Think Cultural Health News

Advancing Health Equity at Every Point of Contact

February 2016

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Happy New Year from the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care (CLCCHC)! As we reflect on last year’s activities, we’d like to share with you our recent progress in advancing health equity. The HHS Office of Minority Health’s 2015 Report to Congress on Minority Health Activities summarizes HHS policies and initiatives intended to reduce disparities in health and health care for minority populations. You may also wish to review the HHS Office of Minority Health’s Implementation Progress Report (2011-2014) for the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities .

In 2016, we are looking forward to continuing to offer information and guidance on culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS). We are in the midst of several evaluation activities for the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care, and we are eager to share what we’ve learned about how organizations implement the National CLAS Standards .

Thank you for your efforts to promote care with CLAS! Do you have insights, ideas, or questions regarding health equity or CLAS? If so, we invite you to contact us at

CLAS and Health Literacy

Health and health care organizations serve individuals with a wide array of communication styles, literacy levels, languages spoken, and cultural backgrounds. Culturally and linguistically appropriate services help you make sure health information is understood by all the individuals you serve, regardless of their communication needs and preferences. In addition to providing interpreter services and translated materials, this also means taking health literacy into account. This is why Standard #8 of the National CLAS Standards calls for organizations to provide easy-to-understand print and multimedia materials and signage.

A number of resources are available to guide you in developing print and online materials that are easily understood.

  • The Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit from the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality guides primary care practitioners in addressing health literacy limitations among patients.
  • The Health Literacy Tool Shed, funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, houses over a hundred health literacy measurement tools.
  • The Health Literacy Online, created by the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, offers guidance on developing easy-to-use health websites and digital information tools, featuring best practices in user-centered design, usability, and health literacy.

HHS does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. The views and opinions of authors expressed in this e-newsletter do not necessarily state or reflect those of the U.S. Government, and they may not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.