178055 Literacy, access to information, and social power – 1848 and 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 8:50 AM

Sherry Spence, MA , SL Spence Consulting, LaPorte, CO
At the core of all public health programs is the development and dissemination of information. The target audience can use public health information only if it has effective access the medium that provides the information. How, then, does the economically and socially disadvantaged target audience receive, understand, and use health information? How has this changed over time as new technologies were introduced? What are and have been the barriers and facilitators to information access, and how are they related to social power? This session presents a brief overview of major information dissemination technologies – print and electronic – and global impacts on information dissemination, the associated social power, and the barriers that arose to restrict access to each. The focus is on health information and the historical progress of literacy, access to information, and social power. Factors that have inhibited or facilitated effective access to health information are presented, such as the effects of mobility and isolation on minority groups' access to information and social power. The historical trends and current roles of public health in removing barriers and facilitating the flow of information are presented. Some of the barriers within public health information development and dissemination are discussed. The session concludes with an interactive discussion of ways to make public health information more accessible to disadvantaged populations.

Learning Objectives:
1. Attendees can discuss the importance of literacy, including computer literacy, to the current and future populations affected by their work. 2. Attendees have an historical perspective on the relationship between literacy and social power and can describe how it relates to their work. 3. Attendees have a bibliography and ideas they have helped develop for learning and teaching how to increase the information access of their target populations through effective use of today’s and tomorrow’s technology.

Keywords: Equal Access, Communication Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in public health and social service programs for the past 15 years, developing and disseminating health information to incorporate information in disparities and working on information technology solutions to collecting and disseminating information; I am currently researching the effects of technological changes and social power on access to information.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.