertinent agencies also have been made aware of the projects. Inquiries have been received from JOBS programs, churches, employers, juvenile courts, and others.

    As of this writing, 363 inquiries have been received from viewers in the WPTO\WPTD viewing area, and 274 calls from residents within WOUB\WOUC's viewing area. Seventy-five percent of calls from southwestern Ohio and 68% of calls from southeastern Ohio are from women.

    Overall, 41% of callers report that they are currently or have previously been enrolled in or attended a GED® or ABLE class. Twenty percent of callers report having taken either the GED® practice test or the GED® test previously.

    The GED® on TV projects represent collaborative efforts involving the above mentioned television stations, OLN, Project READ in Dayton, the Central/Southeast Regional Resource Center in Athens, and local literacy providers. The projects have been made possible through grants from the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio University. VISTA volunteers at the OLN and Project READ in Dayton have contributed the major portion of staff time to the project.

    The GED® on TV series will continue through November on WOUB\WOUC in Athens and through July on WPTO\WPTD in Dayton.


    Literacy Listservs

    Listservs are subscriber-only e-mail groups that focus on specific topics. Once you subscribe, you will receive and be able to respond to the groups' e-mail messages. Many listservs have moderators who help facilitate the ongoing discussion. There are several literacy-related listservs. They offer an easy way to access information on educational policy, funding, programs, teachers, etc., all over the country. Here are a few to explore:

    NIFL-ESL (National Institute for Literacy)
    Focus: Adult ESL Literacy
    To subscribe: e-mail:
    Type e-mail message: subscribe nifl-esl yourfirstname yourlastname
    (leave subject line blank)

    Focus: Family Literacy
    To subscribe: e-mail:
    Type e-mail message: subscribe nifl-family yourfirstname yourlastname
    (leave subject line blank)

    NLA: National Literacy Advocacy
    Focus: Advocacy, Policy, Legislation
    To subscribe: e-mail:
    Type e-mail message: subscribe nla
    (leave subject line blank)

    Focus: Workplace Literacy
    To subscribe: e-mail:
    Type e-mail message: subscribe nifl-workplace yourfirstname yourlastname

    Choosing and Using Books with Adult New Readers
    by Marguerite Crowley Weibel

    Marguerite Crowley Weibel's new book, Choosing and Using Books with Adult New Readers, is intended to help librarians connect new readers with appropriate books and literacy teachers with the range of materials available to new readers. Chapters discuss art and photography books, poetry, works of nonfiction, essays, and other types of “real” writings. The book also contains an annotated bibliography of approximately 100 titles including suggested range of reading ability.

    The book is published by Neal Schuman Publishers. Information about it may be obtained by calling 1-800-584-2414 or (212) 925-8650 or fax toll free 1-800-584-2414.

    Citizenship Books Available

    The OLN has a few extra copies of We the People:Guidelines to Taking Part in Democracy, the citizenship education booklet produced last year with a grant from the George Gund Foundation. Contact the OLN at 614/486-7757 if you wish to receive copies.

    1997 OLN Annual Adult Literacy Service Award Nomination Form

    The Ohio Literacy Network annually recognizes individuals for their contributions to adult literacy in the state of Ohio through awarding its Literacy Service Award. Traditionally the award has been presented at the OLN Annual Fall Meeting to be held this year on September 12, 1997, in Columbus. Nominations are sought for volunteers and for paid staff members working in a literacy program or in another capacity related to adult literacy. Candidates nominated for this award will be reviewed by the OLN Awards & Recognition Committee.

    For each nominee, attach a 500 word or less explanation of why you are nominating the individual. Indicate the impact his/her activities have had. Submit this form and narratives to: The Ohio Literacy Network, 1500 West Lane Avenue, Columbus, OH 43221, or fax 614-486-1527, by July 15, 1997. If you have any questions, call 614-486-7757.

    Volunteer Nominee
    Name ______________________________
    Address ______________________________
    Telephone ______________________________

    Paid Staff Nominee
    Name ______________________________
    Address ______________________________
    Telephone ______________________________

    Nominator Information
    Name ______________________________
    Agency ______________________________
    Address ______________________________
    Telephone ______________________________

    New VISTAs

    Join OLN
    Lori Breehne will be working with the Clermont\Brown County Literacy Council in Batavia. She recently earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cincinnati, majoring in geography with a minor in International Affairs and Historic Preservation. Lori has recruited workers for Habitat for Humanity, put together mailings for the Cincinnati Art Museum, and volunteered at the Society of Underwater Archeology and Miami Purchase Society in Cincinnati. Her experiences helping housemates from Spain, Greece and Chile to learn English and her love of reading, led Lori to consider work in an adult literacy program. She is excited to be working to improve others' lives.

    Heather Smith also will serve at the Clermont/Brown County Literacy Council, using her writing skills to help her home community. Originally from Georgetown, OH, she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from New York University, graduating cum laude. She looks forward to having such a challenging job before continuing on to graduate school.

    Where Do All the VISTA's Go?

    Have you ever wondered what happens to VISTAS after they complete their service? Here are a few examples of VISTAs that have gone on to bigger and better things: Peter Waite serves as the Director of Laubach Literacy International; Michael Hooker is President of University of Massachusetts; Irvin Lippman is the Director of the Columbus Museum of Art; Tom Glynn is the Deputy Director of the Department of Labor; Harold Berman is serving in Congress; and, let us not forget Ray Magliozzi of National Public Radio's popular Car Talk program.

    Do You Know Where Your Update Form Is?

    OLN is completing the process of updating the Directory of Ohio Adult Literacy Programs. Update forms were mailed to all programs currently in the Directory. These forms were to be completed and returned in March. Thanks to all of you who promptly responded. If you have additional changes to be included in the directory please call Heidi immediately at 614-486-7757.

    Libraries, literacy programs and agencies such as the Department of Human Services, the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services, and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction utilize this directory for referrals. Therefore, it is important that we maintain accurate, current records of adult basic literacy programs available in the state.

    Please help us provide an accurate and current resource for everyone.


    The 1997 Ohio Literacy Network Annual meeting will serve as a forum for discussion of Equipped for the Future and the impact the project will have on reshaping adult basic and literacy education programs. The Ohio Literacy Resource Center, one of the project participants, will work with the OLN to educate adult basic and literacy education professionals about the project, its to-date findings, and the future programmatic and funding implications of the project.

    Andy Hartman, director of the National Institute for Literacy and other National Institute for Literacy officials have been invited to provide a national perspective of the project and to discuss future programmatic implications.

    The OLN Annual Meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn East in Columbus Ohio on Friday, September 12, 1997.

    More details about the meeting will appear in the next issue of the Literacy Communicator and OLN MemberNews.

    Registration Form OHIO LITERACY NETWORK 1997 ANNUAL MEETING September 12, 1997
    Holiday Inn East
    Columbus, Ohio

    Name _________________________
    Telephone _________________________
    Agency _________________________
    Address _________________________
    City _________________________
    State _________________________
    Zip _________________________

    $35 for OLN Members
    $40 for non-members
    $45 for registration after 9/5/97.
    $15 for adult learners

    Please make checks payable to the Ohio Literacy Network. Send your check and registration form to the
    1500 West Lane Avenue,
    Columbus, OH 43221.

    Questions? Call 614/486-7757.

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