Although writing and reading seems to be the “traditional” elements of literacy in the modern fields such as health and media, undeniably, they are still one of the most important things in health literacy (HL), as well the complicated things.

In these four chapters the author talks mainly about the writing materials of HL. First, unlike the literature or journal paper, these “practical” writing requires different skills, ideas and perspectives. Usually, printed and Web materials not only need to be written clearly and simply, they also should be designed in ways that readers find inviting and appealing. This kind of “information design” refers to the art of doing, for example, combining words and images to encourage readers to start, and keep, reading.

This is exactly what a blog, or all other modern digital writing should pursue, because nowadays we are all, when writing online and seeking potential readers, “authors”. Therefore I think not only the health materials such as a Website or a pamphlet, but also a blog, an email and even a literature, when people look at a text that is confusing, they don't feel respect because they feel as though they are not “being talked to”, just “being talked at”. Writers should remember that reading isn’t just an intellectual cognitive activity, but also an emotional one, sometimes even toward the efferent texts. In this point of view, the writing of “information design” is more like an art, not a science, with lots of room for subjective judgement from both writers and readers.

However, this is not an easy task for writers. Health materials, whether it’s medical instructions or informed consent forms, always content difficult concepts. How to make it simple without omitting too many information, how to use easy words to explain hard terms, and how to present statistic numbers are all challenges. A good way to identify project goals is by asking yourself what readers should know, do, and feel after reading this document.

But not only documents that has writing. In clinical settings, there are signs everywhere. Even before you walk into a hospital you need to find the right “entrance”.
stock-photo-hospital-entrance-sign-56668519 
Patients and families today speak a wide variety of languages, come from many different countries, and vary widely in their learning abilities. To help people more easily find their way, using symbols such as pictograms or images is a good idea.
160_F_34367578_IlXqlUJw1TxKImWXooUkqs97bVdy1ZD9 veterinary-cardiology

Readers sometimes struggle, too. Today, health care is filled with forms and other “reading-to-do” documents, which the author refers to “written materials that require readers to perform word-based tasks such as filling in numbers, rating satisfaction, checking off instructions, and signing consent”. According to studies, about 1/3 adults has insufficient literacy level to do these. Even our general literacy is ok, when it comes to professional terms we still suffer sometime. Therefore providers should not only try to use plain language, but also provide an environment where people could feel comfortable to read, think and write, and could easily access assistance when needed.

Questions for thinking:
1. Do we need to teach students different kinds of writing, such as the digital writing, in classroom? If so, how?

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uht

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  • 訪客
  • I like the book that you are reading and I am glad you have a blog telling me about it. The book I have is about educating ELL students in the classroom. Basically what you have written is what has to be done in the classroom; mix English words with signs, symbols, and other displays to help people learning English to get the message. It is a Universal Design Instruction of sorts.

    Thank you for letting me see how ELL learning happens outside the classroom!
  • 訪客
  • I really like this statement, "When people look at a text that is confusing, they don't feel respect because they feel as though they are not “being talked to”, just “being talked at.” I never thought about this before. It is so true. We definitely need to think of our audience's needs and perspective of the text when writing.

  • 訪客
  • Do we need to teach students different kinds of writing, such as the digital writing, in classroom? If so, how?

    YES! Great question, today we have 'social media journalism' which means we want it now, and get it now and often in 140 words or less. One style to teach; to write to share 'teaser' bits of knowledge for tweets, link the tweet it to your blog and in the blog link to the main publication. This would be one way to market your scientific journal piece!
  • breid2@cnm.edu
  • I have never thought about the communication from the writer as you described it before. I spend a lot of time in hospitals with my dad and each one is different. I still have trouble navigating UNM even though I spend 10 days there a month. I must say that there are newer facilities that accommodate better than others. As you said, visual images in addition to word signs. Also, I notice some places have every informational poster in 2-4 languages. Some I don't even recognize and didn't realize that there was that diverse of a population here in New Mexico. It's comforting to know there is accommodation.
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