Archie Willard Talks about Struggling to Read (HLOL #3)

Archie Willard is an ardent and articulate advocate for health literacy. He chairs health literacy workshops and participates in health literacy programs run by organizations including the Iowa Health System, American Medical Association, and the Joint Commission. In addition, Archie is a guest speaker at health literacy conferences across the United States. But he also didn’t learn to read until he was 54 years old. Update: Archie Willard died in 2017. He was in his mid-80s.

Archie Willard talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Growing up as a non-reader
  • Learning to read as an adult
  • How reading problems affect health understanding
  • Ways we all can help

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 3, 21, 27, 31, 41.

Read the transcript of this podcast.


  1. Reading is the key to learning and I could not ever be without the skill.

  2. Reading is one of my greatest joys being blind would be the worst thing for me. Much more than loosing a leg etc. Love to help others learn to read as well.

  3. Thank you for the American Medical Assoc. “Health Literacy Kit” info. I will order it.

  4. Charles Smart says

    Thank you for these references. Two of my cousins are dyslexic. The article in On Call Magazine intrigued me. I personally have a lack of fine motor coordination, but I read well. Interestingly, in medical school I needed pictures, as well as a lucid text, to learn anatomy and some other subjects.

    I would suggest medical schools have educators on board who are familiar with learning disabilities. My school, for instance, stressed note taking and equated one’s writing speed with one’s intelligence.

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