The Health Literacy Project

Our goal is to increase the flow of health information across the linguistic divide.

Many population groups in the US struggle with the dual barriers of low health literacy and low English proficiency. We need tools that will improve the effectiveness of communication with low English proficiency populations. 

One such tool we have developed and tested is the bilingual parallel text booklet: The information is presented in English on the left page and the patients native language on the right page; identical in both content and format.

Information presented is basic and directed towards the not yet engaged patient. The language used is simple. The books are designed with good production values. All content has been reviewed by panels of practicing physicians. 

Physically, the booklets are printed in the tabloid size, enabling two persons to sit side by side and read together. We find such reading together is very effective in reassuring and engaging the patient.

We use affordable laser printers to produce the booklets, enabling very short production runs. Such technology enables the easy and rapid customization, revision and adaption of these booklets.

We find it best to customize each pamphlet based on input from a group of local residents when engaging any new community to accommodate local linguistic and cultural preferences.

We have field tested our English / Spanish and English / Chinese diabetes related booklets in the New York Metropolitan area at St Barnabas Hospital, the Bronx, Nassau University Medical Center , Nassau County, and the Lutheran Medical Center, Brooklyn. The booklets were very well received and accepted by the community.

The high production values of the booklets work to reassure the patient of the patient’s importance. The parallel text presentation enhances the trustworthiness of the content. The simplicity of presentation facilitates learning. Overall, this approach is a relatively low cost public health intervention with many benefits.

We believe that this approach is useful in several situations:

  • A grandchild, not fluent in the family language, sitting with the grandfather, not fluent in English
  • A community outreach worker, healthcare provider or patient educator, not fluent in Spanish, (for example) interacting with a Spanish speaking patient
  • Literacy, English as a Second Language and Adult Learner programs where health literacy can be part of the literacy effort
  • Global health volunteers abroad, not fluent in the local language, serving on health and education projects


Open Review of the Booklets

At this time, we are starting an open review of some of the numerous booklets we have prepared.

We will revise the booklets some based on the collective input and then make a freely downloadable / printable file available to all interested.

Some may simply want to use the booklet in a single language and we will accommodate that as well.

We request that you kindly review the booklets online and provide your feedback .

Let us know if you can use this booklet and if so, how many copies and for what purposes.


This work is supported in part by: HRSA Award No. 1 D1ECS10486-01-00 and by the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine of New York Institute of Technology.

The constant support and enthusiasm of Congressman Peter King towards supporting vulnerable populations is gratefully acknowledged.

The support and efforts from several College of Osteopathic Medicine Faculty, Students, our clinical partners and NY Metro area Community Based Organizations are gratefully acknowledged.

This project is led by Chellappa Kumar Ph.D. who may be reached at

Another project of the Center for Culture and Health.

Contact Us

Old Westbury
Northern Boulevard, P.O. Box 8000, Old Westbury, NY 11568
516.686.3747 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Academic Health Care Center
Northern Boulevard, P.O. Box 8000, Old Westbury, NY 11568
516.686.1300 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Family Health Care Center
267 Carleton Ave., Central Islip, NY
631.348.3254 | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)