August 16, 2012

Putting metrics behind how well (or poorly!) you communicate

We're AMA certified! That sounds good to read aloud. A few weeks ago I went to Chicago for two days of rigorous training at the American Medical Association WORLD HEADQUARTERS(!!!) to become one of ten nation-wide certified vendor-consultants offering their communication assessment of hospitals and clinics.

The assessment that we now offer, called the Communication Climate Assessment Toolkit (CCAT), measures 9 domains that contribute to effective patient-provider communication and are strongly correlated to patient reported quality of care and trust in the healthcare provider. Expectations in each domain were CCAT 360.jpegdeveloped considering overall importance, feasibility of implementation, and potential for measurement. Hospitals and clinics who bring Health Literacy Forward in to facilitate the CCAT receive validated scores, comparisons to national averages, and QI consultation in each of the following domains: 
  • Leadership commitment   
  • Information collection
  • Community engagement
  • Workforce development
  • Individual engagement
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Language services
  • Health literacy
  • Performance evaluation

Learn more about CCAT at the AMA Ethical Force Website or just give me a call!

What's more, seven of the above nine domains were recently endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF) as leading measures of health disparities and cultural competency. This is BIG NEWS!! Check out the press release from NQF to learn more.

If you're wondering what the heck all this Health Literacy Forward talk is recently...I wrote this short summary just for you!

Health Literacy Forward, a program of the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, provides quality improvement consulting and trainings for hospitals and clinics around effective health communication. While 75% of preventable readmissions result from miscommunication, Health Literacy Forward, a certified vendor-consultant of the American Medical Association, helps healthcare agencies reduce preventable readmissions, ensure compliance with accreditation and regulatory requirements, and improve patient-safety and reported quality of care. 
HLFlogo 3

June 27, 2012

Calling all Central Texas Social Service Provider Teams!


You are conducting an intake with a potential new client for your social service program. Let’s call potential new client, Bob. As you describe the services available for Bob and the process for determining eligibility, Bob returns your questions and comments with blank stares, silence, and rolling of eyes.

Not so unusual, you may say.

You try to read Bob’s mood and body language and decide to move along with the intake. Bob nods his head in affirmation when you ask if he is interested in the program you are describing, so you ask him to fill out a very basic intake form. Suddenly Bob becomes very chatty, changing the subject from the topic at hand. As he chats away, you detect a sense of urgency in his voice. You begin to wonder if he was even listening to the last 30 minutes worth of information you explained to him- he is now talking about an entirely non-related event. He doesn’t pick up the pencil you set down in front of him. You notice he hasn’t even turned the intake form around… when you have handed it to him upside-down….

As a social service provider, you would probably consider a variety of possible explanations for Bob’s behavior. But I’m curious…was literacy one of the factors you considered? (I know- probably obvious, since this post is on a literacy coalition blog.)

In fact, literacy is very likely to be a barrier for many of the people who cross our paths. 1 in 5 Central Texans are like Bob, unable to read or write well enough to fill out a basic job application.
So where do you come in? You may think, “Well I’m not a teacher…the last book I read was in the 10th grade…who am I to talk about literacy with my clients?”

In response, the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas has designed a special training for our local social service teams. As part of our ongoing Literacy Illuminates campaign we want to arm social service teams with the tools to identify low literacy and connect clients to literacy services in the community.

This will be a 30 minute workshop we can offer at your next staff meeting and it will cover the following information:
  •  Defining literacy
  • Why is literacy so important?
  • About the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas
  • Types of literacy services
  • Literacy Illuminates campaign and providers’ roles
  • Identifying clients who are low literate 
  •  Connecting Clients with Literacy Services (How to use LCCT hotline and online searchable database)
Trainings will begin in July! If you would like to sign up your team of 5 or more providers, or if you would like more information about this workshop, please contact Emily at

June 19, 2012

Quick Health Literacy Updates

More often than not, when I sit down to write a blog post I feel a bit of writer's block. I think, what do these people want to know about my job and health literacy? Today I'm feeling that familiar feeling...we have a lot of cool stuff going on right now, but I don't know what you all want to hear about! Leave us a comment below to let me know who you (the reader) are and what you'd like to hear from me about.

For now, I'll just give you some quick updates from our Health Literacy Department. 

