Documentary Released by San Diego Council on Literacy Reveals a Hidden Crisis Related to Adult Illiteracy

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Touching personal stories illustrate the challenges of people in San Diego County who kept their illiteracy a secret, and the successes they achieved from learning to read later in life. They are the people behind the “numbers.”

San Diego Council on Literacy

San Diego Council on Literacy releases compelling new documentary

Keeping with its mission to deepen the community’s understanding of adult illiteracy in the region, the San Diego Council on Literacy (SDCOL) today released Voices and Faces: Literacy in San Diego. This dramatic new documentary tells the story of 13 adults, whose inability to read kept them from meeting their personal and professional needs and achieving their life goals. These 13 people represent the hundreds of thousands of adults in San Diego County and the countless more in America who go through life facing unimaginable obstacles. Often times, they are too embarrassed to tell anyone and live with a painful secret when help is not far away.

The 12-minute film is largely the work of Mark Albertazzi, an award-winning film and documentary producer. The majority of the documentary is underwritten by Albertazzi, with additional contributions from Price Family Charitable Fund, United Way of San Diego County and the San Diego Foundation.

“Thanks to Mark and other contributors, people are getting a real and up close look at illiteracy, the emotional costs to those who are affected and the impact on families, communities, businesses - all of us,” said Jose L. Cruz, CEO of the SDCOL. “Our first screenings of this documentary are creating a stir and resulting in requests for copies of the film. Finally, people are feeling what we have been talking about since 1986.”

At a recent screening hosted by Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox, the audience learned that San Diego County is home to 440,000 adults who possess only minimal literacy skills; 33 percent of inmates in state and federal institutions are identified as having below basic literacy skills; children whose parents do not read or read well are at high-risk to fail in school; and, research shows that the key to youth success in school are parents who read to their children, having books in the home for children to read and verbal interaction between parents and their children.

Mayor Cox is currently promoting a program in Chula Vista called Chula Vista Reads to encourage early reading skills at home and in school, but Cox also recognizes the importance to emphasizing reading at all levels.

“I was impressed by the honest and emotional stories shared in Voices and Faces,” said Cox. “I want adults in our community to know that there is no shame in admitting you need help and there are trusted services that can assist with reading skills. And, if you are a parent, please read to your children, as it is the one skill that will help establish a strong foundation for their future learning.”

Voices and Faces: Literacy in San Diego can be seen in full by accessing the SDCOL You Tube Channel.

San Diego Council on Literacy
The San Diego Council on Literacy unites the community to support literacy through leadership, advocacy and resources. Its network of 27 affiliated programs provides people with the services they need to improve their quality of life through literacy. In 2012, 170,000+ residents of all ages received no-cost literacy services from these affiliated literacy program partners. Services are provided on a one-on-one, small group, computer-assisted, and classroom basis, and includes services for both English and non-English speakers. Services are also provided to those who want to earn their high school diploma or G.E.D.

The programs operate from libraries, adult basic education centers, community colleges, school districts, homeless centers, churches, refugee programs, low-income housing complexes, and juvenile detention facilities.

For more information, please visit or call Jose L. Cruz, Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Council on Literacy, at 619-574-1641 ext. 103.

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