A Publication of Florida’s Adult and Family
Literacy Resource Center

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Governor Bush Issues Proclamation:

September is Florida Adult and Family Literacy Month

Governor Bush recently issued a proclamation recognizing September as Florida Adult and Family Literacy Month. 

In the proclamation, Bush points out that more than twenty percent of Florida’s adults experience literacy issues that severely impact their lives and families, their ability to work productively and their full participation as citizens and residents of our state.

He encourages Floridians to learn more about the importance of literacy and promote literacy in their communities; the Governor also extends greetings and best wishes to all observing this special occasion.

September 8th is International Literacy Day

The United Nations recognizes September 8th as International Literacy Day.  Begun in 1987, nations all across the world come together to celebrate and promote literacy.  The U.N. estimates that around one fifth of the world population is illiterate.  In the U.S. alone, 30 million adults have below basic literacy skills.  International Literacy Day reminds us all to not only celebrate the strides we’ve made in the struggle against illiteracy, but how far we have left to go before we win.

The Florida Literacy Coalition thanks all the hard working literacy programs that are celebrating and raising awareness for literacy on September 8th and throughout the entire month.  Please support and attend your local events so International Literacy Day and Adult and Family Literacy month will be a success.

Literacy Supplement Available to Newspapers

The Newspaper Association of America Foundation, in conjunction with the National Center for Family Literacy, is offering its 18th annual Literacy Tabloid entitled “Newspaper Inspiration: New Generation.”  It’s a 16 page section that is adaptable to mix or match, or to add local copy.  The “LitTab” is free and comes in Quark, InDesign or PDF via CD.

We encourage you to contact your local newspapers to run this tabloid, and ask them to add local events and copy.  As September is Adult and Family Literacy month, and November is Family Literacy month, newspapers can run the supplement during the months of September or November.

September Literacy Events in Florida:

Brevard County Libraries Literacy Program:  Bee, Literacy and Tea

September 6— Spelling Bee: Brevard County Libraries Literacy Program will host a spelling bee sponsored by the Space Coast Chapter of Florida Public Relations Association.

September 7—Outreach: The BCLL will hold an outreach by volunteers and students at all seventeen libraries in Brevard.

September 8—Celebration Tea: The program will host a celebration tea for students and tutors to celebrate their twentieth anniversary as a library literacy program

Jan Moran Collier City Learning Library: Job Fair and Inspirational Speaker: Veronica Daniels

September 11--Job and Career Fair:  Businesses from the local community will come to the Jan Moran Collier City Learning Library and set up booths at the library so that they can interview and place people in available jobs.  On that same day, the Youth Services department is hosting a Career Day.  They invited guests from various careers to come out and speak about their jobs: how they got the job and the educational background they needed.  The JMCC learning library hopes that this will stress the need for good literacy skills to youth. 

September 20--“Let the Truth Be Told”:  Veronica Daniels, an inspirational speaker from the local community, will present her life story to motivate, and inspire others towards success.  She will speak about how she was a runaway teenager at the age of 14 and her life on the streets.  Eventually, Ms. Daniels overcame these obstacles by first obtaining her GED, then her BA degree, and later a Masters degree.  She is currently a teacher.  The JMCC learning library hopes her speech will motivate other learners who are still struggling to obtain literacy skills. 

Marion County Literacy Council: 2006 Literacy Champion Awards Luncheon

September 8--Mayor Randy Ewers will issue a proclamation for Marion County announcing Literacy Awareness throughout the county at this event. 

Four local organizations will be recognized for their contributions to the establishment and growth of the Marion County Literacy Council.  The 2006 recipients are as follows: Star Banner:  accepting Allen Parsons; CFCC:  accepting President Charles Dassance; Fox-51 TV: accepting Station Manager Sandy Wagner; Silver Springs Rotary Club: accepting President John Hunt, Bill Gilchrist

A special surprise award, the Frederick Douglass Literacy Award will also be presented at the luncheon.  Two MCLC students, a Reader and an English Student of Other Languages will speak about the impact MCLC tutors have made in their lives.

