in Paris, an association supports adults who have difficulty reading and writing

While one in ten adults encounter significant difficulties with writing, associations support volunteers to regain a sufficient level to make their daily lives easier.



Reading time: 2 min

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This is a phenomenon that is often underestimated: one in ten adults encounter significant difficulties with writing in France. This is the result of the latest major INSEE survey, published Monday evening. Good news, the figure is decreasing: it was 16% 10 years ago. Unsurprisingly, those who have difficulty reading and writing are over-represented among disadvantaged groups. In life, it is a daily handicap. In Paris, an association tries to bring 150 people up to speed each year.

Imagine yourself in a foreign country where nothing is written in your language. This is the daily life of Sahar, 29 years old: “Anything that is very small, like in this book, I have trouble seeing and reading exactly what it is. Sometimes I get the letters wrong…” Sahar, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has difficulty moving, seeing, but also reading and writing: “I make a lot of spelling mistakes. It’s complicated to fill out a document alone or to write a pretty letter.” she regrets.

“Always need a third person”

He therefore needs a good dose of courage to face the administrative procedures: “You always need a third person to fill out a document. You don’t have much privacy because there are a lot of professionals who know your life, in terms of taxes, in terms of many things. .. It’s a total obstacle for the professional world. They all say ‘You make a lot of spelling mistakes, you have trouble reading.’ So it’s blocking.”

So, to regain mastery of basic knowledge, Sahar entered the door of the association Knowledge for success. For 15 years she has been organizing reading workshops in very small groups led by volunteers. Vanessa has four adults read the same passage. She believes that the key is to give them confidence in themselves: “By not mastering reading and sometimes even a little writing, it gives them a feeling of inferiority. They compare themselves to others and often they have the impression that they know nothing when they arrive here and that everyone knows everything. It automatically blocks them.”

It is also up to society to change its outlook on illiteracy, believes Perrine Terrier, the director of the association: “One time I was on the train and there was a passenger who said to his mother, ‘Oh look, my carpenter is very, very good but look at the text message he sent me, it’s full of mistakes, I’m not going to make him work anymore.’ It was complete nonsense.” She calls for lifting the taboo of illiteracy and better supporting those who suffer from it.

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