Clear Language Group members have been leaders in defining and building the health literacy, plain language, and cross cultural communication fields for over 25 years. Read about our landmark accomplishments, contributions, awards, and honors, as well as our service on national and international boards.

The Early Years: Before Health Literacy was a Well-known Term
  • 1987. Established the Health Literacy Project at Health Promotion Council in Philadelphia, PA.
  • 1989. Co-founded a health literacy initiative in Maine in partnership with the late Jane Root, Ph.D.
  • 1991. Conducted the first health literacy training for national staff at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA.
  • 1992. Co-founded and co-chaired the National Work Group on Cancer and Literacy, the first federal government–sponsored meeting of health and literacy experts in Bethesda, MD.
  • 1992. Sponsored and conducted the 1st Annual National Summer Institute, Write It Easy to Read, at the University of New England, Biddeford, ME.
Expanding the Field: Raising Awareness and Establishing Programs
  • 1994. Charged with developing a list of easy-to-read terms and labels for over-the-counter (OTC) drugs as members of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expert team. The FDA started this initiative to help the public safely navigate OTC products.
  • 1995. Collaborated with U.S. Pharmacopeia to conduct the first large-scale field testing of pictograms among multi-ethnic limited readers.
  • 1995. Established the Asian Health Literacy Project in Philadelphia to bring easy-to-read educational materials and programs to four Asian language groups—one of the first programs in the nation to combine literacy and health education in Asian publications.
  • 1996. Developed, published, and distributed Literacy, Health and the Law: An Exploration of the Law and the Plight of Marginal Readers within the Health Care System. This was one of the first attempts to effect system-wide changes in health communication.
  • 1996. Conducted three national seminars for Medicaid personnel as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Medicaid Managed Care Initiative—one of the first federal initiatives of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to bring health literacy principles into their efforts.
  • 1998. Established a community health care interpreter training program to serve the mid-Atlantic region.
  • 1998. Created the first-ever plain language application for federal funds for Special Diabetes Program grants through the Indian Health Service.
  • 1999. Designed materials and a comprehensive health initiative for the National Library of Medicine on how to help older adults use the Internet to get medical information.
  • 1999. Established the Clear Language Group as a consortium.
A New Century: Increasing the Depth and Scope of Health Literacy, Plain Language, and Cross Cultural Communication
  • 2000. Began ongoing consultancy to Pfizer’s Clear Health Communication efforts—training, consulting, supporting organizational change, editing, writing, and reviewing materials.
  • 2000. Organized and presented “health literacy theatre” (actors were adult literacy students) at the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Conference on Patient Education.
  • 2002. Created templates for SAMSHA and the CDC to write easy-to-read RFPs to aid people applying for government grants.
  • 2002. Published and disseminated Literacy, Health and the Law Update.
  • 2002. Major contributor to Outreach Reference Manual for Farmworker Health Services, Inc.—the first comprehensive guide to reaching farmworkers with health information and services.
  • 2003. Named by the National Sickle Cell Association as their limited literacy and plain language expert—a continuing role.
  • 2003. Facilitated ongoing working collaboration of New Readers of Iowa (a state adult literacy group) with Iowa Health System.
  • 2004. Rewrote the National Cancer Institute’s informed consent template for cancer treatment trials.
  • 2004. Created and implemented the “Take Your Legislator to the Doctor” conference in Baltimore—an initiative introducing legislators to everyday issues that patients face.
  • 2004. Established a $5,000 scholarship fund for a demonstration project in the fields of health literacy and health disparities.
  • 2002 and 2005. Co-sponsored and presented at the 1st and 2nd Regional Conferences “System Change for Better Communication—Translation Across Language, Culture and Literacy Levels” in Philadelphia.
  • 2006-2009. Plain language trainer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Literacy Missouri, six major medical centers, and three national Cancer Centers of Excellence.
  • 2007 and 2009. Consultation and training on organizational change issues and plain language for America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and several health insurance companies.
  • 2011-Ongoing. Created and led the Health Literacy Leadership Institute at Tufts University.
  • 1992-2013. Created and led the Health Literacy Institute, Freeport, Maine—the country’s most well-established and successful plain language training program.
  • 2013. Co-organized and presented at Plain Language Association International (PLAIN) 20th Anniversary Conference in Sydney, Australia.
