Libraries have always been a community's main source of impartial and accessible information. Books, closed-captioned or signed videos and access to computers can make a great difference in the lives of the Deaf community.
The Deaf Literacy Center began as an effort to provide quality library services to a growing Deaf community in the City of Safety Harbor. The Deaf Literacy Center is a library-based literacy program for Deaf individuals and their families. We offer small group and individualized basic literacy instruction and support services in addition to traditional library and information services to the Deaf community. The program became a countywide effort in 2000 when the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative began administering the program to residents.
Facts About Deafness*
- There are 28 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals in the United States.
- More than 120,000 Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons reside in Pinellas County, Florida.
- 75% of 18 year old Deaf persons are functionally illiterate.
- The average reading level of Deaf high school graduates in the United States is roughly at the fourth grade level.
- Only one fourth of severely to profoundly Deaf students leaving school read at the fifth grade level.
- 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents who do not communicate with them.
Deafness and Hearing Impairment
When I talk about literacy, I like to start with the parents, and remind them they are their children's first teachers, and the home is their first school. With parenthood comes responsibility and accountability. But many parents face daunting challenges of their own — health and financial issues, single parenthood, or a poor educational background. They need our help.
— Barbara Bush
Barbara Bush Foundation
for Family Literacy
Reading to children early and often is the single most important thing parents can do to prepare them to start school ready to learn to read, according to education experts. Children's reading scores improve when their parents are involved in helping them learn to read. The bottom line is this — parents who lack basic literacy skills cannot experience the pleasure of reading to or teaching their children. The children, in turn, will not reap the educational benefit that reading brings. If no one intervenes, this pattern is repeated in each new generation.
The challenges of our families face are clear:
- Nearly 70% report English is not the first language spoken in their home
- 84% of parents have less than an 11th grade education*
- 80% of families earn less than $22,350 annually