We had a very successful Health Literacy Luncheon for Austin-area community leaders in partnership with Seton, Humana and Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
From left: Peter and Meg of LCCT, Andy Martinez, CEO of GAHCC, Annie Crawford, Director of Ventanilla de Salud and chair of GAHCC Health & Wellness Committee, and Geronimo Rodriguez, VP of Diversity and Inclusion at Seton.

I also just got back from the week long Health Literacy Curriculum Development and Educational Leadership Institute at Tufts University School of Medicine...I learned so much and was also felt like a real asset to the group, especially on day-2 when I presented our work as a model example for others around the country. I could write 100 blog posts with all the things I learned or was reminded of during the Institute!

I'm excited to start developing a Health Literacy and Ethics workshop for Harden Healthcare's Leadership Conference in August...I'll be co-presenting with an attorney so that will be very interesting! Also in the training realm, I've had a few great workshops recently with interesting angles coming from the mental health field with Austin Travis County Integral Care, telephone communication with United Way/2-1-1, and am excited for a series of diabetes-specific HL workshops that I'm delivering to Baylor Healthcare System in a few weeks.

We're looking forward to the national publication of our Health Literacy Instructional Guide? We're excited about the expected release of that to the public early this coming fall. 

I'd love to hear your suggestions...what do you want to hear about? Health literacy curriculum development? Making partnerships with healthcare providers? Launching an earned-income venture?

I guess the first thing I need to know is...who's my reader? Health literacy folks...can you hear me? Am I talking to healthcare providers, literacy instructors, engaged community members? Holla at a playa with a comment and I'll be sure to write about the things in which you're interested! 

May 29, 2012

Dumbing Down or Wising Up?

In light of the upcoming 2012 presidential elections, the push to “get out the vote” and the call for increased civic engagement nationwide, let us be reminded what a huge part literacy plays in all of this!

A recent study by the Sunset Foundation reported that today’s Congress collectively speaks at a 10.6 grade level. The study analyzes various cornerstone governmental addresses/publications and has assigned grade levels at which they were written.

  “…Whether you see it as plainspeak or you see it as a dumbing down, the data are clear: The overall complexity of speech in the Congressional Record has dropped almost a full grade level since 2005” (Drutman, 2012).

Plainspeak? Dumbing down?

Are these really the only two viable lenses through which we should view this trend?

If we look at current literacy trends, it is certainly worth noting that in Central Texas alone, 121,074 adults age 16 years and older struggle with reading or cannot read at all.

While some may say it’s dumbing down, maybe in fact politicians are finally wising up to the realities of their audience. I think we could all agree Congress has been speaking over the heads of the average American for years. Is it really such a terrible thing to start breaking down some of the overall complexity- a.k.a. - political lingo and jargon within our governing bodies?! How can we expect to be a government for the people by the people, after all, if the people do not comprehend?

Literacy is foundational for an individual’s ability to participate and engage with their community, whether it is to engage politically or simply buy groceries or fill out a job application. That is why organizations such as LCCT continue to work to expand the quality and availability of literacy services in Central Texas.

Check out how literacy services are shaping Central Texas by visiting our website to learn more about the specific partner agencies and programs we support.

May 8, 2012

Literacy is a GIFT

Did you know that just two weeks ago on April 23rd, sixty-two Austinites gave away over 7,000 books? For FREE?! That’s right, Austin took the prize for number of book givers per capita for World Book Night.

The mission: Get books into the hands of those that aren’t exposed to them.

I’m proud to say that I was one of those 62 givers, and my 30 books, John Irving’s “The Poisonwood Bible,” went to the individuals and families living at SafePlace. That night books made the rounds to all sorts of haunts, some predictable (like Book People and public schools), others not (like handing out books to Goodwill shoppers, unsuspecting street strollers, and a local drum circle).

I don’t have any snazzy pictures to accompany my book-giving prowess, so I’ll pass the torch to one of my fellow book givers who sums up her experiences nicely in, “rather be reading.”

May 2, 2012

The Gauntlet is Thrown: A Health Literacy Instructor Challenge!

Fresh from the Health Literacy Department - One of the best ways to teach health literacy and patient empowerment in the ESL, ABE or GED classroom is to guide your learners through their development of a personal health journal. A few years ago we developed the Doctor's Visit Toolkit. Inside, we provided general tips to be an empowered patient and templates for learners to practice completing common forms they'll see in the healthcare setting. Together with learners, we work our way through the Doctor's Visit Toolkit and upon completion, we encourage learners to bring it with them as a reference tool the next time they go to the clinic or hospital.