Literacy Volunteers of Washington County, County Oaks Learning Library: 20th Annual Celebration, Int’l Literacy Day

September 8—The County Oaks Learning Library branch of the LVWC is proud to hold their 20th Annual Anniversary Celebration on International Literacy Day.

Palm Beach Literacy Coalition:  Hats Off to Reading!

September 8—Board Meeting, 8:00 am: The Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition will have its monthly board meeting at the Adult Education Center where 600 adults study daily.  This change in location is in honor of International Literacy Day.

Lawyers for Literacy, 9:00 am:  The Literacy Coalition board and Lawyers for Literacy will have refreshments together.  Then board members will be divided into groups to go with attorneys to adult education classrooms where the attorneys will talk with the adult classes about the important of reading in their careers.

Luncheon, 12:00 pm: The Literacy Coalition is hosting a luncheon around the theme, "Hats Off to Literacy."  The Coalition invited its partners and funders.  Four local mayors will speak about what their city is doing to promote literacy and education.

Project L.E.A.D. (Literacy for Every Adult in Dade): UN Int’l Literacy Day Seminars

September 8 and 9--Project L.E.A.D., from the Miami-Dade Public Library System, will host two seminars in honor of International Literacy Day.  The two seminars, Dyslexic Writer and Universal Access and Assistive Technologies, will be conducted by Dr. Christopher Lee.  Dr. Lee is a renowned advocate, author, speaker and leader in the field of learning disabilities and adaptive technologies.

“The Dyslexic Writer” will discuss how a dyslexic writer can cope with the education system through mentoring and strategies and accommodations.  “Universal Access and Assistive Technologies” will discuss technologies that a learning disabled student can use.  

Southwest Regional Library:  International Literacy Month Dinner

September 12-- The Southwest Regional Library will host an international themed covered dish dinner.  SRL asks the participants to bring a native food from their country.

Professor Sydney Albrecht of the Continuing Education Department from Broward Community College is the guest speaker; the library will also feature musical entertainment by Bill Fritz and a literacy PowerPoint.

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Roundup:  New Technologies for Learning Disabilities

The information superhighway is making life easier for those with learning disabilities.  Listed below are a few new features the Internet is available for the learning disabled community. 

Dragon NaturallySpeaking, 9.0 -- Voice recognition software, historically fraught with errors (and associated with headaches,) has just made the leap from the user- unfriendly to user-friendly.  Nuance has just upgraded its voice recognition software to the most accurate in the field to date.  The user doesn’t need to train the software – where the user reads a canned piece of prose to begin the speech-recognition.  It does, however, become more accurate the more it’s used.  Nuance states that ‘NatSpeak’ is up to 99% accurate. 

For the bi-lingual crowd, it’s also available in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, British English and other dialects of English.

Other features of NatSpeak include: ability to surf the web by voice, compatibility with Windows and Macintosh and ability to dictate up to three times faster than standard keyboard typing.

Google Accessible-- Google is piloting a stripped down version of its famous search engine for the blind and visually impaired.  It will prioritize search results that are the most effective for visually impaired users.  Google takes several factors into account when judging a site’s accessibility, these include:  simplicity, amount of visual imagery and if its primary purpose is immediately viable with keyboard navigation.   

To make websites more accessible, Google recommends:

        To keep Web pages easy to read;

        To avoid visual clutter;

       To ensure the primary purpose of the Web page is immediately accessible with full keyboard navigation.

HireDS.Monster-- Hire Disability Solutions and Monster teamed up to create an accessible career resource site for workers with disabilities.  The site helps employers looking to diversify their employee population and workers with disabilities easily search the job market.  As well, it provides information on legislation on disabilities, tips for job seekers, and a list of ways employers can make their office space more accessible.

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Adult Reading Components Study (ARCS) Video Available

The National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) and the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) recently announced the "Adult Reading Components Study (ARCS) Panel," a 30-minute streaming video on NCSALL's ARCS research produced by the Institute. 

