Printed health content can come in a variety of forms, from dense black and white medication package inserts in 6-point font, to full color pictorials that tell a story without any words, to anything in between. Health Literacy Universal Precautions suggests creating communications that are accessible to audiences of all literacy levels.

Printed health information has several advantages:

  • Materials can be relatively inexpensive to design and create.
  • Printed information does not require any special equipment to access.
  • Content may be physically or scanned and electronically shared with others.
  • Print materials cannot be hacked like electronic communications, although privacy laws covering personal health information (PHI) still apply.

Printed health information may not be accessible for:

  • Consumers who have vision or auditory impairments. Audiovisual formats with ALT text may be better suited, particularly for those using screen reading technology.
  • Consumers with basic or below basic literacy skills. This is especially true for documents that contain a large amount of prose. While plain language content combined with descriptive graphics or illustrations can help, audiovisual materials may be more effective for this population.
  • Consumers who prefer information printed in a different language. Unless it is available in multiple languages, print information can exclude linguistically diverse audiences.

There are a large number of health literacy resources available to guide development and evaluation of printed materials.

  • Links to other relevant areas of CHLS site
  • Links to resources

Take a self-guided tour of the Health Literacy Ecosystem

The Health Literacy Ecosystem offers an overview of the skills and knowledge, settings and sources, audiences, and communication formats that are foundational to our field. Navigate within and across spheres, or dive into a topic and connect to resources. We welcome your contributions.