Professionals struggle to discuss low literacy

‘Low literacy? We don’t have people who are bothered by that.” This is a response that the Alliance for a Literate Drenthe regularly hears when they enter into discussions with companies. “That is of course not true,” says Willemijn Kleijn of the Alliance in the program De Staat van Drenthe.

The alliance is a network organization. “We want to make organizations aware that low literacy exists.” This may be because a company has to deal with people with low literacy, or because they may work on the shop floor. “Think of people standing on an assembly line. Do they understand the information and pictograms that hang there so that they know what to do? Because if they don’t understand that, it can lead to dangerous situations,” Kleijn explains.

Not only is it difficult for people who have difficulty with reading and writing to express this, it is also difficult for others to discuss this. Angelina Smeins of the Reading and Writing Foundation also sees this: “Professionals also find it difficult to discuss this subject. You don’t just say: ‘Do you understand what I’m saying?’ You just have to dare to do that.”

The Alliance celebrates its tenth anniversary this month and 110 allies are now members. Kleijn: “When you think of allies, you should think of municipalities, libraries and hospitals. Installation companies are also among our ambassadors.”

But also consider pharmacists who deal with patients who have low literacy. To let others experience what it is like to have low literacy, there are special Virtual Reality Glasses. This is used, among other things, in the training of pharmacists. Students can experience what it is like to enter a pharmacy as a low-literate person.

Watch part of the video they see below: