Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2.8% or 40%: how many people need large print?

A quote from the Arts Council's Get a Plan accessibility website:
"Did you know…40% of the population cannot easily read print if the type size is below 12 pt?"

That would mean 40% of the population couldn't read a newspaper, let alone the instructions on a packet of pills, or the small print on their car insurance.

Or the tests they use to measure literacy... wait a minute - could this explain the apparently low levels of literacy in the UK?

Well, only if the figure was true. The website owner is trying to trace the origin for me, but in the meantime here is a quote from an RNIB report:
 'The prevalence in those aged 16+ of at least S9 (difficulty reading ordinary newsprint) was 2.8%'  1998/99 Survey of the Needs and Lifestyles of Visually Impaired Adults. (RNIB/ONS 2000) quoted in Tate et al, The prevalence of visual impairment in the UK (RNIB 2005).

Newsprint is usually about 9pt. All figures for visual impairment get significantly worse for people aged 75+. In this survey only 14% of them, not 40%, reported problems reading newsprint.