Literacy & Health Literacy (HLOL #141)

Michele Erikson photoMichele Erikson has been involved with adult literacy for many years. She started as a volunteer literacy tutor and now serves as Executive Director of Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. One of Michele’s many accomplishments is overseeing Wisconsin Literacy’s Health Literacy division that not only hosts national health literacy summits but also works closely with adult learners and healthcare professionals to ensure that health information is communicated in ways everyone can understand.

In this podcast, Michele Erikson talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Literacy, an acquired skill that goes beyond decoding written words.
  • Is reading a problem? Why, who, and what to do to improve understanding.
  • How literacy and health literacy overlap, intersect, and differ from the other.

More Ways to Learn:

  • Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. Includes information about Wisconsin Health Literacy. At http://wisconsinliteracy.org/health-literacy/
  • Contact Wisconsin Health Literacy’s director, Steve Sparks at steve@wisconsinliteracy.org or call 608-257-1655
  • Hotdogs and Hamburgers: Unlocking Life’s Potential through Literacy at Any Age, by Rob Shindler. This book includes an insider’s view on tutoring adults.

More Ways to Make a Difference:

  • Volunteer to be a tutor. Change someone’s life through literacy.
  • Advocate to legislators, business leaders and community officials.
  • Ask if your doctor’s clinic participates in Reach Out and Read.
  • Donate or become a member of your local literacy agency.
  • Ask your local service club (Rotary, Kiwanis, Altrusa, Lions, Etc.) to get involved.
  • Use plain language in all your health care communications.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 6, 13, 21, 27.

Read the written podcast transcript.

Creating a Sustainable Health Literacy Business Model (HLOL #105)

MegMeg Poag is the Executive Director of the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas. With training as a social worker and experience in health and human services, Meg has worked in the areas of housing, substance abuse, mental health, and literacy. Now Meg focuses on the design and delivery of specialized health literacy interventions.

In this podcast, Meg Poag talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Challenges in getting adequate funding for adult literacy programs, and health literacy programs.
  • The importance of creating a business plan. Why it’s needed, what’s included, and an example of how a business plan can help.
  • Creating a package of health literacy assessments, interventions, and services that hospitals actually will pay for.

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: 4, 21, 27.

Read a transcript of this podcast.

Creating Usable, Useful Health Websites for Readers at All Levels (HLOL #34)

Stacy Robison MPH, CHES is co-founder of CommunicateHealth — a consulting company based in Northampton, Massachusetts. As a certified health educator, Stacy uses plain language to meet the learning needs of audiences with limited health literacy skills.

For the past three years, Stacy has been writing and designing health content for Quick Guide to Healthy Living — part of the award-winning healthfinder.gov Web site from the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. This site has been tested and developed with close to 800 Web users, most of whom have limited health literacy skills.

In this podcast, Stacy Robison talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • How people with limited literacy skills, health literacy skills, or limited time use online health information.
  • What is different when communicating about wellness and prevention (health promotion) v. communicating about diagnosis and treatment (health care).
  • Ways to design health content so that Web users can, and will, take action.

More ways to learn:

Read a transcript of this podcast.

Applying Adult Education Principles to Medicine & Public Health (HLOL #28)

Dr. Winston Lawrence Winston Lawrence knows a lot about adult literacy education and community health. He works at the Literacy Assistance Center (LAC), a non-profit adult literacy organization providing professional development and technical assistance to the adult literacy community throughout New York City.

In this work, Dr. Lawrence oversees the city-wide implementation of LAC’s Health Literacy Initiative. He trains teachers and health professionals about health literacy principles and strategies. He also facilitates partnerships between literacy agencies and health care institutions.

In this podcast he talks with Helen Osborne about ways to apply adult literacy principles to medicine and public health. Topics include:

  • Why and how a literacy organization got involved with health literacy
  • How teaching practical health literacy skills helps teachers and students alike
  • Ways health literacy partnerships benefit both literacy and health programs
  • Resources to start building health literacy partnerships near you

More Ways to Learn:

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.

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