Apologies to the readers of the NRC Technical Assistance News for an almost identical post today.
Jane Hardin of the Community Transportation Association of America recommended an excellent resource for including people who either are unable to read well or are not fluent English speakers, whether or not they read in their native languages. Low literacy is generally a marker for low income populations and populations that need workforce and human services assistance.
How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations, issued by the Federal Highway Administration in 2006, is ostensibly geared toward transportation-oriented community participation, but can be used for any type of community participation effort in which low literacy and non-English speakers should be involved.
The FHWA report explores what is meant by low literacy and how to detect its subtle signs. People are often ashamed of their inability to read and communicate in English. They have practiced ways of hiding illiteracy. Utilizing people in the community who know the culture is helpful as is being aware of the subtle clues of illiteracy. The same can be said of people with cognitive disabilities. This is an issue of sensitivity, detection and full inclusion.
The report offers a multitude of methods for reaching people who do not read well, including places to go, people to use, and ways to operate a meeting. These methods will allow people who are illiterate to participate fully and on par with better educated populations.
Though the FHWA report is a few years old, it provides the best material I have seen that addresses the specific issue of including low literacy community members.
Thanks again to Jane for mentioning this resource at our last meeting of the Technical Assistance Provider Network.