Understanding illiteracy is all in the eyes

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Victor Kuperman wants to stamp out illiteracy – but first, he has to understand its root cause.

According to the assistant professor of linguistics and languages, 30 per cent of Canadians aged 16-25 are functionally illiterate. That means that while they can read some words, they can’t process simple instructions, such as reading a medical prescription.

“They’re severely handicapped in every aspect of their lives,” he says.

That’s why Kuperman and his team are working to understand where people go wrong when reading.

Kuperman uses sophisticated eye-tracking equipment to analyze reading patterns and “problem areas” – such as the need to read a word several times, or jumping around a page of text.

Doing so helps researchers understand how they might help those who struggle with literacy.

He talks about the process in the video below: