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Friday, Sep 13 2013 11:48 AM

'First Look': Can you read this? Kern Adult Literacy Council working to help those who can't

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    Jeff Nickell, executive director of the Kern Adult Literacy Council, talks about literacy programs on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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Texting has revolutionized communication around the world. But it has also shifted how people read and write.

"I had a student email me this block of text with no periods, everything was lowercase and it was amazing that they thought it was an appropriate email," Kern Adult Literacy Council Executive Director Jeff Nickell said Friday on "First Look with Scott Cox."

The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data on literacy rates put Kern County in last place, with 13.9 percent of adults here lacking basic skills needed for daily job functions.

And a whopping 28.1 percent of adults in Kern can't read English well enough to function, Nickell said.

"They can't read their medication prescription and they might be giving the wrong dosage of medication to their kids when they are sick," Nickell said.

Simulcast host Scott Cox remembered that when he was in school, a history teacher took off points in grading essays if there were any misspelled words.

The sad truth is that Kern is not known for literacy. But Nickell said the Literacy Council is working to address the issue.

"We have more volunteers doing one-on-one tutoring and these programs really show a significant change," Nickell said.

Two weeks ago, Nickell said, a person acknowledged to him finally knowing how to read and pronounce street signs.

"Knowing how to read, write and understand the language really changes the quality of your life," Nickell said.

The Literacy Council is hosting a Read for Success breakfast Oct. 11 at Hodel's Country Dining and invites the community to take part. A Festival of Books will be held Nov. 9, when local authors will speak and sign books.

To get involved in tutoring efforts or for more information on events, visit kernalc.org.


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