Through mid-July, we're challenging our Central Texas instructors to take on the Doctor's Visit Toolkit with their learners. Use it as an ongoing project that learners work on over several weeks. Once you've completed the activity with your class, send us an email with a sample of the journal you've created. Literacy Coalition employees and advisers will choose the top three models and share them in our next quarterly newsletter (scheduled for release on July 15th). The creator of the top journal will also have a featured article in the newsletter (distribution to 1000+ people) and win a prize package valued over $50!

Much of what you might include in a health journal can be found on our Resources Page. Email Peter if you don't have the 1st Edition of the Health Literacy Instructional Manual yet (that will be a great resource to get you started!) or if you'd like some templates of medical forms that were used in the Doctor's Visit Toolkit.

Things you might include...just to get you started:
  1. Medication schedule chart
  2. Medical history form
  3. Family history
  4. Sample insurance form
  5. List of key vocabulary for navigating hospital or doctor's office (e.g., information desk, emergency, pediatrics, physician, etc.)
  6. AskMe3 and other recommended questions to ask the doctor or nurse
  7. Patient-empowerment tips
  8. And much more! Talk with your students about what they want to learn regarding health information and get creative!  
Good luck and don't hesitate to call or email Peter if you have questions or want some resources to get you started! 



April 26, 2012

So cliché?

“Two heads are better than one.”

“Power in numbers...”

“T.E.A.M. = together everyone achieves more…”

The clichés and idioms are countless, and it’s certainly nothing new to propose that collaboration and cooperation among diverse players can lead to great results. At the core of the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, we strive to create and maintain collaborative partnerships with fellow agencies across Central Texas for the sake of improving quality and availability of literacy services.  

But have you ever stopped and asked- Who says this is how things should get done?

How are we measuring that a coalition is in fact a ‘best choice’ vehicle to foster increased community capacity for social change?

Why do these questions exist? Because measuring the impact of a coalition is complex and few evaluation tools have been designed to measure the multi-level realities of community coalitions.  

LCCT interacts with community direct services, program management, organizational management and policy at city, county and national levels.  So where do we measure from? How do we assess the big picture for what we are doing?

While LCCT believes in the good work we are achieving, and we have much to show for our efforts already- more hard data is always ideal.

LCCT is excited to announce a new project that will seek to tackle the challenges of assessing our big picture impact. We have designed a two part assessment tool in the form of an online survey that will be administered to our 50+ partner agencies. This tool was designed in consideration of best practices research for literacy services as well as in reflection of similar initiatives/projects ongoing within the health sector.

We are excited to be in the process of administering Part 1 of the survey at this time.

Part 2 will be administered in June 2012.

In August this year we will have a wealth of knowledge gathered from our partner agencies to report back out to the community and to guide future practice within the coalition.

If you would like more details about the tool, or to view a copy of this tool, you can contact Emily Pulley at

Stay tuned for exciting new insights into the big picture impact of LCCT in the Central Texas area!

April 13, 2012

5000 advertisements a day!

The first time I heard about media literacy I was in my 6th grade English class and our teacher was having us cut up magazines to recreate the advertisements with our interpretation of what it was they were trying to convey or sell. I have to admit I didn’t really understand why he was having us do it, but hey, we were getting to look at magazines and make collages during school, so I wasn’t about to complain.  Media literacy completely fell off my radar until I got to high school and became interested in the use of advertising in political campaigns to make voters feel something about a particular candidate whether or not it was a true reflection of who the candidate was or what they stood for. This got me wondering how much advertising influenced the decisions people make on a daily basis and the way we form relationships with other people as well as with the inanimate objects promoted in advertisements.

I bet most of you are thinking, “Hey, I’m an intelligent, well-educated person. I know how to make rational decisions. Advertisements don’t really have any influence on me.” Maybe, but we are living in an era of media saturation – think about how much time you spend on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or email or surfing the net. Advertisements have become harder and harder to differentiate from other forms of media. Some estimate that we are exposed to close to 5000 advertising messages daily! So, whether or not you believe advertisements influence the decisions you make, it doesn’t hurt to buff up your media literacy skills so that you can be both a critical thinker and creative producer of media.

