Bridgerland Literacy Meets Clients Where They Are

By JoLynne Lyon | May 10, 2023
"It's never too late to learn how to read." --Karen Albiston, volunteer and former coordinator.

The first time clients seek help with reading, it’s hard. Often they feel shame and embarrassment that they struggle to read.

Bridgerland Literacy, located in the Institute for Disability Research, Policy and Practice, is meeting people where they are—not only in reading ability but also in their own communities.

“When I first came on to Bridgerland Literacy, everyone came to us,” said Alice Shepherd, the program’s coordinator. “I’ve always thought that we should be out in every community, and so we’re working really hard to have tutors in every community.” These volunteers can meet clients in local libraries to work on their reading and writing skills.

Karen Albiston is a volunteer tutor and former program coordinator. She witnessed the difference literacy can make, both in careers and at the personal level. One of her clients was a 72-year-old man who was trying to reconnect with his three daughters. Because of his increased skills, he was able to write each of them a letter. “Each one of them has contacted him now,” Albiston said.

For Raquel Marcyes, the challenge was learning to read and write in another language. “It wasn’t easy for me,” she said. “I was embarrassed, but my instructor was so good, and she taught me to be better.”

Shepherd and Albiston share a passion for spreading literacy. Low literacy skills cost families, communities and taxpayers time, money and heartache. People may have more medical problems and expenses because they could not read the instructions for follow-up care. Workers may miss out on higher-paying jobs because they are unable to take the written test that helps them land a better position or advance in their current employment.

The good news is that literacy—including adult literacy—can improve. “When you don’t know what the problem is, you don’t know how to fix it,” Shepherd said. “If we can diagnose what the problem is, we can fix it.”

“It’s never too late to learn how to read,” said Albiston.

To connect with Bridgerland Literacy services near you, or to find out how to volunteer, contact Alice Shepherd.

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