ARCS was the first large-scale attempt to use a battery of individually administered reading and language tests to describe the reading of students enrolled in adult basic education (ABE) and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) programs. The program assessed nearly 1,000 adult learners from 30 learning centers in seven states in order to develop instructionally relevant cluster profiles of adult readers.

The video offers a panel discussion about NCSALL's ARCS research and ways in which programs can use the Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles, an on-line assessment tool based on the ARCS research, to assess students and plan instruction tailored to their specific profiles.

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Celebrate Health Literacy Month in October

Each October, health literacy activists around the world celebrate Health Literacy Month to emphasize the importance of easy to understand health information. This event started in 1999 as a way for health literacy advocates to join together and bring awareness to the world about why health literacy matters.

According to the Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS), health literacy is the ability to understand, access and use the health related tools and services available in a given location.

Although one in five American adults reads at the 5th grade level or below, and the average American reads at the 8th to 9th grade level; most health care materials are at 10th grade reading level.  Simple tasks such as distinguishing between tubes of toothpaste or hemorrhoid cream can require a certain level of health literacy skills. 

According to the American Medical Association, “people from all ages, races, and income and education levels are challenged by this problem. Individuals with low health literacy incur medical expenses that are up to four times greater than patients with adequate literacy skills.  Compounding the problem is the fact that most patients hide their confusion from their doctors because they are too ashamed and intimidated to ask for help.”

Web Resources

During the upcoming Health Literacy Month, many literacy advocates and organizations will hold special events or provide resources to bring awareness to this issue:

       On the LINCS health and literacy special collection website, you can find resources including health lessons and activities, easy-to-read health information, multilingual health information and health literacy research. 

       The Health Literacy Month’s website has a catalogue of promotional items and ideas for health literacy-related activities and events. 

      You can also visit the American Medical Association’s website for a health literacy toolkit which includes a documentary and instructional video, an in-depth manual for clinicians, possible continuing medical education credit for physicians and additional resources for education and involvement.

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Florida Lags Behind Other States in Most Areas of Volunteering

The Center for National and Community Service (CNCS) released a new report, “Volunteering in America: State Trends and Rankings: 2002-2005.”  The study provides information on volunteering on both a nation and state wide level. 

The CNCS split the report into six state specific categories: overall volunteering rate, volunteer intensity, senior volunteering rates (those aged 65 years or older), baby boomer volunteering rate (those born between 1946 and 1964), young adult volunteering rate (16 to 24 year olds) and college student volunteering rates.

Florida was among the top 9 in volunteering intensity; Florida volunteers’ donated an annual median of 54 hours over the 2003 to 2005 period.

In contrast, Florida’s statistics ranked in the bottom 20% in 4 of the 6 categories: overall, baby boomers, young adults and college students.

Despite 12% of the nation’s seniors claiming Florida as home, senior volunteering rates for Florida were in the bottom 13.

Florida Rankings out of 50 States and the District of Columbia                               


Rankings (out of 51)

Volunteer Rate

Volunteer Intensity


54 hours (annual average per volunteer)

Senior Volunteering



Young Adult Volunteering



College Student Volunteering



Baby Boomer Volunteering



Overall Volunteering



Nationwide, the types of activities volunteers most performed (over one-third) were: coaching, refereeing, tutoring, teaching and/or mentoring.  Fundraising or selling items to raise money was the second most popular volunteer activity, performed by nearly 30% of volunteers.  The third most common activity performed was collecting, preparing, distributing or serving food (26.3%).  

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House and Senate Committees Recommend Level Funding for State Adult Education

Even Start Zeroed Out in Senate Bill

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees bills recommend level funding, at $563.9 million, for adult education and literacy state grants. There is, however, a significant difference in funding for Even Start. The House bill funds Even Start at $70 million (down from $99 million in FY 06) and the Senate bill zeroes out all funding for the program.

Both committees continue to support English Literacy and Civics state grants and national leadership activities, including the National Institute for Literacy.

Visit ProLiteracy America for more information about pending legislation, advocacy efforts and policy developments.

