|February, 2001||Volume 3, No. 2|
Communications and Literacy:
The literacy community may long have been aware of the communication gap between less literate Canadians and their governments but the challenge has now also been taken up by the federal government. The Canada Information Office (CIO) was established in 1996 to examine the effectiveness of government communications. In 1999 the CIO, informed by findings from the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), began a detailed study of the communication challenges facing less literate Canadians.
The study, entitled Issues and Challenges in Communicating with Less Literate Canadians, involved 4003 surveys, 8 discussion groups and 46 individual interviews with adults who had less than grade nine education. The findings were released in September 2000. Please refer to Table 1 on page 3.
Through this study, the CIO recognized that governments have not fully succeeded in transmitting easy-to-understand information to meet the needs of all Canadians. In November 2000 the CIO arranged a National Forum, bringing together more than 230 participants including government communicators, policy and program officers, as well as literacy representatives. Many were struck by the realities of the nearly 50% of Canadians who experience various levels of difficulty in understanding the communications from the Government of Canada.
Available in print or CD-ROM (call 613-992-8545). Also on the CIO web site at www.cio-bic.gc.ca.
Although the issue does not surprise most literacy workers, we can always be mindful of the style and approach in our own communications. As a profession, literacy workers will be increasingly called upon to test and model good communications practices. We will also be sought as advisors for businesses and governments who are less familiar with the needs of this important group in society. The following findings from CIOs study are noteworthy tips for all communicators. Please refer to Table 2 on page 3.