  • 2013. Created and conducted one of the first online health literacy and cultural competency courses for Johns Hopkins University.
  • 2014. Won three Center for Plain Language ClearMark Awards of Distinction.
  • 2015. Co-sponsored the first Global Health Literacy Forum at Tufts University.
  • 2015. Developed and co-presented workshop at Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) national conference entitled, “A Replicable Model to Support Communities of Color in Accessing and Utilizing Palliative Care” through OASIS Palliative Care program of Providence Hood River.
  • 2015-2016. Served on Technical Expert Panel for Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-funded research project, “Making Patient Navigation and Understanding Easier: Developing Quality Improvement Measures,” University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus.
  • 2016. Served on Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s (IHA’s) Health Literacy Job Task Analysis Task Force to begin the process of developing standards for those working in the health literacy field.
  • 2016-2018. Served on Technical Expert Panel for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR), Translation Center, American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC.
  • 2016. Serviced on advisory committee to establish the International Health Literacy Association (IHLA). The goal of IHLA is to unite people all over the world working to improve health literacy for all individuals and societies.
  • 2017. Served as plain language writer and editor for most recent version of the National Cancer Institute’s Informed Consent Template for Clinical Trials.
  • 2018. Co-presenter at Northwest Regional Primary Care Association’s Western forum on Migrant and Community Health. Workshop titled “Supporting Community Health Workers, the First Responders to Community Crisis.”
  • 2018. Developed and co-presented workshop entitled “Understanding and Supporting Immigrants More” at Northwest Regional Primary Care Association Spring Primary Care Conference through Nuestra Comunidad Sana of The Next Door.
Service on National and International Boards
  • Partnership for Clear Health Communication, Steering Committee
  • American Diabetes Association, Editorial Board and National Inclusion Committee
  • Plain Language Association International, Steering Committee
  • National Cancer Coalition, National Center for Farmworker Health
  • National Advisory Group for CDC Community Health Workers
  • National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities, Region X Health Equity Council
  • International Health Literacy Association
Awards, Honors, and Distinctions
  • 1990. The Department of Health and Human Services Outstanding Community Health Promotion Award for the Health Literacy Project in Philadelphia.
  • 1996. Government’s Blue Pencil Award for outstanding plain language writing for a series on Latino CVD challenges.
  • 2002. Sister Cecilia B. Abhold Award from Health Outreach Partners for excellence and innovation in health outreach in the western United States.
  • 2004. Governor’s Award, a House of Delegate Citation, and a Black Caucus Foundation Citation for working to reduce health literacy challenges and health disparity in the state of Maryland.
  • 2002-2008. CLG members received 18 of the national Pfizer Health Literacy Visiting Lecturer/Professor Grant awards.
  • 2003-2011. CLG members received multiple National Institutes of Health (NIH) Plain Language Awards every year since 2003. Please note NIH discontinued these awards after 2011.
  • 2009. Medical Library Association Award for high-quality research.
  • 2009. Mabel K. Staupers Award for contributions to the growth and development of nursing and allied fields, from the Omicron Chapter of Chi Phi Eta Sorority.
  • 2012. Association of Professional Communication Consultants’ Excellence in Training Award.
  • 2012. Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s Health Literacy Hero Award.
  • 2013. Center for Plain Language Grand Prize ClearMark award.
  • 2013. Presented at and provided summation for the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Health Literacy Roundtable Meeting on the “10 Attributes of a Health Literate Organization.” The Roundtable is the leading policy group moving the health literacy agenda forward.
  • 2014. University of New Mexico Hospitals’ Distinguished Healthcare Team Member Award in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • 2015. Association for Prevention, Teaching and Research (APTR) Health Literacy Teaching Award.
  • 2017. Presented at the Health Literacy Roundtable’s “Building the Case for Health Literacy: A Workshop.” Meeting convened by the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine).
  • 2017. Received Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) International Health Literacy Award.
  • 2017. Received Center for Plain Language Best in Category Award.
Expert Reviewers
  • American Medical Association’s textbook, Understanding Health Literacy: Implications for Medicine and Public Health
  • Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
  • Patient Education and Counseling
  • Policy, Politics, and Nursing Practice
  • Health Literacy Research and Practice