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To sign or not to sign … The “Informed” Consent dilemma

In the late 1990s my doctor suggested I head over to the local academic medical center where a research project was underway to discover the genes associated with my autoimmune condition. That’s when I came face-to-face with my first consent form and the inevitable tradeoff patients make when presented with pages of gobbledygook punctuated by a signature line: either sacrifice understanding in the name of contributing to the greater good, or politely decline.

Twitter click here 508

How and why to use descriptive link language

You’d think that people would know better by now than to use “Click here” for links. It’s not like they haven’t been told.

But I still see it on all the sites, all the time–commercial, entertainment, news, and–even considering Section 508–government sites of all kinds, federal, state, and city.

So I’m taking this opportunity to show you why it’s wrong.

einstein smarten up blog

Smarten up – Don’t be a dummy

A quote (as pointed out by an alert twitter user) variously attributed to Blaise Pascal, John Locke, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Cicero, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, and Mark Twain states, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Coming across this comment again recently reminded me of the familiar complaint that plain language somehow equals “Dumbing Down.”

Caution Sign

Legal writing and the alligator tragedy

Plain English can be a life or death issue.

I’ve heard and read about the heartbreaking tragedy at the Disney resort in Florida, where a 2 year old was snatched from shallow water by an alligator. Better legal writing – meaning better signage – could have prevented this tragedy, and could prevent others.

Health Literacy Online

Top five health literacy tips for developing health websites

As members of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) health literacy team, we are committed to promoting the use of health literacy principles. We recently took a deep dive into the online user experience to write the second edition of Health Literacy Online: A Guide to Simplifying the User Experience, and are honored to have been recognized with a Clear Mark Award for our efforts. We learned a lot about the challenges many people face using health websites. We wanted to share some lessons we learned with those of you who are involved in creating online health content—writers and editors, content managers, digital strategists, user experience strategists, web designers, developers, and other public health communication professionals.