So what exactly is media literacy? Essentially it is a communication skill set that enables a person to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information in a variety of forms (this includes both print and non-print media). It is not an anti-media movement but rather a movement to empower individuals as we make choices as students, citizens, workers, consumers, and (to tie this back to my role as Health Literacy Intern) as patients. One day there’s an article on how ________ food that is good for you and the next day there’s a new article about how it may cause _______.  One day low-fat diets are touted as the best prescription for weight loss and the next it’s low-carb diets. How am I supposed to figure out healthy eating with all the mixed messages? And all those advertisements for drugs that are supposed to help with anxiety, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, PMS.  How can I figure out if one is right for me? What if my doctor doesn’t prescribe the one I’ve seen on TV? Should I ask for a different prescription? Or for those of us who like to self-diagnose our symptoms, which websites are actually providing trustworthy information and how do I know whether I’ve just got bad allergies or a brain tumor when swollen, stinging, draining eye is a symptom of both? That’s where media literacy can help. It doesn’t have all the answers, but it will help us to think more critically about the messages we receive, question the source of the information and the motivation behind the message.

Interested in learning more about media literacy, check out some of my favorite media literacy advocates: Media Education FoundationSut Jhally, Jean Kilbourne, Jackson Katz, the National Association for Media Literacy Education, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In the adult literacy classroom you can help your students improve their media literacy by creating activities and discussions comparing advertisements and public health announcements. You can check out more in our Health Literacy Workshops for Literacy Instructors.

April 9, 2012

The Bee Team Trivia Challenge: Game On!

I know you're out there, fellow lovers of language and purveyors of piquant prose. I see you on your cell phones, playing Words with Friends and Scramble to tide you over before your next opportunity to feel the barely-there weight of seven lovely little worn wooden tiles in your hand as you lean over a Scrabble board. I have good news: you're not alone in this big strange city of ours. Join us at 6:00pm on Tuesday, April 10, at the Yellow Jacket Social Club to get your smarty-pants fix. We offer 9 rounds of language, spelling, grammar, etymology, definitions, and other language-related trivia. You and your team of up to 6 folks get to test your mettle for free and win sweet prizes from local establishments. This week: win $30 at Buenos Aires Cafe! That's a glass of wine for everyone on your team. So grab your pocket protector and join your fellow grammarians and bibliophiles to revel together in our collective, otherwise-largely-useless knowledge! Let us know you're coming: RSVP on our Facebook event page!

April 2, 2012

Health Literacy Forward Pitch - Tune in, venture capitalists!

Here at the Literacy Coalition, we are in the midst of launching a business. Yeah, that's right. A genuine, money-making, corporate world, big$$, for-profit business. In my next post, I'll write more about why I think it's so important for us, the non-profit world, to step outside of our just-scraping-by, begging-for-money, throw-us-a-bone silo, and start finding new ways to become sustainable. But for now, check out this pitch I did at the RISE Austin Social Innovation Fast Pitch Competition. This was a "rough draft" version that I used while bear with me as I stumble over a few words and speak a little too quickly. Check it out! 

Check out our health literacy page on the website to learn more!

Or follow me on twitter!

March 25, 2012

What do you think is the most important problem facing this country?

A CBS News/ New York Times Poll from March 7-11, 2012 asked adults nationwide, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?”

51% responded Economy/Jobs. Only 2% responded Education.

Can we so significantly prioritize one over the other and expect to see positive change? Perhaps the two really go hand in hand?

Before you answer, here are some important statistics to consider:

  • One in seven adults cannot read a job application. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy)
  • 67% of the service industry’s jobs in 1983 required a high school diploma or less; this will shrink to NO jobs for high school dropouts in 2018 (Help Wanted, see Figure 4.17, pg. 86).
  • An estimated 80-90 million adults—nearly half the workforce—lack the basic education and skills to qualify for the jobs that are being created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. We cannot bridge that gap unless we invest in our nation’s adult basic education and literacy programs in tandem with job training and workforce development programs (National Coalition for Literacy). 
 In light of an economic downturn and daunting statistics such as those listed above, it would seem then that we as a nation would throw our focus onto educating the workforce. Yet, commitment to adequate federal education funding has been declining rapidly- at all levels!

