Access to Health Care Information for Non-English Speakers
Posted by Lynn
My final paper was inspired by one of my recent blog posts about digital literacy across cultures. Digital literacy plays an essential role in how groups of all types of people access information. My paper explores how non-English speakers access to public health information compare to the homeless. Both are sensitive groups in America that would benefit from increased digital literacy. This paper compares and contrasts how they are able to receive information. It also explores two ways technical communication can be used to improve non-English speakers access to public health communication. The primary is the use of public libraries and the subsequent will be through the use of English speaking helpers who help the non-English speakers gain access to jobs and information.
I wanted to compare homeless and non-English speaking communities because they have similarities and differences. Some non-English speakers may also be members of the homeless community. Both populations tend to be sensitive due to lack of access to medical care, access to technology and both face a variety of challenges in their daily lives. Both groups lack traditional communication tools which can hinder their access to health care information.
My main finding was the best way to get non-English speakers access to public health related information was to help them help themselves. Public libraries are a great free resource to information, computers and internet access. One tool I found very handle was Google’s translate tool. You can either type or copy and paste in text and select the output language. This could be an easy way for a non-English speaker to translate their own health information to their native language without having to rely on others or a simplified version.
Figure 1. Translate.Google.com
What I remember from going into a public library as a child is that the computers were set up with the library website as the homepage. I was interested in looking at different websites for different towns to see what type of language support if any was available. I was pleasantly surprised by my hometown library website. There was a orange button in the lower right hand corner that hovers as the page moves. It is a link to translate the page. This is a great resource for non-English speakers. It makes it easy for them to learn where to click to have the information translated into their own language.
Figure 2. ecpubliclibrary.info
The conclusion I came to was the best way to help others would be to teach them to use technology, teach them where and when they can find access and help and encourage them to learn. As non-English speakers become more comfortable with technology they will be able to find more resources on line for public health information but it will also improve other aspects of their life. They could even learn English through a website in their native language making things much easier. This could help them increase their job skills and potentially find a higher paying job as well which could also increase their access to health care information.