Health Literacy Out Loud Podcasts
Health Literacy Out Loud Podcasts

Available through

Health Literacy Out Loud Podcast on SpotifySpotify
Health Literacy Out Loud on TuneInTuneIn
Health Literacy Out Loud on AppleApple
Amazon Music
Health Literacy Out Loud on iHeartRADIOiHeartRADIO
Health Literacy Out Loud on RadioPublicRadioPublic
Health Literacy Out Loud on GoogleGoogle
More information about health literacy at Helen’s website, Health Literacy Consulting


Plain Language: It’s About Smartening Up, Not Dumbing Down (HLOL #179)

by | Oct 1, 2018

Karen Schriver PhD is President of KSA Communication Design and Research—a Pittsburgh-based consultancy focused on making information clear, compelling, and usable. She helps organizations draw on the latest empirical research so they can write and design more effective people-centered communications. She is a former professor of rhetoric and information design at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Schriver’s book, Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Texts for Readers has been called a landmark in its field. Winner of fourteen international and national awards for her work, Dr. Schriver is writing a new book about ways to reach busy readers through evidence-based information design and plain language.

In this podcast, Dr. Karen Schriver talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Plain language. Includes not only simpler words but also sentence structure, design, and many other ways to help readers find, understand, and use information. 
  • Reluctance and skepticism about plain language (sometimes expressed as concerns about “dumbing down”) from writers and subject-matter experts.
  • Examples and strategies to make a compelling case for using plain language (or, as Helen sometimes calls this approach, “smartening up”).

More Ways to Learn:

  • “Plain Language in the US Gains Momentum: 1940-2015,” by Karen Schriver. Published in IEEE Transactions of Personal Communication, Volume 60, Issue 4. Abstract available at
  • Dynamics in Document Design: Creating Texts for Readers, by Karen Schriver.

For more information, contact Dr. Schriver at

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 3, 6, 9, 12, 16, 21, 28.

Read the transcript of this podcast. 

Pin It on Pinterest