Despite ongoing inconsistencies for federal dollars, and education program after program thrown on the chopping block, the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas has taken a stand for investment in education. LCCT has facilitated a collaborative planning process with adult literacy programs, Workforce Solutions Capital Area, and Austin Community College to create the new Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC).  By securing a 3-year contract with the City of Austin, the 13 partner agencies (Austin Adult Literacy Network) established a more coordinated system for adults to seamlessly transition through community-based educational programming, job training, and other support services. The WERC continuum launches in April of 2012, and will dramatically increase the number of adults receiving adult literacy instruction in Austin.

Stay tuned to our website More information about how WERC will shape the Central Texas Community is coming soon!

March 21, 2012

Help me to understand...

I had a professor in graduate school who told our class that he knew when his wife was REALLY angry when she would start a sentence with the words "Help me to understand..." I laughed at the time, yet over the years I have found myself actually using that phrase as a helpful tool when I'm angry and frustrated. And I find myself wanting to use it today... 1. Help me to understand how the federal recovery act dollars, meant to help adults improve their employment situations, completely side-stepped GED and ESL instruction programs? 2. Help me to understand why over half of the education-focused foundations in the Austin area that previously supported adult education have shifted their focus exclusively to children? 3. Help me to understand how so many people seem to want to ignore the immense needs of 25% of the parents in this community... Parents who cannot make ends meet and cannot help their kids with their schoolwork. Shouldn't this be a priority? Shouldn't the government care? Shouldn't philanthropists care? Am I missing something? Please excuse my rant... Sometimes harsh realities smack me in the face. I'm worried about the future of these families, and the future of our community if their needs continue to go unmet. Sincerely, if you can offer any thoughts or insight on this, post away!

March 15, 2012

What's the Deal with the Spelling Bee?

If you know the Literacy Coalition at all, you know that every year we put on a huge event called the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee. It's a team competition that's known for getting pritt-ay rowdy: on-stage antics range from a humanoid robot hurtling insults at the competition to men in chaps, black leather dog collars and little else flirting with the judges (and each other), and everything in between. So obviously there's the entertainment value, but why do we do it? And more importantly, why do we keep doing it year after year, and why should you plan to come? For starters, it's great public awareness. Our community needs to know that fewer than 1 in 20 adults living in Central Texas who needs to improve their literacy has access to a program. And there are 70+ literacy programs in Central Texas, people! From Adult Basic Education (the nuts and bolts of grammar, language, and writing) to GED preparation, people need opportunities to better their situations - for themselves and often for their families. It's also our biggest fundraising venture of the year. Did you know that since 2010, the Literacy Coalition's budget has more than doubled? In the for-profit world, that would mean our stock price skyrocketed over the past 2 years! Fortunately we don't have to worry about the NASDAQ. Here in the nonprofit world, our investors are our community - the companies that sponsor teams, the friends who come together to sponsor a table, and the individuals who see the $50 entry ticket as a meaningful contribution to ending poor literacy in Central Texas (which is exactly how we see it, by the way!). Besides, we feed you lunch! What's better than dinner AND a show? So come be our date at the Great Grown Up Spelling Bee this year on May 9 at Austin Music Hall. The party starts at 11:30, so join us and take a stand for literacy in Central Texas! Click the logo above for more info, or send an email to Maegan Ellis, Literacy Coalition Operations Manager, to purchase your table or ticket today!

March 12, 2012

Rethinking the Food Label

Have you ever found yourself staring at the side of a cereal box or the back of a bag of chips trying to figure out what all those numbers and percent daily values mean? Or if you are trying to stick with a low-fat diet because of your heart disease or diabetes, whether it would be an approved item and if so, how much of it you could eat? Sometimes it feels as though trying to read a nutrition label is as challenging as deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs, although those at least are sort of pictures so you can guess the meaning based on that.

Well, the government decided to redesign nutrition labels back in January 2011 to make it more user-friendly (bet you didn't even notice). The new label, called the Nutrition Key, is supposed to help consumers more easily determine how healthy a particular food is. Unfortunately, the only thing that seems to be easier about the new label is that it is located on the front of the package. It still relies on all those confusing numbers and percent daily values that most people struggle to make sense of. (In fact, because making sense of a nutrition label is so complicated, one way of standardized methods for evaluating a person's health literacy level is the Newest Vital Sign that asks folks to answer a set of questions based on a nutrition label).

