Literacy Network's Story

Health Literacy Wisconsin

An adult literacy learner reinforces her lessons at a mock clinic with a student at the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy...

Literacy Network will receive the first Outstanding Achievement in Health Literacy award at a Wisconsin Literacy luncheon at Monona Terrace on April 27, 2010.

Many learners have problems understanding prescription labels and instructions from a medical professional. In 2009, Literacy Network approached this challenge by developing a collaborative English for Health class. The Latino Health Council endorsed the program and provided feedback on the curriculum. Staff at Access Community Health Centers offered tours of their facility and instructed learners on how to become patients at the center. The UW School of Pharmacy helped develop authentic curriculum materials for the program. St. Mary's Hospital offered space in the hospital for the class, and dedicated staff to help in a mock clinic.


"Students now have the confidence to make better decisions regarding their personal health and the health of their families," said program coordinator Beth Gaytan. "We teach students basic English skills to help them connect with the health care system, and get the answers they need about their health," she said.

Eighty-five percent of students showed improvement in the class. Examples include an adult learner cutting her cholesterol in half by eating better and another learner making her own appointment in English at a community clinic and asked a pharmacist questions about a cold medicine. After being laid-off from work, a learner from the class was able to access low-cost health care.

For more information about Literacy Network and its work on improving health literacy in the lives of its adult learners, visit