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Guidance and Standards

Clear Communication Index

CDC developed the Clear Communication Index to identify the most important factors that increase clarity and aid understanding of public messages and materials.

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

Standards

  • The Federal Plain Language Guidelines
    The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN)
    The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communications from government. PLAIN developed and continue to revise The Federal Plain Language Guidelines to provide updated advice on clear communication.
  • 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.
  • National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards
    Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health
    CLAS Standards can help organizations address the cultural and language differences between the people who provide information and services and the people they serve. The principal standard is to provide effective, equitable, understandable and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy and other communication needs.

Guidance

Clear Communication Guidance

  • Clear Communication Index User Guide [3.66 MB, 36 pages]
    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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Index to identify the most important factors that increase clarity and aid understanding of public messages and materials.
    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 [671 KB, 7 pages] and User Guide [1.4 MB, 36 pages] 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.
  • NIH National Cancer Institute “Pink Book” – Making Health Communication Programs Work
    National Cancer Institute
    This book describes a practical approach for planning and implementing health communication efforts. It covers a range of topics, from planning and strategy development, to pretesting materials, to implementing the campaign, to evaluation.
  • 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.
  • Usability.gov
    Department of Health and Human Services
    Usability.gov 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.
 
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