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Liza McFadden Nominated to Serve on National Institute for Literacy Advisory Board

President Bush has nominated Florida’s own Liza McFadden to serve on the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Literacy, a board which provides independent advice on the operation of the Institute. 

McFadden currently serves as president of the Volunteer Florida Foundation: a foundation aimed at strengthening Florida families through volunteerism and community service.  In the past two years the Foundation has granted over $20 million to local community and faith-based groups to assist Floridians rebuild their homes and their lives in the wake of hurricanes Charley, Jeanne, Francis and Ivan, and another $5 million in literacy, mentoring and volunteer programs.

An advocate for literacy, McFadden has served as the executive director for the Governor’s Family Literacy Initiative since its inception in 1999.  Since that time, ninety-two family literacy programs have begun via initial private funds from this program. The annual Celebration of Reading featuring the Bush family and national authors raise over $1 million annually to start or expand family literacy programs.

"Reading and literacy are at the heart of learning” said McFadden. “As an advocate for adult and family literacy, I am pleased to serve in a national policy role.  I hope my fellow literacy colleagues in Florida will email me their thoughts and ideas at liza.mcfadden@vfffund.org."

Prior to serving as the president of Volunteer Florida Foundation, McFadden served in the Executive Office of the Governor and oversaw several key policy initiatives for Governor Jeb Bush. 

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Outstanding Adult Learners Sought to Feature in New Publication

Do you know past or present students who have made truly extraordinary progress?  If so, they may be great candidates for a special project of the Florida Literacy Coalition to profile and learn from successful adult learners.

Through a series of in-depth interviews, FLC will explore factors that may have contributed to the exceptional level of success realized by a select number of adult learners.  Given the focused nature of this project, we will be able to explore a broader range of potential influence factors than have traditionally been included in larger studies.  Such factors may include family influence, personal value systems and school experiences. We believe that much can be learned from these individuals that will inform practitioners and inspire other adult learners to succeed. 

We are ideally looking for individuals who have; 1) distinguished themselves by developing functional literacy skills, 2) obtained their GED/high school diploma and/or other degree, and, 3) made an effort to contribute back to their programs or communities.

This project, funded by the Dollar General Foundation, will result in a publication that profiles these students, their stories and the factors that have contributed to their success.

If you know of just such a person, e-mail Greg Smith at smithg@floridaliteracy.org.  Please include your name, telephone number, program, name of the adult learner and a brief description of his /her accomplishments.

Each participating adult leaner will receive a modest honorarium.

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VISTA Hail and Farewell

The life of an AmeriCorps*VISTA member is one of transition.  Once again, VISTA members of yore are leaving the Florida Literacy non-profits, and newbie VISTAs are stepping up in their place.

The Florida Literacy Coalition has said goodbye to Erin Balleine, who did a wonderful job and contributed to FLC in many different ways including coordinating the literacy ambassador program, adult learner day at the Florida Literacy Conference and FLC’s student essay book.  Erin is moving on to Boston College to pursue her master’s degree in sociology.  Many thanks Erin.  We wish you all the best.

FLC welcomes two new VISTA members Shakara Milton and Alyssa Baer.  Shakara recently attended University of Central Florida and prior to joining FLC worked as the Office Manager at the Rose Training Institute in Orlando.  Alyssa, a recent graduate of Saint Anselm College, relocated to Orlando from Maryland.

Other AmeriCorps *VISTA members who have joined our state project in recent months include:

Sonia Michel, a former reading teacher, is serving with Learn to Read of Jacksonville.

Kristina Vitali, a UCF graduate, who recently completed another national service position with City Year in South Carolina.  Kristina is working for the Adult Literacy League in Orlando. 

Welcome one and all.

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This publication is made possible through the Support of the Florida Department of Education,
Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Education

Florida Literacy Coalition, Inc. Florida's Adult and Family Literacy Resource Center
934 N. Magnolia Ave.  Suite 104 Orlando, FL 32803 • (407) 246-7110 • Hotline: 1-800-237-5113