The people who should be reading this story won't, because they can't.
"You would be amazed how many people can't read or write," says Mary Hausen, executive director of the Wasatch Front Chapter of Literacy Volunteers of America Inc., an agency that is trying to teach English to foreign-born immigrants in Utah, high school dropouts and even a few high school graduates.Among the students her organization helps are Spanish-speaking field workers, Southeast Asian refugees, American Indians, Polish and South American immigrants and many native Utahns who have never learned to read or write.
Hausen, who has an office in her home at 1767 E. Woodside Drive, is a homemaker and a former hospital supervisor. She has been helping people learn to read and write and speak English for the past 12 years.
A native of Idaho and a longtime resident of Connecticut, she moved to the Salt Lake area nearly two years ago and became active in the Literacy Action Center. She formed an affiliate of Literacy Volunteers of America Inc. in July 1988.
Her purpose is to teach volunteers who will then teach others English - survival English at first, but eventually as much of the language as anybody wants to learn.
"There are probably 27 million people in America who can't read English. There is probably less illiteracy in Utah than in most other states, but don't kid yourself, there are still plenty of people in Utah, especially in Salt Lake City, who can't read a newspaper or who can't write a simple note."
She said many people who hold down full-time jobs, some in supervisory positions, can't read or write. "They fake it in a hundred ways, every day,' she said.
"They pretend they have forgotten their glasses or they have assistants or friends write a note for them, as if they were too busy to do it themselves."
Hausen said anybody can learn to teach others how to read and write. Her standard course takes two full days and costs $15, which pays for books and other materials the students will use teaching others.
Hausen volunteers all her time and her husband, Donald, donated $500, the first seed money, to start up the Literacy Volunteers chapter in Utah.
Her typical training sessions are held on two consecutive Saturdays, often at the New Hope Multi-Cultural Refugee Center, 1102 W. Fourth North, Salt Lake City. She said she can set up training courses anywhere and anytime, though, where there are volunteers.
Volunteers taking the course learn how to teach people how to read street signs, store and business signs, how to catch a bus, how to read grocery store labels and, eventually, will teach others a basic vocabulary of 300 or more survival words.
Teachers also are taught how to help the illiterate learn to fill out employment and other forms and, especially, how to enroll in local schools.
Volunteers must agree to spend at least 104 hours a year, or two hours a week, teaching others to read and write. Volunteers usually teach others on a one-to-one basis or in small groups and arrange their instruction sessions at the convenience of the instructor and the people they are teaching.
Hausen said teachers use a method founded by Ruth Colvin, a Syracuse, N.Y., housewife, nearly 28 years ago. "We teach blocks of knowledge, not just words, and we use modeling techniques, which means teaching people by examples."
During the weeks and months of instruction, teachers give their students simple tests to see how they are doing and whether they are learning. "We are careful to respect people's religious beliefs, their cultural backgrounds and their feelings in general.
"It is not easy for some people to admit they cannot read or write, especially if they have lived in America awhile - and especially if they were born here and simply didn't learn all the time they were in high school."
Hausen said illiteracy is like a barrier about someone's life. "They can't really live a full life in today's world if they can't read or write. They know it and they suffer."
To find out more about being a volunteer or about the literacy program, contact Hausen at 277-0883.
"We need money, we need volunteers, we need everything. What we have are a lot of people who need help," she said. "Right now we have more than 25 people - from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, South America, Korea, Poland and Afghanistan - on our waiting list and we haven't enough volunteer teachers to help them."