Robert J. Clausen
"If you can't read, you can't be free."
Personal Mission: Give back to people with reading disabilities their self pride and self esteem. Encourage them to stay in school or return to class. Be strong and seek help to better the quality of life and self worth. Overcoming these obstacles to share in the same abilities many other adults take for granted. I do this by sharing my personal struggle of 32 years as an illiterate and talk about how I finally succeeded to overcome my handicap.
Attended Clinton Community College Adult Education Classes and learned to read from 1980 - 1982
Featured on a segment of ABC's "20/20" with Hugh Downs entitled Literacy in America in April of 1982.
Served on State of Iowa Department of Education and Iowa Literacy Council. Helped design literacy programs for adults and children from 1986 - 1992.
1988 - 1992 I served on Bi-State literacy Council (Iowa/Illinois). Primarily was a spokesman to groups in both labor and management. Also gave talks to civic groups and students.
May 19, 1989 Awarded the Iowa Governor's Volunteer Recognition Award for counseling work with illiterate adults.
1995 Wrote my autobiography "An Illiterate in the Closet" with Co-author Willetta Balla'
1999 - 2002 Worked with the Quad Cities Times Newspaper's "Newspapers in Education Program" for K-12 grade students. This project promotes the importance of reading and staying in school.
2002 - Present Continue to speak and work with groups, businesses, schools and in a one on one basis to promote education and learning to combat reading and learning handicaps. Currently aiding to produce and appearing in public service announcements on Fox Channel 18 News uniting reading tutors and students together at our local Iowa and Illinois college outreach centers.
12-10-2004 Featured on Fox 18 News "Home Town Heroes" TV segment for outstanding heroism. Removed a local man from his burning vehicle after a tragic car accident, saving his life.
5-7-2004 Awarded the local 2004 Jefferson Award for public service in the area of promoting literacy.
In conclusion: Although the inability to read among adults is in percentage a small amount of the population, it is a much larger number than many people realize. Most of the population can only imagine what it is like, but keep in mind there are many people who live with this problem every day. The ability to order a meal from a menu to look up a number in the phone book can be overwhelming. This is a choice for most who cannot read not because the inability to learn but the embarrassment to admit to others they can't. By the time most people have reached adulthood and have not learned to read, either by a failed educational system or their own personal circumstances, it then becomes a more difficult process for motivation. I am here to let them know they are not alone and help is available. Help me broaden the horizons of those who are trapped by their own limitations...