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Guidance and Standards

The following guidance and standards can help you make your health information accurate, accessible, and actionable.

Clear Communication Guidance

  • Clear Communication Index [PDF - 671KB]
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    The CDC Clear Communication Index (Index) is a new research-based tool to plan and assess public communication materials. The 4 questions and 20 items in the Index are drawn from the scientific literature in communication and related disciplines. The items represent the most important characteristics to enhance clarity and aid people’s understanding of information.

    The Index provides a numerical score on a scale of 100 so that developers of communication products can objectively assess and improve materials based on the best available science.

    The Index assesses materials in seven areas.

    • main message and call to action
    • language
    • information design
    • state of the science
    • behavioral recommendations
    • numbers
    • risk

    The CDC Office of the Associate Director for Communication (OADC) is making the Index score sheet and User Guide available to organizations that want a science-based clear communication tool. You can download the score sheet and Guide. The score sheet includes instructions, and the Guide includes explanations and examples of the 20 items.

  • Clear Communication: An NIH Health Literacy Initiative
    National Institutes of Health
    NIH has established the Clear Communication initiative that focuses on achieving two key objectives of health literacy: Providing information in the form and with the content that is accessible to specific audiences based on cultural competence, and incorporating plain language approaches and new technologies.
  • Plain – Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public
    The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a group of federal employees whose goal is to promote the use of plain language for all government communications by offering limited editing services to all federal agencies, sponsoring occasional seminars about plain language, comment on agency documents, especially regulations and offering a short half day introduction to plain language and writing for the web free of charge to any federal agency.
  • Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective
    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    The Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective is a health literacy resource from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This 11-part Toolkit provides a detailed and comprehensive set of tools to help you make written material in printed formats easier for people to read, understand, and use.

Web Communication Guidance

  • Health Literacy Online Guide
    Department of Health and Human Services
    This guide is written for web designers, content specialists, and other public health communication professionals. The guide offers an overview of how to deliver online health information that is actionable and engaging, create a health web site that's easy to use, particularly for people with limited literacy skills and limited experience using the web, and evaluate and improve your health Web site with user-centered design.
    Department of Health and Human Services is a one-stop source for government web designers to learn how to make websites more usable, useful, and accessible. The site addresses a broad range of factors that go into web design and development. The site will help you to: Plan and design usable sites by collecting data on what users need, develop prototypes, conduct usability tests and write up results, and measure trends and demographics.

Health Education Tools

  • National Health Education Standards
    The Joint Committee on National Health Education Standards
    The National Health Education Standards (NHES) are written expectations for what students should know and be able to do by grades 2, 5, 8, and 12 to promote personal, family, and community health. The standards provide a framework for curriculum development and selection, instruction, and student assessment in health education.
  • CDC's Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool
    The Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT) can help school districts, schools, and others conduct a clear, complete, and consistent analysis of health education curricula based on the National Health Education Standards and CDC's Characteristics of Effective Health Education Curricula. The HECAT results can help schools select or develop appropriate and effective health education curricula and improve the delivery of health education. The HECAT can be customized to meet local community needs and conform to the curriculum requirements of the state or school district.
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  • Page last reviewed: June 21, 2011
  • Page last updated: June 21, 2011 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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