I can't recall when Jonathan Kozol's book Illiterate America was published, but I'd say roughly 2 decades ago. At that time he stated that "1/3 of Americans are functionally illiterate"
I am curious as to what the current stats are. At one point I had made a decision that I wasn't going to be a patient at any clinic or facility where the American staff can't speak or write functional English. Yeah, right. That was a fruitless decision because nearly all of the clinics I've dealt with since 94, the support staff are frighteningly illiterate. I assume they get hired because there are no candidates applying for the positions who are literate!
Yesterday, a physician's assistant left a message on my voice mail (yes, it was intended for me) "San, Sandra, Sander I am calling to ask you if you are coming to your appt. today?!" (Sandra Sander?! I am so stunned, I listen to the message 3x)
When this same woman goes to weigh me, I told her what my weight is in advance. She replied: "LOOK IT'S LESSER!" (are you kidding me?)
I also got a call from a law office where the recep. said to my voice mail: "I'm returning elaine sinder's call back!"
If we are an interdependent society, and poor peoples lives are largely in the hands of the functionally illiterate, it doesn't seem to lend much hope!