The Facts on Literacy
The National Literacy Act of 1991 defines literacy as
"an individual's ability to
in English and compute and solve problems at levels of
proficiency necessary to function on the job and in
society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's
knowledge and potential."
Research indicates that 17-20% of our nation's children
experience substantial difficulties in learning to read,
and that more than a third of students in fourth grade (and
nearly 70% in some low-income urban schools) read below the
basic level. Children who are not fluent readers by fourth
grade are likely to continue struggling with reading into
of reading problems essential to a child's success in both
school and society.
ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists possess the
knowledge and training to support the development of spoken
language as a foundation for learning to read and write.
For more information and free brochures on literacy and
children or a referral to an ASHA-certified speech-language
pathologist, consumers may call 800-638-8255
(Spanish-speaking operators are available) or go to
Did You Know?
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have specialized
knowledge and experience needed to identify communication
problems and to provide the help that children need to
build critical language and literacy skills. SLPs are often
the first professionals to identify the root cause of
reading and writing problems through the child's difficulty
with language. With their help, children can build the
skills they need to succeed in school and in life.
- 1 out of every 5 of our nation's school-age children
suffer from reading failures.
- A majority of all poor readers have an early history
of spoken-language deficits.
- A child who is not a fluent reader by 4
grade is likely to struggle with reading in
- Poor reading and writing skills have a devastating
lifelong impact - 75% of school dropouts report reading
problems, and at least half of adolescents and young
adults with criminal records have reading
For more information or a referral to an
ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist, consumers
may call 800-638-8255 (Spanish-speaking operators are
ASHA's Literacy Gateway
In November 2003, ASHA launched the Literacy Gateway
on ASHA's Web site. The gateway features an efficient and
user-friendly way to access information regarding
literacy, including articles from the
related to literacy, ASHA journal articles, products from
ASHA's product catalog, links to related Web sites, and
For information, go to the
Members of the media may contact
ASHA's media relations
for more information or help with stories.
B-roll on milestones in speech, language, and hearing
development as well as communication disorders and aging,
are available for broadcast stories.
Consumers may contact ASHA's Action Center for more
information at 800-638-8255. Spanish-speaking operators
are the professionals concerned with evaluation,
treatment, prevention, and research in human
communication and its development and disorders. They
evaluate, diagnose, and treat speech and language
disorders and work with individuals of all ages, from
infants to the elderly. Their work encompasses speech
problems, such as those related to fluency, articulation,
and voice disorders, as well as issues regarding
language, learning and literacy.
affect approximately 46 million Americans. Of these, 28
million have a hearing loss, 14 million have a speech or
language disorder, and 4 million have a related
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
is the national professional, scientific and
credentialing association for more than 127,000
audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech,
language, and hearing scientists.