With all the effort being made to improve health communication and make plain-language the standard, you would think government would want to transition away from a label full of numbers and crazy terms towards a more pictoral system like they use in Britain or Scandinavia. In response to the government's failed attempt at improving nutrition labels, GOOD magazine, in partnership News21, created Project: Redesign the Food Label. They asked designers, food policy experts and the average Joe to think about how they would redesign nutrition labels. Would they stick with a design that focused on calorie counts and percent daily values or would they completely re-imagine the label and evaluate a food based on some other criteria such as it's quality, carbon footprint or cultural significance? How would you redesign the food label? What information do you think is important for consumers to know? How would you present that information? You can check out the winning designs here.

March 8, 2012

What can a nonprofit learn from a food truck?

Well, I don’t really know but with our hundreds of food trucks, Austin seems like the perfect place to find out! Neck deep in nonprofit work myself, I’d like to know what sort of quips of enlightenment a food truck can offer to help sustain the work we do. Apparently, there’s not just one thing I can learn from a food truck but SIX. Yep, you read that right. It’s intriguing enough that I’m going to make the GREAT TREK NORTH Friday afternoon (I’m a die-hard South Austin gal) to the JJ Pickle Research Center. The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) is hosting a half-day event in conjunction with the very-great Austin 501 Tech Club (big supporters of Learner Web!), and it just so happens that one of their breakout sessions will reveal the answer to this most elusive of questions.

Also debuting at the event is the much-awaited Community Technology Map. I concede that probably only those of us who need to know where public computer labs and computer classes are in the city have been anxiously awaiting its release, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. It just means we’re the only ones that knew about its existence to date. Now YOU know, so spread the word. This interactive map is for all those programs with clients that need to learn how to use a computer, or heck, those of us whose parents desperately need to learn how to use one so that they stop calling us at all hours of the day asking, “Do I need to pay attention to the window-thingy that says something about a Java something?”

And if food trucks and cool maps aren’t enough to draw you there, I think I heard something about a happy hour…

March 2, 2012

What it feels like to have low health literacy

Imagine you’re naked. Ok well, I guess not fully naked, but pret'near (that's how my grandma says "pretty near") naked because all you’re wearing is a loose fitting hospital robe. You feel sick, stressed, and have been in the hospital for several hours. In rushes your doctor, speaking quickly and preparing to send you on your way. She hands you a piece of paper and says, “read this and let me know if you have any questions.”

The paper reads: 
Check the reppu and rewol rotaidar sesoh along with the smaller retemaid heater sesoh. Inspect each esoh along its entire htgnel, and ecalper any esoh that is dekcarc, nellows, or shows sngis of noitaroireted. If you ezeeuqs the esoh, skcarc may become more tnerappa. Make sure the esoh snoitcennoc are thgit. You may see etihw or tsur deroloc stisoped on the areas dnuora the kael.

Now, without cheating by looking back at what you've just read, try to answer these questions. 
  1. What is this passage about?
  2. What do you need to do first?
  3. Where are those hoses?
  4. For what are you inspecting the hoses? 
How did you do? Were you able to answer these questions?

How did you FEEL while reading the instructions?
I imagine you had a hard time reading this passage. Many of you may have given up, thinking, “This is stupid. These aren’t even real words.” Or maybe you got frustrated because it was difficult, and that’s why you gave up.

If you did crack the code, congratulations! It wasn’t actually Russian…the words are just spelled backwards! But for those of you who cracked the code and finished the paragraph, I imagine you still struggled to answer some of the questions.

This is how a low literate or low health literate individual feels when handed paperwork in the waiting or exam room. When we are required to concentrate on individual words – struggling to pronounce and understand their meaning or in this case, concentrating on reconfiguring the spelling of a word in our head – by the time they get the end of the sentence or passage, there is little hope for comprehension.

We use this exercise in our Effective Communication trainings for healthcare providers and I really like it because it’s a great way for us to better understand how it feels for so many of our learners and patients when they are handed consent forms, discharge instructions, or other written materials in the healthcare setting.

Want to learn more about our health literacy initiative? Check out our website and email me so we can discuss. You can also follow me on twitter for the most interesting 140 character updates you'll ever read.