Literacy5 and the Institute of Medicine report (IOM, 2004) were both seminal events. 2006 is the year when those involved started to envision the need for a plan to pull everything together. The Surgeon General’s office ran a 2006 workshop to examine the scientific basis for health literacy as a public health problem.6 Many of the people at today’s workshop presented at that event. Town hall meetings followed in 2007-2008 in four cities: New York City; St. Louis, Missouri; Sacramento, California; and Tampa, Florida. A draft plan was produced in January 2009 and the year was spent obtaining input from about 100 organizations. As one can see, a very participatory approach was used to develop the plan.

The vision articulated in the NAP holds a society-wide perspective on health literacy which is consistent with the IOM view (IOM, 2004). That vision is of a society that

  • provides everyone access to accurate, actionable health information;

  • delivers person-centered health information and services; and

  • supports lifelong learning and skills to promote good health.

The plan also calls for a response from all sectors involved in health information and services. The plan has seven goals that relate to the notion that every sector has a role to play.

Those seven goals are as follows:

  1. Develop and disseminate health and safety information that is accurate, accessible, and actionable.

  2. Promote changes in the health care system that improve health information, communication, informed decision-making, and access to health services.

  3. Incorporate accurate, standards-based and developmentally appropriate health and science information and curricula in childcare and education through the university level.

  4. Support and expand local efforts to provide adult education, English language instruction, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health information services in the community.

  5. Build partnerships, develop guidance, and change policies.

  6. Increase basic research and the development, implementation, and evaluation of practices and interventions to improve health literacy.

  7. Increase the dissemination and use of evidence-based health literacy practices and interventions.

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