What Are the Disadvantages of Illiteracy?

The disadvantages of illiteracy include employment-related hurdles such as the inability to create a resume, search classified ads or complete a job applications; quality of life concerns such as being unable to read road signs, restaurant menus and store signage; and psychological impact such as low self-esteem, self-confidence issues, isolation and an underlying sense of shame.

Being unable to enjoy literature, to experience important non-fiction work, and to read influential public opinion pieces, groundbreaking news articles and compelling interviews places severe limitations on an individual’s ability to expand his consciousness, as well as effectively participate in society.

Illiteracy can complicate simple, everyday affairs, such as not being able to read or write an important note, reminder or phone message; being unable to review and make sense of the day’s mail; and the frustration involved in trying to follow a recipe, fill out an entry blank or survey card, or assemble an item per written instructions.

Illiteracy can also be much more perilous. A patient unable to read medication instructions is in danger of an incorrect dosage; others who are too fearful might opt to skip their medication altogether, also a risky proposition. A worker who can’t follow written safety instructions, or who has difficulty reading warning and hazard signs, is a danger to himself and his co-workers.