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Resources: Center for Health Literacy



You can find information on health literacy, clear communication, plain language, and cultural competence on the following websites.

Health Literacy Basics

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ's Health Literacy resources help health care professionals and delivery organizations make information easier to understand and systems easier to navigate.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Health Literacy Find background information, research, and key resources on health literacy in public health and health care. 

Roundtable on Health Literacy The mission of the Roundtable is to inform, inspire, and activate a wide variety of stakeholders to support the development, implementation, and sharing of evidence-based health literacy practices and policies.

Plain Language Basics

Plain language is communication that helps people

  • find what they need
  • understand what they find
  • use what they find to meet their needs

Learn more about plain language.

Plain Language Videos

This series of brief animated videos uses humor and graphics to show plain language techniques. A caution about the video on bulleted lists: it uses a Western movie skit with simulated guns, bullets, and shooting as a pun on "bullets." The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sponsored the videos.  

Plain language animation video sponsored by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Cultural Competence Basics

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health - Think Cultural Health The website provides information on quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs, health literacy, and other communication needs.

View the Cultural Competence in Health Literacy Primer.

Other Learning Resources


Health Literacy & Equity Chronicles for Health & Well-Being

Our blog has a new home! Check it out here:

This blog explores the intersection between health literacy and health equity as essential factors in a healthy society. We welcome your comments on posts and suggestions for future topics. If you are interested in contributing to this blog, please email us at

April 1, 2019 - Dr. Cynthia Baur - Health Literacy and Equity Principles Can Bring True Reform to US Healthcare

April 8, 2019 - Dr. Boris Lushniak - Health Literacy is the Heartbeat of Public Health

April 15, 2019 - Dr. Stephen Thomas - Health Equity, Health Literacy and the Ethical Imperative to Coalesce

April 19, 2019 - Dr. Sandra Quinn - Health Equity Depends on Clear Communication

April 26, 2019 - Dr. Dushanka Kleinman - Health Literacy Contributes to Achieving Health and Well-being Healthy People 2030 Goals

May 6, 2019 - Dr. Alice Horowitz - Putting the Mouth Back in the Body is Health Literacy Work

Upcoming Events

  • Stay tuned!

Past Events 



  • Mar 26: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in White Plains, Maryland (Charles County)
  • April 27: Maryland Day
  • June 17: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in Cumberland, Maryland (Allegany County)
  • June 20: Practicing Clear Communication Techniques*
  • Sept 16: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in Cockeysville, Maryland (Baltimore County)
  • Oct 10-11: Health Literacy in Action Conference in College Park, Maryland
  • Nov 14: Practicing Clear Communication Techniques*
  • Dec 12: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in Salisbury, Maryland (Wicomico County)

*Only for UMD Extension faculty and staff. If you're interested in a training like this, contact us:


Dr. Devlon Jackson presents on communication inequalities in communities of color experiencing psychological distress.

Health Literacy Legislation

In various states and cities in the nation, policymakers and advocates are working on policies that affect health literacy in communities. The Horowitz Center is tracking information about health literacy-related law and regulations. Below is a list as of December 2018 of passed and proposed legislation. Please contact the Center at with 2019 information. 

Maryland-Specific Policies

2012 Cultural Competency and Health Literacy Act

This act requires the Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities to develop courses with cultural competency, sensitivity, and health literacy, that are designed to address the problem of racial and ethnic disparities in health care access, utilization, treatment decisions, quality, and outcomes. (Passed)

Maryland Bill to Establish Task Force on Oral Health in Maryland

The task force would identify barriers to receiving dental services including the impact of low oral health literacy. (Did not advance)

Health Literacy Laws 

DC Law to Establish a Health Literacy Council
The Health Literacy Council Establishment Act of 2017 establishes a council to "improve the health literacy and knowledge of mental health for District residents." Under this law, the Mayor is required to collaborate with the Council on advancing health literacy education in D.C's public education system and workforce programs. (Adopted but funds not available to implement)

Georgia Resolution about Potential Discriminatory Emergency Room Policies

The resolution details concerns about retroactive emergency room policies that discriminate against patients, including those with lower health literacy. The resolution calls for a study of the problems and recommendations for action or legislation from the committee. 

Michigan Law Implements Web-Based System to Connect Health Care Providers

The law calls for web-based technology to link providers, beneficiaries, and health plans to address deficiencies in medical literacy and demonstrate that personal responsibility is enhanced by technology. 

Oklahoma Law Allows State Agencies to Implement a Primary Care Access Program

The state may include educational strategies to increase health literacy for Oklahoma Medicaid Program participants in a primary care program. 

Proposed Legislation 

California Proposal for Revised Health Education and Materials
The legislation would ensure that all written health education and informing materials developed by managed care plans are at or below the equivalent of sixth grade reading level in English.

Hawaii Proposal to Establish a Certification Process

The resolution requested the establishment of a certification process for services provided by community health workers. The competencies included understanding public health concepts and health literacy and the ability to understand health information technology. 

NY Bill to Establish a Task Force on Health Literacy

A proposed law seeks to establish an "interagency task force on health literacy, to study health literacy and develop recommendations for improving health literacy" within the state.

South Carolina Proposal to Allow Certain Health Practitioners to Receive State Income Tax Credit
The law would authorize a practitioner who practices in a Health Enterprise Zone to receive a state income tax credit and loan repayment assistance. To be eligible, the Health Enterprise Zone practitioner must demonstrate competency in cultural, linguistic, and health literacy in a manner determined by the department.


LegiScan is a legislation tracking device. You can search for health literacy-related legislation here.


On the following websites, you can find a range of tools for improving your professional and organizational health literacy capacities and practices. 

Voter's Guide

The Horowitz Center created an evergreen, non-partisan Voter's Guide in English and Spanish to help voters make decisions in upcoming elections. 


Organizational Assessments


  • Always Use Teach-Back! - This toolkit helps healthcare providers learn to use teach-back to support patients and families throughout the care continuum. (Source: UnityPoint Health n.d.) 
  • Health literacy trainings - Build your health literacy foundation with these free online courses. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

For more resources, check out the AHRQ's Health Literacy page