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Universal health literacy and social work practice

Elizabeth DePoy, PhD, Center for Community Inclusion and School of Social Work, University of Maine, 5717 Corbett Hall, Orono, ME 04469 and Stephen French Gilson, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Maine, 5770 Annex C, Orono, ME 04469, 207-581-2409, stephen_gilson@umit.maine.edu.

The recent recognition of and efforts to mediate against low health literacy have resulted in significant benefits and positive health outcomes for many individuals and groups. However, members of the large, underserved population segment who are unable to see, hear and understand in typical ways remain unable to access critically needed health information even when presented in low literacy and culturally, educationally, or ethnically sensitive formats. Building on current health literacy and communication research and practice, and in concert with the mission of social work to achieve economic and social justice, this presentation focuses on innovative methods through which social workers can structure universally accessible virtual and physical environments that reduce health disparities and advance the Healthy 2010 goal of universal health literacy. We discuss universal design theory and principles, examine how universal approaches to fashioning health information environments emerge from and augment the mission of social work, and illustrate the application of universal design concepts to social work research, education, and health literacy practice.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Health Literacy, Access

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Performance Standards, Evidence-based Practices and SW Workplace

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA