CLEVELAND (WJW) — Many Ohioans complain about the troubles they encounter, trying to make a reservation for a COVID-19 vaccine. But for people who struggle to read and write, getting accurate information about the coronavirus and vaccines, in general, can often be a daunting task.
“When you’re a student who struggles with literacy, then being able to make sense out of all the information that’s out there, that can be very challenging,” said Carmine Stewart, vice president of programming for the Seeds of Literacy.
Sorting through information and misinformation, related to coronavirus and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine can be mind-boggling for just about anyone. But for someone who is functionally illiterate, it can be overwhelming.
“They struggle with basic tasks, like reading, writing, taking information, numerical or printed and then being able to understand what they’re reading and then being able to apply that,” said Stewart.
Seeds of Literacy offers various adult education programs in Cleveland.
Stewart says 66 percent of Cleveland residents are considered functionally illiterate. 88 percent of people in the program lack the most basic computer skills, which puts them at a major disadvantage when trying to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination.
“It makes it difficult to have a device and know how to use that device, to navigate the site to register for the vaccinations, or having an email that they can reliably access to confirm those appointments,” she said.
In addition, embarrassment, particularly for someone not enrolled in a program, can prevent someone from asking for help. They may also hear vaccine rumors without knowing how to verify if they’re true.
Seeds of Literacy tutors try to provide the latest vaccine information in a way students can easily understand.
“We try to write things around the sixth-grade reading level. We may include videos for students who we know may not read something — short videos that will capture anyone’s attention span,” said Stewart.
Stewart says their students take care of families and serve their communities. Some are eager to be vaccinated. Others are hesitant.
“We just want to make sure that they have full and complete information so that they can make the healthiest decisions for them,” said Stewart.